As I was assembling this number of Perspectives, I could not help but think back on my own experiences as an audience member. Raised in a family of music lovers, I was fortunate to be introduced to live musical performances from very early on. During much of my childhood, I was lucky to attend live musical performances of several genres and styles, which were performed in many different places—from open air arenas and parks to theaters and schools. I am aware that this is not the case for many children, particularly infants, toddlers and preschoolers. While they may experience live musical performances in their early years, young children are typically not the target audience of most live music performances, and this is particularly true for classical music. Even when orchestras, ballet and opera companies, and community groups offer educational performances for youth, there is usually a minimal age. Young children usually have to wait until they are 5 or 6 to attend these performances, when they are potentially ready to follow the social rules that are associated with concert attendance. But should young children attend concerts? Or is presentational music (to use ethnomusicologist Thomas Turino’s term) not congruent with the participatory nature of music in early childhood?
The articles featured in this number center on these pressing questions. In their philosophical inquiry, Per Ekedahl and Teresa Mateiro defend the idea that participation in live musical performances is central to young children’s overall development. To support their thesis, they discuss some seminal initiatives from around the world and present arguments from several fields of inquiry. In the subsequent article, Michal Hefer and Veronika Cohen describe the experiences of babies and toddlers in a concert that they designed especially for them. They bring out the voices of parents and the responses of children to the experience, which provide much food for thought. While both papers defend live musical performances in young children’s lives, the authors differ in their perceptions of audience education. Two questions have stayed with me ever since reading these two compelling pieces. Firstly, do didactic concerts educate the audience of tomorrow, the audience of today, or both? And, secondly, how can we, early childhood practitioners, ensure that young children be offered ample opportunities to experience live musical performances? These are questions that merit our attention.
Still in this number, Christine D’Alexander describes some interactive websites that offer musical games and activities for children and families interested in knowing more about the symphony orchestra and musical instruments. Alicia Mueller shares the concept of Interarts with its multiple connections to early childhood music education. Judith Sullivan, in turn, critiques a review of literature on music and prosociality—a topic that has been high on the agendas of developmental researchers throughout the world—, and Angela Barker discusses three recent papers that many educators will want to consult, as they have clear implications for practice. I was particularly motivated to revisit the paper on the development of singing, which is so elegantly summarized in her Research within Reach.
I hope that you enjoy reading this number of Perspectives as much as I have enjoyed assembling it. As always, I ask that you consider submitting your best efforts to our journal in the near future.
Turino, T. (2008). Music as social life. Urbana Champaign: University of Illinois Press.