The Effects of "Music Play" Instruction On Language Behaviors Of Children With Developmental Disabilities, Ages Three To Six

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles A. Elliott

Advisor Department



The purpose of this study was to determine if use of the Music Play curriculum might affect receptive and expressive language of preschool aged children. Additionally, effects of Music Play instruction on language behaviors of children with particular types of disabilities were examined. Participants were six classrooms of children with developmental disabilities from three public schools in South Mississippi. Each school had two classrooms participating in the study. Thirty participants were assessed individually using the Preschool Language Scale-3 (PLS-3 ). The PLS-3 provided scores for Auditory Comprehension (AC), a receptive language measure; Expressive Communication (EC), an expressive language measure; and Total Language (TL), a combination of both receptive and expressive language. One classroom from each school was randomly assigned to the treatment group. Each of the three selected treatment classrooms participated in two 25-minute Music Play sessions each week for six weeks, and the other three classrooms served as the control group. A journal maintained during the treatment sessions provided anecdotal observations. At the end of the music treatment period, participants in both groups were posttested, again using the PLS-3 . Data were analyzed using a one-way ANCOVA. Results indicated the treatment group improved from pretest to posttest on TL and AC scores, and the control group showed no improvement in test scores; however, there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups on posttest scores. Neither group showed improvement on EL scores; consequently, no significant differences were found. Because there were no resultant significant differences, it could not be determined that Music Play had any effect on language behaviors of children with certain types of disabilities, when compared with other disability types. However, the journal indicated fewer vocal and movement responses from children with severe physical, cognitive, or sensory disabilities, compared with children with less debilitating disabilities. Based on the results of the ANCOVA, it cannot be stated that Music Play instruction will affect receptive or expressive language in children with developmental disabilities. Neither can it be determined that Music Play instruction will affect language behaviors of children with certain types of disabilities, when compared with other disability types.