Title

PITCH IMITATION IN INFANCY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD: OBSERVATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

Date of Completion

January 1981

Keywords

Education, Music

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The document presents three observations concerning one aspect of musical behavior--pitch imitation--in infancy and early childhood. These observations are analyzed and discussed in terms of the insights they may provide into the development of musical intelligence during the first three years of life. A possible model of this process is suggested.^ Twenty-three infants between three and six months of age were seen three times in a study of pitch-matching. The babies were presented with two or three sung tones (D, F, and/or A above middle C). All babies responded by vocalizing at the presented pitch significantly often (z = 4.40, p < .01).^ After an interval of three years, nine of the original twenty-three youngsters (now three-and-one-half years of age) were retested in pitch imitation. Seven of the nine had reduced or lost their propensity to match pitch. At the same time, nine youngsters of the same age from musically active homes were given the same tests. All successfully matched pitch.^ Data on the musical activity in the homes and the musical interests of the parents of both groups of three-and-one half years olds suggest that the retention or loss of pitch-matching propensity at that age is dependent upon opportunities for imitation and practice through interaction with valued adults and through playful, constructive activity with vocalized pitch and rhythm. Hence the development of these aspects of musical ability parallels other forms of cognitive development and language during the sensory-motor and pre-operational periods (Piaget 1950, 1963).^ The view of musical intelligence and its manifestation in musical behavior as socially contingent rather than genetically fixed has important implications for music education. ^