Music instruction and reading performance : conceptual transfer in learning and development

26 Jul 2019

Background: This article reported on the developmental consequences of music instruction in Foundation Phase level of South African school context, specifically in relation to learners? learning and acquisition of early reading abilities. Against the background of the recent upsurge in research interest on the subject of conceptual and skills transfer among primary school learners in South Africa, the article uses contemporary advances in theory to interrogate empirical research on the benefits of music instruction for successful acquisition of reading abilities. Aim: The study aimed to interrogate the question ? and resuscitate debate about ? how conceptual skills in one subject discipline could transfer to benefit the learning and development of related conceptual skills in a different but related subject discipline. Setting: The setting for the research was a boys-only public primary school located in a middle-class suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. Methods: Document analysis and observation of reading activities and the performance records of Foundation Phase learners was carried out by the first author, and the performance of a group that was part of the school?s music instruction programme was compared with that of a group that was not part of that programme. Results: The results suggested that participation in school music instruction might benefit primary school learners? development of early reading abilities. Conclusion: This is especially so when instructional activities are purposefully structured to benefit cognate conceptual skills, with crucial implications for policy development and the organisation of subject matter content knowledge in primary schooling in contemporary South Africa.