The University of St. Thomas


Petrik, Rebecca

Petrik, Rebecca

Voice Skill Development in Preschool Education: An Integrated Approach
Rebecca Calvert Petrik

Just as children learn the skills of cutting with scissors, throwing and catching a ball, drawing a shape, or cooperating within the play group, they also learn to speak and to sing. The process of learning for all of these skills involves both experience and development.

While the curriculum of most preschool programs does identify language development as a primary goal of learning, the same is not always the case for singing development. This project was a response to the perceived omission of singing development strategies in preschool education. The purpose was to formulate a model of exploratory activities for developing voice skills. These exploratory activities needed to be based on developmental and biological premises and be appropriate for integration into the preschool setting. The unique characteristics of the young child’s thinking mandated that this project focus as heavily upon learning parameters as upon learning content.

The project involved a review of literature in the fields of child development, vocal development (speaking and singing), early childhood education, vocal music education, early childhood music education, and psychobiology. Two broad veins of knowledge were explored: learning and vocal development. Also included in the literature was a brief overview of the work of educators who have concerned themselves with building learning-appropriate environments for music and vocal education. A second part of the study involved piloting voice skill activities in the integrated setting of Escuela preschool.

My synthesis of the research literature and personal teaching experiences in the preschool resulted in a conclusion which embraces the interdependence of both the what and the how of learning. A call for the what resulted in the formulation of the model of voice skill exploration activities. An equally strong call for the how resulted in a strong emphasis on the importance of integrated learning in a brain-compatible environment.

Capstone Advisor
Dr. Leon Thurman