When children and adults come together to make music, they express and interpret the powerful intermingling of sound, thought, feeling, and action. The variety of musical customs and habits children engage in with adults marks both spontaneous and learned cultural expressions and musical interpretations. The nursery rhyme that tells a story, the rhythm that inspires a movement, the melody that echoes in the mind, and the song that steals us to the past only begin to epitomize the multiplicity of expressions prevalent in early childhood. Musical traditions are, indeed, meaningful ways in which children begin to articulate not only their cultural realities, but also their distinct musical capacities.
The prevalence of music in cultural practices and the analogous gift of musical capacity enable even very young children to ascribe meaning to music. In musical happenings during the years, birth to five, children readily decode and assimilate musical information. They sculpt multiple levels of meaning about the nature and purpose of music, other musical persons, musical situations, and musical content. As little musical rakes, children gather sound, thought, feeling, and action to build a staircase of foundational understandings.
From birth to five years, children interpret musical events that, at the same time, profoundly affect organizing neural units that frame their future musical thoughts and skill-based actions. The powerful intermingling of the dimensions of music, the prevalence of music in a culture, and emotionally resonant happenings add to the impact of musical events as equitable, influential conduits for children to form organizing neural units. With prompting by adults’ efficacious musical actions, initial neural patterning, ultimately, defines realizations of children’s future skill-based music making and lifelong musical associations.
In the corpus of musical moments presented in this book, readers see a shifting of images in which adults pass on musical and cultural traditions, instigating children to shape personal musical frameworks for understanding themselves and the world. At the same time, readers can consider expansive issues regarding musical, social, and cultural constructions that complement their existing perspectives on what, why, and how adults coordinate environmental experiences that develop children’s genetic musical capacities. Ultimately, opportunities exist to determine ways in which music is not marginal, but fundamental to children’s successful learning and living.
From the Preface