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The Special Feature 1/2024 Editorial: Crossing boundaries with children’s music

by Lasse Lehtonen

"This special issue of FMQ allows the vibrancy and joy of children’s music to shine through verbally, visually, and aurally," writes Lasse Lehtonen.

In her introduction to the academic study of children’s music, Norwegian scholar Ingeborg Lunde Vestadintroduces three distinct contexts in which this musically diverse genre takes shape: culture for children, culture with children and culture by children. The first pertains to music crafted by adults specifically for children; the second encompasses musical activities and practices that both children and adults partake in together; and the third involves the music created by children themselves, along with their engagement in their own networks and relationships.

These three categories are not mutually exclusive and often intertwine in various ways. While the categorisation explicitly focuses on children’s music, it suggests a broader interconnectedness that children’s music shares with other genres, musical styles, as well as cultural and social contexts. For instance, musical activities aimed at or involving children occur within diverse settings. Moreover, they also involve adults – musicians, producers, writers, organizers, audiences, and so forth – who are engaged in other realms of music and culture. On the flip side, musical activities initiated by children exhibit a realm of creativity and imagination that can communicate with and influence other facets of culture and life in unexpectedly profound ways.

In essence, while children’s music occupies a distinct segment primarily defined by its target audience and practices, it also intersects with other genres and contexts. Simultaneously, its distinctiveness necessitates the mastering and envisioning of approaches and skills unique to the genre. However, this specificity is unfortunately not always recognized in public discourse or adequately appreciated.

This special issue of FMQ allows the vibrancy and joy of children’s music to shine through verbally, visually, and aurally. We delve into several fascinating topics, ranging from educational activities and concerts to the intersections of children’s opera and literature. These topics underscore the engaging nature of music for, with, and by children. It is dynamic, multifaceted, and fun – thereby possessing an exceptional potential to negotiate and cross different boundaries.

Featured picture created with DALL·E 2.