In this study of a 10-week music education program for preschool children and parents, we observed the musical behaviors of preschool children in free and structured musical play environments to discover how children explore sound alone and with others. Analysis of the data revealed three themes: unfinished play, extinguishing play, and enhancing play. The children communicated their needs for free musical play to adults and other children through statements, requests, gestures, and actions. We identified conditions that interrupted, modified, or enhanced children's musical play. We concluded that children needed extended, uninterrupted time for play episodes as well as appropriate materials in the environment. Adult valuing of all children's musical utterances and flexibility within structured lessons enhanced play.
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