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Early Childhood Music Education Commission (ECME)To share and to promote current ideas in early childhood music education which relate to research and to teaching, to assure every child's right to become musically responsive and thereby to enhance the quality of children's lives.


Desiring 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;
  • to improve the quality of research and learning in the field of music education world wide;
  • to stimulate thought and effective practices in recognition of every children's right to music education; and
  • to 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 music in early childhood throughout the world. Our meeting every two years provides the setting in which we seek to bring together music educators from around the world to learn about and to share the newest ideas regarding research and pedagogical practices in early childhood music education. Their personal theories about the nature of music, the responsiveness of children, and what constitutes effective practice in bringing the two together interest other practitioners. The Commission offers a cultural framework through which ideas are shared.

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 every two years 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 in 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.

Current ECME commissioners

*commission Co-Chair. All following commissioners are presented in alphabetical order.

Margré van Gestel*

The Netherlands

Margré van GestelMargré van Gestel (1954) was co founder of the "Music on the lap" (Muziek op Schoot) courses for parent and child and made great contributions in the development of the content of Early Childhood Music teacher education in the Netherlands. Margré received a degree as a teacher in primary school (1976), a certificate Orff Schulwerke (1978) and a higher degree in Music Education from the University/Conservatory of Utrecht (1993). She is certificated as a Physical Remedial Teacher, NLP practitioner (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and NLP Master (INLPTA: The International NLP Trainers Association). In her home village she teached music in primary schools for 25 years, started a music and theater school and many singers joined one of her choirs. Margré teaches courses related to early childhood music education for musicians and pedagoges as well as for nurses in day care centres. She is chair of the Foundation Muziek op Schoot (since 2008) and the Foundation for Toddlers and Music (since 1989), secretary of The Gehrels Music Education (Dutch National society for primary school music teachers, since 2002 (INA member since 2006). Margré was supervisor and coach for the early childhood music teachers in SKON day care centres. (Foundation for child care in the Netherlands). From 2008 she is a member of the panel of reviewers for MERYC (European Network of Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children). As a (co) author she published (music) books and articles in national and international journals and presented at national and international symposia and conferences.

Amanda Niland*


Amanda NilandAmanda Niland 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. She received a MA (Hons) degree in 2005, in which she researched young children's engagement with songs, and a PhD in 2012 which builds on her previous research. Amanda lectures at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University and also works as an early childhood music educator at Pathways Early Childhood Intervention in Sydney, Australia. She regularly presents professional development workshops in music for early childhood educators. Amanda has presented at national and international conferences, and has published her work in peer reviewed journals. Her main research interests are young children's songs, the musical responses of young children with disabilities, and the challenges of developing participatory approaches to researching with young children. Amanda has written songs, poems and picture books for young children.

Elizabeth A. Andang'o


Elizabeth Andang'oElizabeth 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 LumChee-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.

Joanne Rutkowski

United States of America

Joanne RutkowskiDr Joanne Rutkowski, Professor and Music Education Area Coordinator and Graduate Program Chair at The Pennsylvania State University (USA), holds a B.M. in Music Education from Miami University (Ohio) and an M.F.A. in Music Pedagogy and Ph.D. in Music Education from the University at Buffalo. She previously taught general and choral music, K-8, in Ohio and New York and currently teaches music classes for children aged birth through 6 in addition to her university teaching. Music education for the general student has always been her prime professional interest and her research has focused on the nature of children's singing voices and techniques and materials for helping uncertain singers in a classroom setting. She has presented these studies at international, national, regional, and state conferences and symposia and published in numerous journals and books. She has held various leadership positions and is currently a member of the Editorial Committees of the Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, and ECMMA Perspectives.

Patricia A. St. John, CSJ

United States of America

Patricia A. St. John, CSJPatricia 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. She is a newly appointed commissioner of ECME, beginning her six-year term in 2012.