Classical Music’s Evocation of the Myth of Childhood

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“Ian Sharp’s book fills an important gap in the music education literature: the significance of important music by important composers and the essence of the childhood experience. Sharp’s book avoids being yet another teaching methodology. Instead, it links a thorough analysis of childhood qua childhood with music expressly about childhood. . . . Sharp first offers a comprehensive psychological and sociological study of childhood. Then, with sensitivity, skill and insight, Sharp shows. . . how music can express meaning that is accessible to children. This is followed by careful analysis of music by mainstream composers intended specifically either for children or about the theme of childhood. These include Robert Schumann, Benjamin Britten, Chopin, Kodaly, Bartok, Bizet, and a host of others. The analyses of the works of these composers should satisfy any music theorist. . . . In addition to classical works, Sharp generalizes his thesis across traditional aspects of music education: lullabies, folk songs, berceuse, rhymes and songs. Buy the way, Sharp’s discussion of musical games and children in opera is a peach! Music educators will welcome this work as a needed contribution to the literature. . . .should be made required reading in all university music education foundations courses.” – Harold E. Fiske


“The clearness of writing disguises the depth of thought and reading behind it. . . . Of particular interest is the perspective given on the music of Schumann, whose music for and about children is a central concern. I had the impression when reaching the end of the book that there were few who could have written such a work, combining as it does a passion for education and a concern for children and their experiences together with a knowledge of a wide range of music and the ability to identify the key characteristics. . . . . will be of especial interest to all those involved in introducing children to the world of music whether as educationalists, instrumental teachers or parents.” – Robin Hartwell

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Introduction
1. The changing nature of childhood
2. Musical expressions of childhood (social context; language of music; signs and symbols)
3. Schumann – the descriptive and the didactic
4. Lullaby and Berceuse – images of infancy (folk lullaby; carols as cradle songs; Christmas music, art songs, Chopin’s Berceuse; Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque)
5. Beyond infancy (nursery rhymes and songs, games, Bizet, Bartók and others; children in opera – a case study of The Turn of the Screw)
6. Modifying the myth – the influence of adults on children
7. Disappearing childhood? (changing times; resilience of the musical imagery of childhood)
Bibliography, Index

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