Composing and improvisation in the lives of children

Today I was re-reading  Eve Harwood and Kathy Marsh’s brilliant chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Music Education. This paragraph gave me pause once again as I considered how to best enable children to compose and improvise in the ways that are natural for them and also help to guide without killing these natural impulses. I put the entire paragraph here because I think it is very powerful and one that pre-service teachers need to be aware of as well. You will find this quote on p. 329 of volume 1.


Embedded Opportunity for composition and Improvisation

“As the children play together, there is a a focus on creative reworking of musical material rather than a fixed product. While there are many precedents for classroom improvisation and composition, for pedagogical reasons these have often been conducted within preconceived frameworks devised by teachers. Although formal frameworks and expectations also operate within children’s musical play, the aesthetic decisions are ongoing and their own, allowing more fluid, steadily developing, and satisfying performative outcomes. Novelty is part of playground game practice, enabling children to respond to the new and different in their sonic and kinesthetic environment, in turn transforming it into something that meets with individual and communal approval” (Marsh, 1995, 2008).

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