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Children’s Music Status

Posted by on December 24, 2011

I’ve recently heard much discussion about the status of music for children. Some actually believe that there is no need for anyone to create, perform or record music specifically for young children. Their position is that there is enough good music being produced overall for children to appreciate therefore that they do not need music specifically written for them. Furthermore, most of these people are also of the opinion that music being recorded for children is vastly inferior.

Having taught elementary music for 12 years I’d be the last to argue that children should not be exposed to a variety of music. Classical, Rock, Jazz, Zydeco, Country, Bluegrass, to name only a few, all have an important role in music appreciation. They particularly go hand-in-hand with an appreciation of other cultures as well as our own.

But that is exactly my point as far as a need for music specifically written for children. Kids have their own language, history, experience and view of the world that differs from the adult world. In fact, I’d say it constitutes its own cultural experience. Children have a right to have unique music, literature, film and all other art forms created specifically to celebrate their own point of view.

Should an Irish-American listen to Classical music? Rock? Jazz? Of course! But should they be denied the experience of their own unique music? To celebrate a unique artistic and cultural experience that is their own? It seems absurd to suggest such a thing.

So the question is “Why do some people think so little of music and musicians who work solely for the musical enjoyment of children?” The answer may be in our own adult culture. Do we value children in our society? Oh yes, when a child is injured or in peril everyone agrees everything must be done to protect them. But in fact children have very little social status as human beings. In other words, they have no power.

It’s not that there isn’t great music being written for children or that there are talented artists who deserve recognition. The problem is that they have inherited the misfortune of a group that has no social or political power in our society.

Think about other individuals who lack such power in our history? Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Women. When groups of individuals have their own unique experience and culture deemed unworthy, then you find those in power dictating how they should act. How they should behave. And most often these choices are bent toward the convenience of those in power.

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