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Early Childhood Music Education Commission (ECME)To share and to promote current ideas in early childhood music education that are based on research and best pedagogical practices and assure every child's right to musical development, thereby enhancing the quality of children's lives.


To promote music in the lives of all young children, our mission is to:

  • provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas regarding the various ways in which children may participate in their own musical culture;
  • improve the quality of research and pedagogy in the field of music education world wide;
  • stimulate thought and effective practices in recognition of every child's right to music education; and
  • examine the effect of music on children in changing societies.

General Information

The Early Childhood Commission of the International Society for Music Education was founded in 1982.

The intent of this Commission is to further the quality of research and scholarship in the field of early childhood music education and, through that, to stimulate thought and the practice of early childhood music throughout the world. Our biennial meeting provides the setting in which we seek to bring together music educators from around the world to learn about and to share current ideas regarding research and pedagogical practices in early childhood music education. The Commission offers a cultural framework through which ideas are shared. We seek to learn from each other as we develop and integrate theoretical foundations, children's responsiveness  to musical experience, and contextually relevant practices across the globe.

Goals of the ISME Early Childhood Commission are to:

  1. promote music in the lives of young children, regardless of talent, to create an enhanced environment that will result in the well-being and development of the whole child;
  2. provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas regarding music and the young child, birth to age eight (and even pre-birth, as more scientific knowledge becomes available in this area);
  3. stimulate the growth of quality music instruction, teacher training and research in musical development and instruction with the young child;
  4. learn ways that various cultures approach musical enculturation in the young child (i.e. natural absorption of the practices and values of a culture); compare and discuss similarities and differences in music instruction and music learning across cultures; and to
  5. examine issues which are of importance to the future of music in the lives of young children such as the influence of mass media and technology; the rapid change of society; the role of the family in musical development; the role of culture and schooling in musical development; and preservation of cultural traditions in the light of the breakdown of cultural barriers.

To accomplish these goals the Commission will:

  1. hold biennial conferences or seminars in conjunction with ISME world conferences in a venue geographically near the site of the conference;
  2. contribute to the ISME electronic newsletter regarding early childhood music education; solicit and publish articles in other ISME publications;
  3. endorse extra occasional courses which would focus in greater depth on promoting the general practices and principles of the commission. Endorsement of any proposed course, seminar, or conference will require a unanimous vote of approval from all six Commission Members currently serving, and would involve no financial support;
  4. present early childhood sessions at ISME world conferences; and
  5. work to reach early childhood music educators throughout the world - to maintain regular contact through the ISME electronic newsletter, the Commission Web Site, and biennial conferences and seminars.

Early Childhood Music Education Commission (ECME) is on facebook ECME facebook page and can also be reached through its website ECME Commission website


Current ECME commissioners

*commission Co-Chair.

Amanda Niland*


amanda niland Dr Amanda Niland, Commission Chair holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Early Childhood Education and postgraduate qualifications in Music Education, Montessori Education and Children's Literature. Amanda has taught in early childhood and school classrooms for more than 20 years, as a generalist teacher and music specialist. Amanda lectures at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Australia and also works as an early childhood music educator in an Early Childhood Intervention. She regularly presents professional development workshops in music for early childhood educators. Her current research focuses on music and children's social identity, and inclusive approaches to Early Childhood music education. Amanda has published her research in both Early Childhood and Music Education journals and edited books. She also writes songs, poems and stories for young children and has published two picture books.

Elizabeth A. Andang'o


elizabeth andango Dr. Elizabeth Andang'o is a Lecturer of Music Education and Performance at Kenyatta University, Kenya, since 1998. She holds a PhD in Music Education from Kenyatta University (2009), an MA in Music Education and a Bachelor of Education (Hons) in Music. With a background as a specialist music educator, Elizabeth teaches various undergraduate and graduate courses in Music Education and Vocal Studies. Her interests in early childhood and childhood music education include curriculum, pedagogy, culture, music in multicultural settings and singing. Her current research includes a project on the relationship between singing and culture among 10 to 11 year olds under the AIRS (Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing) Project. Another work in progress is a documentation of the development of early childhood music education in Kenya since its inception into formal education. Dr Andang'o has presented her research findings at various national, regional and international conferences including RIME, ECME, PASMAE and ISME. She has published articles in Arts Education Policy Review, Early Child Development & Care, and the East African Journal of Music Education. She has also contributed chapters in books including A Biography of Kenyan Musicians (Vol. I) among others. She has served in the ECME Commission since 2010.

