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Reviewed by:
  • Children’s Home Musical Experiences Across the World ed. by Beatriz Ilari, Susan Young
  • Amy Christine Beegle
Beatriz Ilari and Susan Young, eds., Children’s Home Musical Experiences Across the World (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2016)

Historically, most studies of children’s musical learning have been informed by stage theories of developmental psychology and focused on school music or private instrumental lesson contexts. Over the past few decades, scholars have conducted research that increasingly explores children’s involvement with music in contexts outside of formal learning settings, utilizing methods and models from ethnomusicology, sociology, social psychology, and/or cultural psychology. Nine individually authored chapters in the volume, Children’s Home Musical Experiences Across the World, edited by Beatriz Ilari and Susan Young, convey results, applications, and extensions of one such project that reaches beyond the conventional ethnographic music education study.

The bulk of this collection contains findings and interpretations from a collaborative project called MyPlace, MyMusic, followed by several additional chapters that provide descriptions and narratives from subsequent related projects. The original project included fourteen scholars from the International Society of Music Education-Early Childhood Commission, who conducted in-home observations and interviews with parents and children in order to examine the nature of, influences on, and meaning of musical activities that took place in the homes of middle-class seven-year-olds in diverse locations, including Brazil, Denmark, [End Page 105] Greece, Israel, Kenya, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, the U.K., and the United States.

Importantly, the project’s designers attempted to avoid complications of transcultural developments by asking each researcher to select children whose families had not recently migrated to their country/locality. The seventeen participating children from twelve countries were also of the same ethnicity and lived in the same “locality” as each researcher in order to ease communication during in-home observations and interviews. Results shed light on issues of children’s family life, schooling, identity, gender, and social class.

This project presents a unique contribution to the field of music education in a number of ways. First, most previous studies of music in the homes of children have centered around preschoolers, toddlers, and infants, whereas the present project focuses on seven-year-old children, whose age places them on the cusp of crossing from early to middle childhood. Second, most previous music education researchers have considered issues of social class, ethnicity, and race as independent variables, but the methodology for this project calls for observation and description of each child in his or her home first, followed by comparison of the “cases” to each other. Third, the researchers utilize a Wiki platform to share and collaboratively interpret data collected from home lives of children (photographs, video and audio recordings, texts, and pdf files) among researchers from different countries.

The volume is organized into three major sections. Susan Young and Jèssica Pérez-Moreno set the scene in the first two chapters by describing the theoretical underpinnings and methodology for the MyPlace, MyMusic project. The second section of the book includes four chapters in which several individual researchers interpret the project’s data based upon the themes of children’s private musical worlds; belonging/identity/gendered meanings of children’s music making; perspectives and influences of parents; and the role of social class on children’s musical lives. The last three chapters of the book provide detailed descriptions of projects and extensions that developed after the MyPlace, MyMusic project.

Following the introductory chapter, in which Ilari and Young explain the background, rationale, goals, and methods of the MyPlace, MyMusic project and provide a reader-friendly table that presents the cultural background and “sources of musical stimulation in the home” for each participating child,1 Susan Young outlines the theoretical and analytical frameworks for the project in the first chapter. Rather than viewing children’s learning as developing and socializing into adulthood, the project researchers were encouraged to look at children as being instead of becoming, as subjects, rather than objects of research, and as having opportunities for agency that are contextual. This theoretical framework stems from the field of Childhood Studies (as cultivated in Scandinavia [End Page 106] and...


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pp. 105-110
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