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Prior studies implementing music-movement programs were largely focused on preschool education and supported the effectiveness of these programs on preschoolers’ locomotor development and the rhythmic ability, and cognitive development of preschool children. Moreover, Tsapakidou, Zachopoulou and Zografou (2001) basing on Orff (Keetman, 1974) and Dalcroze (Bachman, 1991) music movement methods found that their implementation for a three months period improves 4-6 age pupils’ spatial perception, reaction to an audio stimulus, rhythmic ability and their ability of taking decisions. Still, the number of studies investigating the effect of music-movement programs on elementary and secondary school children is rather scarce. Notable exceptions are the studies by Chatzipandeli, Pollatou, Diggelidis and Kourtesis (2007), Likesas and Zachopoulou (2006) and Lykesas, Koutsoumba and Tyrovola (2009). These studies also suggested that music-movement programs can influence pupils in various factors. More specifically, Chatzipandeli et al. demonstrated that a program including exercises with music improved 1st-grade elementary pupils’ manipulative skills.
Similarly, Likesas and Zachopoulou (2006) indicated that a music movement program increases elementary pupils’ pleasure and intrinsic motivation while teaching them Greek traditional dances during the physical education lesson. Lykesas, Koutsoumba and Tyrovola (2009) examined the creativity of secondary pupils during the traditional dance lessons, indicating a strong effect on it. In addition, Murray (1975) recommends teachers to use dance in elementary education because of its effectiveness on rhythmic abilities’ parameters and many other locomotor and non-locomotor abilities. This evidence demonstrates that rhythmic exercises can effectively be applied in a wide range of grades in elementary school in order to promote pupils’ locomotor abilities. However, such activities are typically integrated only in the first three grades of elementary school. Yet, past evidence demonstrated that simple rhythms (i.e., 2/4, 6/8) can be used for younger pupils aged between 6 and 8 years-old, whereas more complex rhythms (i.e., 7/8 and 9/8) can be used in older elementary school pupils (Serbezis & Panagopoulou, 2008). Moreover, rhythms with a regular temporal structure are distinguished and reproduced better than irregular rhythms (Grahn & Brett, 2007; Patel, Iversen, Chen, & Repp, 2005). Such rhythms have been found to effectively increase pupil’s rhythmic ability (Pavlidou, Mertzanidou, & Zissi, 2009). Importantly, as Zachopoylou et al., (2003) noted these activities are enjoyable and do not require special equipment.
Typically, national physical education curricula decrease the time allocated in music-movement education in higher grades at the elementary schools in favor of games and sports (Hardman, Klein, Patriksson, Rychtecký, & da Costa, 2008). However, music-movement education in these grades can still help pupils increase their locomotor development and better learn sports skills. In this sense, music movement education should be integrated in the physical education lesson. A possible way to do this without interrupting the teaching of the other physical education subjects, but assisting them, would be to integrate music movement drills during the warm-up phase of the lesson. This approach is expected to have two benefits for the lesson, a) maintaining teaching rhythmic motor skills to pupils and b) providing an alternative, fun, enjoyable and interesting ways to initiate the lesson.
Past evidence showed that music-movement programs include body activities in a low or medium intensity of aerobic exercise that can warm up pupils for a physical education lesson (Faigenbaum, Bellucci, Bernieri, Bakker, & Hoorens, 2005) and are perceived as energetic and enjoyable activities (Zachopoulou et al., 2003). However, so far there is no evidence that such an approach could be implemented in the school settings and whether it can be effective in increasing pupils motor skills. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to develop a music-movement program suitable for the warm up phase of the physical education lesson and test its effectiveness in improving elementary school pupils’ selected motor skills.
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