For children who are not adept at singing or playing instruments, emphasising music-listening skills can raise their self-esteem, their engage-ment with music and also their use of language.
A research project intended to analyse children's listening responses and to assess what could help develop listening skills was designed for a mixed-age class of six to nine-year-olds. Each child was given a set of colours, patterns and textures from which to choose what best matched the musical extract they listened to. This was done on a weekly basis and covered a diverse range of musical genres. Encouraged by the teacher to feel they were all "experts", they were asked to explain their choices.
The findings of the project raise the question of whether schools have the right balance between performance and listening in the music curriculum and suggest this approach as a way of providing an assessment framework for children with poor language skills.