Video_1_Dancing to Metallica and Dora: Case Study of a 19-Month-Old.MP4 (5.75 MB)

Video_1_Dancing to Metallica and Dora: Case Study of a 19-Month-Old.MP4

Download (5.75 MB)
posted on 16.05.2019 by Laura K. Cirelli, Sandra E. Trehub

Rhythmic movement to music, whether deliberate (e.g., dancing) or inadvertent (e.g., foot-tapping), is ubiquitous. Although parents commonly report that infants move rhythmically to music, especially to familiar music in familiar environments, there has been little systematic study of this behavior. As a preliminary exploration of infants' movement to music in their home environment, we studied V, an infant who began moving rhythmically to music at 6 months of age. Our primary goal was to generate testable hypotheses about movement to music in infancy. Across nine sessions, beginning when V was almost 19 months of age and ending 8 weeks later, she was video-recorded by her mother during the presentation of 60-s excerpts from two familiar and two unfamiliar songs presented at three tempos—the original song tempo as well as faster and slower versions. V exhibited a number of repeated dance movements such as head-bobbing, arm-pumping, torso twists, and bouncing. She danced most to Metallica's Now that We're Dead, a recording that her father played daily in V's presence, often dancing with her while it played. Its high pulse clarity, in conjunction with familiarity, may have increased V's propensity to dance, as reflected in lesser dancing to familiar music with low pulse clarity and to unfamiliar music with high pulse clarity. V moved faster to faster music but only for unfamiliar music, perhaps because arousal drove her movement to familiar music. Her movement to music was positively correlated with smiling, highlighting the pleasurable nature of the experience. Rhythmic movement to music may have enhanced her pleasure, and the joy of listening may have promoted her movement. On the basis of behavior observed in this case study, we propose a scaled-up study to obtain definitive evidence about the effects of song familiarity and specific musical features on infant rhythmic movement, the developmental trajectory of dance skills, and the typical range of variation in such skills.