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Jul 07 2022 - 09:30 AM
Today In History: TC Teaches Music to Babies

Under the direction of Peter William Dykema, Professor and Chair of the Music Education Department at Teachers College, Columbia University from 1924-1940, the music curriculum greatly expanded. The 16 Music Education courses went far beyond offerings relating to musical art, community music, teaching of elementary school music, teaching of high school music, supervision of school music, and problems in school music -- to more than double the number of courses by 1935-1926, while also increasing degree requirements. Technical work in music lessened as relationships grew with the Music Teachers National Association, and the Institute of Musical Art based in New York City.

Interestingly, the work of the experimental schools associated with Teachers College, in particular the Lincoln School, offered the foundation for the philosophy and practices of curriculum expansion. While interest in teaching music to young children, ages 9-16, can be seen as early as 1913, thanks to the initiatives of Teachers College Professor Calvin B. Cady, Dr. Dykema took instruction to a new level by offering summer classes to babies and kindergarteners. Small children were encouraged to reveal their musical talents through the introduction of song and simple musical instruments, like rattles, bells, drums, and triangles. A leading music advocate, Dykema applied Dewey's philosophy as expressed in Art as Experience, and he pioneered early childhood music education in 1927, successfully reaching sold-out classes for the youngest ones by 1930.

Today the Teachers College program in Music and Music Education offers a concentration in Early Childhood Music Education, developed by Dr. Lori Custodero, in the field of early childhood research. Students involved in this course work may be invited to work with Dr. Custodero at the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, a teaching and research facility located on the TC campus.

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.



  • Check out books written by Peter W. Dykema that are available at the Gottesman Libraries


  • Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries


Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check additional Cafe News postings on the library blog.

Posted in: Learning at the LibraryNews Cafe|By: Jennifer Govan|450 Reads