Thursday, 10 October 2013

ECME october

Readings on Diverse Musical Childhoods


Following from the thread of the previous blog about the music of Kenyan children, this entry hopes to further the discussion on diversity and inclusion in children's musical education.


If we are truly invested in the music and music education of children, then we need to first understand the multiple contexts with which the musical lives of children emerge. Without a grounded understanding of children's musical ways, of how they explore, engage and create in their musical worlds, music educators would lose the connection and find it challenging to develop pedagogies and practices that would make sense and actively engage children they teach, particularly in this globalized age where the attunement to change should be high on any educator's radar.  The detailed study and reflection on children and their musical lives from various contexts would thus provide music educators with possible glimpses in coming to terms with implications for current music education practice, making it relevant and meaningful to the sonic surrounds that envelops the 21st century child.


Two recent publications come to mind, "The Oxford Handbook of Children's Musical Cultures" (Campbell and Wiggins (Eds.), 2013) and "Musical Childhoods of Asia and the Pacific" (Lum and Whiteman (Eds.), 2012). Both books brought together a series of writers from the fields of ethnomusicology, folklore, education and developmental psychology, to bring to bear a diverse range of rich narratives on children's musical experiences and engagements. These narratives served to continually challenge and question currently held views about how music should be taught and facilitated, and to constantly remind educators of the diverse range and magnitude of musical styles and structures children from around the world prefer and use in their everyday lives and encounters.  Earlier significant contributions to the examination of children's musical worlds include "Songs in their heads: Music and its Meaning in Children's Lives (2nd Ed)" (Campbell, 2010) and "The Musical Playground: Global tradition and Change in Children's Songs and Games" (Marsh, 2009). The growing literature in this field will help to add a critical and reflective voice in rethinking and reshaping music education practice, truly moving towards listening intently to diverse musical beginnings.




Campbell, P., & Wiggins, T. (Eds.) (2013). The Oxford handbook of children's musical cultures.

New York: Oxford University Press.


Lum, C.H., & Whiteman, P. (Eds.) (2012). Musical childhoods in Asia and the Pacific.

Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


Campbell, P. (2010). Songs in their heads: Music and its meaning in children's lives (2nd Ed.).

New York: Oxford University Press.


Marsh, K. (2009). The musical playground: Global tradition and change in children's songs and games.

New York: Oxford University Press.





Contributed by


Chee-Hoo Lum

Assistant Professor

Visual & Performing Arts

National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore