Psychology of Music

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・7 Sources

Different schools of psychology have developed various views that indicate the parallelism between children and adults in the worlds of music. Children of varying ages, spanning from zero to adulthood, have different reactions to musical noises, melodies, pitch, intensity, and quality. Similarly, there are numerous musical elements in the art of music. They will respond differently to each as the infant grows (Claudia. 2011). Elements of music include, for example, rhythm, pitch, melody, dynamics, and tempo. While infants are in their developmental stages, their mind, or rather, their psychology perceives these musical elements differently (Miranda et al, 2015). The paper will, therefore, aim at evaluating and discussing some of these developmental stages of children from their tender age up to become adults. The essay will also involve comparison and contrast between infants and adults’ perception of music in the endeavor to discuss the subject, developmental psychology of music, extensively.

Cognitive theory in developmental psychology of music

Cognitive theory studies the mental processes like memory, perception, attention, creativity, thinking and also language. All these are acquired by children cognitively. When a child is cooing and babbling at around 12 years, he can recognize some certain musical sounds, and when the similar music is played for long, the child can be able to identify the music at the age of between 11- 15 months. However, when the child perceives this music, they are not able to create any musical piece or interpret many musical elements as an adult could do (Houlahan, Mícheál, and Philip, 2015). The cognitive theory also applies to music and its perception of various age groups.

There is the aspect of language in music. Children at 1.5- 5years cognitively acquires essential functions of language and music is one. They tend to produce sounds which are joined together to make musical patterns, but they are mostly in their sub-conscious mind. On attaining the age of 7-12 years, the Language acquisition device is compelling. Children can be in a position to acquire, use and interpret language from a variety of sources. On the same, the musical knowledge on a range of musical expertise is well perceived by the adolescent. This ability moves on improving to the age of 24 years. Acquisition of language becomes weak, and the youth at this stage do not extend their vocal strength much. The affected musical elements are the maturity of musical voice produced. The sophistication of a person to break the notes into patterns, changing pitches, combining rhythm and tone as well as perceiving tempo in music is developed.

However, after passing the age of 25, it becomes hard for the cognitive abilities of an adult to recognize various music elements and apply them to music. Cognitive theorists argue that learning music is a cognitive process which takes place best at childhood. A child who starts learning music from the age of 6, would be in a position to trace different music elements than a person who starts learning music at an elder age.

The developmental stages of psychology of music from birth to 10 years

From birth to 3 months

At this stage, the infant can only direct towards singing where the caretaker or the mother takes the most significant part. It is the initial stage of a child’s development as the mind of the infant, just participate through passive roles (Hargreaves, David, and Alexandra Lamont, 2017).

3- 6 months

This stage consists of musical babbling. The child will tend to show interests to specific music than the other about what they are used to. Still, at this stage, the child will consider and be attracted to the musical sounds with a high pitch than the music with a lower tone.

6-9 months

The child at this stage can occasionally match sounds and their pitches. The child can also be able to recognize broader repetitive aspects in the music art and the movements therein. The infant is also able to identify the familiar melodies and use vocalizations of the music patterns in a descending pitch. The types of songs that the child can sing at this stage are the imitated songs with repeated patterns of syllables like la-la, lo-lo. The sounds that are easily sung by the child at this stage are the lateral sound /l/n (Bosacki, Sandra L., and Susan, 2015).

9-18 months

The child can then sing spontaneously as they can recognize and sing along with familiar songs. On reaching twelve months, the child can dance to the rhythm of the music given. They can pay attention to the lyrics of the song because they can grasp the language as well while they match the musical movements with the music itself. At this period, children can do lullaby or bedtime songs, and many tend to drum the music with everything they hold like the spoon, any stick they encounter. The brain at the stage is very active.

18- 3 years

At this stage, children can well recognize the elements of rhythm from the song; their mind can match the cognitively acquired sound patterns and merge them differently in the music art. They can identify different keys, meters match pitches and also use some instruments and discriminate some. The music they perform is even matched to their activities. Finally, they are characterized by a more concise musical recognition than the younger children below 18 months.

3-6 years

At this developmental stage in psychology, there is a developed purpose of music. The growing child can recognize a song by its beat. They are creative and may be able to understand familiar melodies without necessarily relying on the lyrics. The music activity that is characterized in this stage is rhythmic stick game, movement songs and various singing games as they can comfortably remember long repetitive songs.

6-9 years

At this stage, the child is in a position to start singing harmony and also rounds. The vocal range can focus about 5 or 6 notes, and they can also expand the rhythmic and melodic written musical notes.

9-12 years

This developmental stage is comprised of children who have a vocal range that has developed. They can be in a position to use compound meters and harmonies. Finally, these people are also able to identify their preferred music, make individual presentations as well as group presentations. Their music terminology is concise and can express notation and discrimination of absolute music.

Teenagers and youths up to 25 years

Teenager’s psychology is influenced by music than any other group of humans. Among the elements of the music presented in the media and other channels, the teenagers are much attached to the artists. For instance, the Rock artist like Kanye West is a figure that has influenced so many teenagers. From his physical make-ups when singing, the teenager's minds are driven to adapt her style and swag; tattoos, walking style and even his mode of dressing. When the teenagers are growing, they tend to seek people in the music industry who are perceived to be successful through music. For this reason, music becomes a psychological subject or the teenagers and youths up to 25 years (Bosacki, Sandra, and Susan, 2015).


In conclusion, Psychology is related to music. Through psychoanalysis, critics and psychologists can determine the development of a child to an adult as well as describing different psychological responses that the child exhibit from the influence of music. Developmental psychology of music tends to study the growth of a child to adulthood about the music. Music to the development of a child has been proved to contribute to the child’s cognitive abilities. According to the studies conducted to assess the cognitive ability of children who have undergone musical training revealed that musicians have the higher score than the children who are not musicians. It was conducted in the numeracy competence, visual-spatial and also verbal skills. On the realms of IQ, musicians showed a higher score on IQ test compared to the ones who were non-musicians (Claudia. 2011). When cognitive abilities are mentioned, attentions and creativity come in. Music makes the mind of growing children to be active and therefore, creative.


Bosacki, S. L., & O'Neill, S. A. (2015). Early adolescents' emotional perceptions and engagement with popular music activities in everyday life. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 20(2), 228-244.

Claudia, M. G. (2011, Sep 29). Music, Children and Brain Development | Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Deutsch, D. (Ed.). (2013). Psychology of music. Elsevier.

Hargreaves, D. J., North, A. C., & Tarrant, M. (2006). Musical preference and taste in childhood and adolescence. Oxford University Press.

Hargreaves, D., & Lamont, A. (2017). The psychology of musical development. Cambridge University Press.

Houlahan, M., & Tacka, P. (2015). Kod? ly Today: A Cognitive Approach to Elementary Music Education. Oxford University Press.

Miranda, D., Blais-Rochette, C., Vaugon, K., Osman, M., & Arias-Valenzuela, M. (2015). Towards a cultural-developmental psychology of music in adolescence. Psychology of Music, 43(2), 197-218.

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