Case Study: Four-year-old Adam
At the beginning of the term, I was tasked with choosing a child to observe for half of a 10-week Pre-K music program at a local child care center. I was to make general observations and note any and all progress. I have interpreted this to mean any kind of development, musical or otherwise.
On my first day observing the class, I saw Adam*. Around four years old, he had a caregiver close to him, giving him personalized attention by guiding him, encouraging him, and demonstrating to him the various movements that the class was doing. Adam sat still and watched. He watched the music leader, he watched his peers. Egg shakers were passed out to each child and adult. Adam held his loosely while everyone else shook theirs to the music. He soon started smiling. Most of the time he did not make any obvious signs of participation, but had hints of hand movements during “Open, Shut Them,” and when the class did a big owl “Whoooooo,” his mouth formed an “ooh” shape. He touched his nose on the final round of the snowman song, and, towards the end of class, was doing song movements more frequently.
Over the weeks that I watched Adam, I noticed some consistencies. He spent several minutes quietly watching the class. His focus rarely left the activity within the music circle. He smiled often. The times he did the movements were always the simplest or most straightforward ones. For example, waving goodbye with a finger was much more likely than with a shoulder. This was true until week 7 when, with the group, he waved goodbye with his eyebrows! Week 9 saw him throwing his scarf into the air and laughing, having mouthed “blue” during the color song. And during the last class, he held out his arm for Wise Old Owl to land. When it did, Adam gave a glissando of “Whooo,” which was audible from my spot across the room.
Adam transitioned from observer to participant during each class but became involved more and quicker every week. The structure of the class enabled him to participate at his own developmental level and at his own comfort level. It was wonderful to see Adam grow throughout the term,
*For confidentiality, the pseudonym Adam is being used.