This study investigated the influence of music-based socialisation groups upon the social functioning of children in early childhood. A qualitative research approach was followed and a case study research design was employed to investigate the phenomenon at hand. Eight children (aged five to six years) from the Thando Westford Community Crèche in Pretoria, South Africa, were purposively selected to participate in ten music-based group sessions over the course of eight weeks. Each session was video recorded and focused observation was employed to collect data on seven social skills according to the model of Schiller (2009), namely confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self-control, relatedness, capacity for communication and cooperativeness. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants’ teacher to examine the potential for transfer of skills learned in the group to the classroom and to explore the value and feasibility of facilitating such groups within the community crèche setting. Principles of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory formed the theoretical foundation for the design and implementation of the music groups and for the interpretation of research findings.
The research findings suggested that the music-based socialisation groups were able to promote each of the seven social skills, although the nature and extent of such influence differed among individuals. Music-based activities displayed several strengths as a medium for working with young children, including the cooperative and inclusive nature of activities. Both contextual and individual factors influenced how the participants responded to the groups. Transfer of skills learned in the groups to general classroom behaviour was limited, perhaps due to a lack of follow-up activities aimed at this purpose.