Chee-Hoo Lum


Chee-Hoo LumDr. Chee-Hoo Lum is assistant professor in music education with the Visual & Performing Arts Academic Group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is also the Head of UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE), part of a region-wide network of Observatories stemming from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Action Plan. Chee-Hoo teaches courses primarily related to research in music education and primary music education. His research interests include children's musical cultures and their shifting musical identities; the use of media and technology by children, in families, and in pedagogy; creativity and improvisation in children's music; elementary music methods and world musics in education. Chee-Hoo is currently an associate editor with IJEA (International Journal of Education and the Arts) and a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Community Music. He has published an edited book, school textbooks, instructional web manual, book chapters, journal articles and made numerous conference presentations at local and international settings.

Patricia A. St. John, CSJ *

United States of America

patricia st johnDr. Patricia A. St. John, CSJ, is the Founder and Executive Director of Carondelet Music Center (est. 1992), an independent music school located in Latham, NY and sponsored by The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The Center boasts an enrollment of more than 200 students ranging in age from 3 months old to 88 years young. Patricia is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Patricia received her doctorate in Music and Music Education, specializing in Early Childhood Music from Teachers College in 2004. She holds an MA in Musicology from Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY), a B.S. in Music Education and a certificate in Piano Pedagogy from the College of St. Rose (Albany, NY). Dr St. John’s scholarship is shaped by complementary perspectives as music practitioner, performer (pianist), and researcher. Over 30 years teaching experience across various age groups and in diverse contexts inform her research. Using a multi-dimensional lens, including flow experience, Vygotskian theory, and Cultural-historical Activity Theory, Patricia focuses on early childhood music-making, the social dimensions of musical experience, scaffolding strategies, and the community of learners. She has presented her research in regional, national, and international venues including NYSSMA, MENC, ISME, ICMPC, SEMPRE, RIME, and AERA. Book chapters are included in Vygotsky and Creativity (2010), Critical issues in Music Education (2010), and Listen to Their Voices (2007) and her work has been published in such journals as Psychology of Music, Early Childhood Connections, The Mountain Lake Reader, and Early Child Development and Care.

Jose Retra

jose retraDr Jose Retra received her PhD in Education, specialising in Early Chilhood Music Education from the University of Exeter (UK) in 2010. She holds an MA in Psychology for Musicians from the University of Sheffield (UK), a Bachelor in general pedagogy (Nijmegen, NL) and a B.Mus. in piano for the conservatory of Arnhem (NL). She has presented her research at international conferences. Her research interests are music educational and music compositional aspects of concerts for children 0-4, musical movement representation and sumbolic representation of music. She formed a research group with early childhood educators to engage in joint research connected to practice and research coming out of practice, resulting in workable outcomes for practice. Active as an early childhood music education specialist, she teaches children 4 months to 4 years at the Art centre in Woerden and is the co-founder of the Preschool Music Education centre in Amsterdam. She frequently gives workshops and lectures on different subjects in early childhood music education. As a composer she has written concert music, music for film and tv, and music specially for the under-fours.

Suzanne L. Burton


suzanne burtonDr Suzanne. L Burton is professor of music education, director of graduate studies, and coordinator of music education at the University of Delaware. Burton specializes in music teacher preparation in authentic contexts, early childhood and K-12 general music, and is on the certification faculty of the Gordon Institute for Music LEarning. Her research interests ar music acquisition and the development of music literacy, school-university partnerships, international partnerships, and effective professional development. Dr. Burton is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Music Teacher Education and Visions of Research in Music Education, is widely published in professional journals, and has contributed book chapters to Applicatons of Music Learning Theory, Collaborative Action for Change: Selected Proceedings of teh 2007 Symposium on Music Teacher Education. She is lead editor and contributor to Learning from Young Children: Research in Early Childhood Music book, and editor and contributor for the book Engaging Musical Practices: A Sourcebook for Middle School General Music. Dr. Burton is a recipient of the Deleware Symphony Orchestra's Jessie Ball DuPont Educator Award, and is the immediate past chair of the NAfME Collegiate Council and the NAfME Early Childhood Special Research Interest Group. She is chair of the Community Engagement Committee for the College Music Society. In addition to her work at the collegiate level, Burton also advises the UD Community Music School Early Childhood Music for Young Minds program and teaches K-8 general music in a local school.