Dr Amanda Niland

A35 - Education Building
The University of Sydney

Biographical details

Amanda has had a long career in the field of Early Childhood Education. She has taught in a range of early childhood, primary school and early intervention settings. Amanda taught in undergraduate and postgraduate programs at Macquarie University for more than 10 years, before joining the Early Childhood team at the University of Sydney in 2016.


Doctor of Philosophy

Grad Dip (Music Studies)

MA (Hons)


Grad Dip (Children’s Literature)

Grad Dip (Montessori Education)

DipTeach (EC)

Research interests

Amanda’s particular areas of interest are in music and creative arts education, children’s literature and disability studies. She is also a children’s author.

Research interests

My research interests focus on the languages of childhood, in particular music and children’s literature, and the intersection of these with young children’s identities. I have combined my professional interests, knowledge and extensive experience in these aspects of Early Childhood, to undertake research projects into the role of music and picture books in children’s identity formation and social inclusion.

As a researcher I work mainly with qualitative methodologies, including practitioner inquiry, action research, participatory research with children, narrative and arts-informed research. These approaches are a natural extension of my skills as a reflective practitioner in Early Childhood, an experienced observer of young children and as a children’s book author. My focus is on conducting research that acknowledges central aspects of early childhood pedagogy – the relevance of socio-cultural contexts to children’s development and learning and the need to respect children as competent and capable, with rights to be honoured and protected.

Teaching and supervision

Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood)

EDEC1004 Play and Learning in Early Childhood (2016)

EDEC1006 Learning Through Play in Early Childhood (2017)

EDEC1001 Early Childhood Settings and Communities

EDEC4002 Curriculum in Early Childhood

EDEC4003 Professional Experience in Early Childhood 3

EDEC2002 Professional Experience in Early Childhood 1

EDEC 2001 Creative Arts in Early Childhood

EDEC4004 Multi-literacies and Transitions

Master of Teaching (Early Childhood)

EDMT5685 Development in the Early Years

EDMT5687 Language and Communication in Early Childhood

EDMT5688 Professional Experience in Early Childhood 1

EDMT5696 History and Philosophy of Early Childhood

EDMT5690 Creative Arts in Early Childhood

Current projects

I am currently developing a project that explores how early childhood teachers can build positive relationships with children through their attunement with their musical identities.


International Society for Music Education (ISME):

Commissioner, Early Childhood Music Education commission (ECME) 2010-2016.

Commission Chair (ECME) 2014-2016.
This involved co-ordination of planning for bi-annual international seminars, reviewing of papers, editing of refereed proceedings.

Editorial Committee, International Journal of Music Education

NSW Writers Centre

Australian Society of Authors

Children’s Book Council of Australia

Publications and creative works

Journal articles

Niland, A. (2017, upcoming). Singing and playing together: A community music group in an early intervention setting. International Journal of Community Music, Special Early Childhood Edition.

Niland, A. & St. John, P. (2016). Young children’s diverse musical beginnings: Recent research in early childhood music education. Research Studies in Music Education, 38(1), 3-8. Special Issue on Early Childhood Music Education.

Nyland, B., Acker, A. & Niland, A. (2015). The relationship between children’s learning through music and the use of technology. Australian Journal of Music Education 1, 64-74.

Niland, A. (2015) "Row, row, row your boat": Singing and identity in a nursery.International Journal of Early Years Education.


Niland, A. (2015). "Space is a really big place": Life cycle of a song.Perspectives Journal of the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association 10(2).


Niland, A. (2014). Sing with me: Belonging, being and becoming through song in infant/toddler child care settings. Every Child, 20 (2), 10-11. http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/EC1402_Nilland.pdf

Niland, A. (2013). Waiting for Hugo: Writing picture books about children with autism. Write4Children, 4 (2), 36-44. http://www.winchester.ac.uk/academicdepartments/EnglishCreativeWritingandAmericanStudies/Documents/w4cJune2013Diversity.pdf

Niland, A., (2012). Exploring the lives of songs in the context of young children’s musical cultures.Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online, 10. http://www.biu.ac.il/hu/mu/min-ad/

Niland, A. (2009). The power of musical play: The value of play-based, child-centred curriculum in early childhood music education. General Music Today, 23 (1).

Niland, A. (2007). Musical stories: strategies for integrating music and literature for young children. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 32 (4).

Books and Monographs

Niland, A. (2016) Creativity in Early Childhood. Research in Practice Series. Canberra: Early Childhood Australia.

Niland, A. (2015). Music and Children. Everyday Learning Series, 15 (3). Canberra: Early Childhood Australia.

Niland, A. (Illustrated Claire Richards). (2013) Waiting for Hugo. (Picture book). Melbourne: Windy Hollow Books. Shortlist, Speech Pathology Association Children’s Book of the Year Awards, 2014.

Niland, A. (Illustrated Christina Booth). (2012) I wish there were dinosaurs. (Picture book). Melbourne: Windy Hollow Books. Notable book, Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards, 2013.

Book chapters

Cologon, K., Niland, A., Salvador, A., Mackenzie, M. and Artinian, V. (2016). Embracing diversity: Early childhood education and children who experience disability. In R. R. Scarlett (ed.), The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood (3rd Ed.).

Higgins, L., Akuno, E., Bartleet, B., Chong, E., Chrysostomou, S., DeVito, D., Kaikkonen, M., Kerchner, J, Niland, A. & Schmidt, P. (2016). International co-operation in music teaching and learning: Perspectives from the Internationals Society of Music Education. In T. De Baets, G. Sammer & A. de Vugt (eds.), European Perspectives on Music Education 5. Esslingen, Germany: Helbling.

Niland,A., Acker, A. & Nyland, B. (2015). Early childhood music education and young children's musical cultures in a digital age. In S. O'Neill (Ed.),Music and Media Infused Lives: Music Education in a Digital Age.


Suthers, L. & Niland, A. (2007). An exploration of young children’s engagement with music experiences, in K. Smithrim (Ed.) Listen to their voices.Research to Practice: Biennial Book Series.Canadian Music Educators’ Association.

Selected publications

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  • Niland, A., John, P. (2016). Special issue on early childhood music education. Research Studies in Music Education, 38(1), 3-7. [More Information]


  • Niland, A., John, P. (2016). Special issue on early childhood music education. Research Studies in Music Education, 38(1), 3-7. [More Information]

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