Musical movement in childhood

Mentor: Dr. Laura Cirelli

Assistant professor


Project Description

Some music just makes us want to move, whether dancing with a crowd at a rock concert or unconsciously tapping your toe to the beat of the song on the radio. Previous research has shown that adults are more inclined to move to certain kinds of music – for instance, you might be more likely to bob your head to a groovy jazz beat than to an operatic melody. Though seemingly effortless, little is known about what features affect the drive to move and the ability to move to the beat throughout childhood.

In a series of studies, we are investigating children’s musical movements by asking parents to video-record their children’s spontaneous responses to an experimenter-provided playlist, in which a musical feature of interest (e.g. familiarity, adult-rated grooviness, etc.) is manipulated. Next, an experimenter watches the videos (with sound off so they are not biased by the music) and takes careful note of pre-specified aspects of the children’s movements. We then conduct statistical analyses to infer whether the feature of interest altered how much children moved, how well they aligned with the beat, and their enjoyment of the experience.

Depending on your interest, you may be involved in different aspects of this research project – for example, interacting with participant families, behavioural coding of videos, audio editing, and/or developing a protocol for a yet-unexplored musical feature. People with a musical background often find these questions especially rewarding, but no musical experience is necessary.

Does this project require the SROP Student to be in-person or remote? Either one

Mentorship Statement

I am dedicated to providing students with a welcoming and supportive lab environment where they can learn about all stages of the research process and gain important skills for academic as well as non-academic research-focused careers. I meet with students one-on-one as well as in weekly (now virtual) lab meetings, where students take turns leading discussions on their projects or exciting new papers related to their projects. Students are trained on study design, data collection, data processing and science literacy. The goal is for students to leave the TEMPO lab with a deep understanding of developmental psychology, music science, and the research process more generally. I am excited to be involved in the SROP programme. I truly value how much students bring to the lab through their creativity, personal perspectives, and collaborations!

Project ID 212