Developmental Psychology in Music Instruction

Hard to believe that the following is apparently not common knowledge among teachers (and parents):

Developmental psychology tells us many things that, as music instructors, we need to know. Primarily, it tells us the thinking style of the child; that is, whether the child is dominated by his or her perceptions, or by logic. It tells us why children at certain ages do certain things, such as why a child may gaze away from the piano while playing. As an example, a preschooler would gaze away due to the inability to ‘not look’ at something else in the room (known as centration). A child age 7 or older may look away because he or she is not aware that looking at the score is necessary, while an adolescent may be looking away to try out a newfound skill of memorizing quickly. This is only one of many situations that require a solid knowledge of cognition as a function of age.

Developmental Psychology also tells us why children may become stressed in certain situations. Preschoolers become stressed when aspects of their environment change; the more change, the more stress. Older children tend to become stressed when they believe they have broken the rules, and therefore seek to know what the rules are. Adolescents often talk themselves into being stressed due to their interpretation of the events around them.

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