Research suggests that children begin to develop musical taste around the age of 5. That is, they exhibit greater reactions to the rhythmic and tonal characteristics of music. By the age of 5, children favor harmonious over dissonant, tonal over atonal, and metrical over non-metrical music. However, as they grow, the disparity in their reactions to the extremes (e.g., tonal versus atonal) increases such that 10-year-olds are much more accepting of music that is harmonious, tonal, and metrical. The changes in taste observed in children between ages 4 and 10 are commonly attributed to the combination of acculturation and psychological development during this period. Of course, parental involvement is a prime source of acculturation (Christenson, 2004).
More than half of parents of young children report singing or playing music for them each day. However, the frequency of music play decreases for toddlers and for second children as compared to first children (Christenson, 2004).
Children between the ages of 2 and 7 listen to music about 45 minutes per day. At this age, the research suggests they spend a little more time with radio than other sources. Children are four times more likely to listen to children's music and programming than Christian, classical, Top 40, or country and western music genres, each of which is heard by about 10% of children. By the age of 6, children are focusing more attention on popular music and start recognizing and forming opinions about the hit songs of the day. The interest in popular music grows steadily, and their openness to music decreases as they reach adolescence (Christenson, 2004).
With respect to jazz music, it has been the fact that children like myself who preferred such music experienced greater difficulty with their developing sexuality and with reconciling childhood beliefs with new sexual impulses than both heavy and eclectic music listeners. Furthermore, heavy-music listeners were more preoccupied with fitting in and being accepted by their peers, as well as with following rules and being responsible people than these other types of listeners.
Teenagers who had eclectic music tastes, on the other hand, experienced less difficulty negotiating their adolescence than either light or heavy music listeners. This suggests that they flexibly use music to alter, reflect, or validate their moods. However, it is unknown whether musical eclecticism facilitates adolescent adjustment or whether well-adjusted adolescents simply have eclectic tastes (Christenson, 2004).
Adolescence and Music
Adolescence is a psychologically sensitive period for identity formation. Identity becomes progressively more differentiated with age. Adolescents develop their own identity through continuous comparisons with peers, leading to strong evaluations of what one should or shouldn't be, what is fit for one's identity and what is definitely not. During this period, music and musicians provide roles and role models, and sometimes conversely anti-role models, for the delineation of identity (Tarrant, 2002).
Music taste may be more important among adolescents than among grownups, who have already achieved a more or less stable identity and can tolerate and even value music that is ...