Ethnography Review of Songs in Thier Head: Music and Its Meaning in Children´s Lives by Patricia Shehan Campbell

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We are all familiar with the way children interact and play together. Through these interactions, it is clear to see their curiosity, energetic attitude, and friendliness. However there is one important part of their interactions that is overlooked. We often do not think much of kids humming a tune or combining small syllables into a little song, but if we paid close attention, we could see how music is so thoroughly integrated into a child’s life. After reading “Songs in Their Heads: Music and its Meaning in Children’s Lives” by Patricia Shehan Campbell, it became clear to me how children have a concept of music from such a young age, and in a lot of cases, their knowledge of music is not taught to them through school.
This ethnography, written and told from Campbell’s point of view, shares her experiences as she sets out on her goal to study the musical culture among children in hopes to provide insight into how music plays a role in the lives of children of all different ages. This ethnography is split into three different sections, the first detailing Campbell’s different periods of observation. During her studies on the subject, Campbell spent time in different settings (such as a school bus, a cafeteria, a music class, and at a playground) in the hopes to observe their behavior and create detailed field notes in order to provide details into their interactions and their usage of music. In the second section, Campbell shares her conversations with several different children. Through these conversations, we get a taste of how music can be integrated within many different aspects of children’s lives. The third section focuses on what music means to children as well as how it can play a role or be integrated into diff...

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...pinion a lot of children’s music is based off their creativity or social constructs. I found this book to be fascinating and I was able to relate it back to my own childhood experiences of singing on the playground or drumming on the lunchroom tables. I think that music is such an amazing way to express so many different emotions. Whether someone picks up an instrument, sings, writes music and lyrics, or just enjoys listening to their favorite band, music has a powerful connotation in all of our lives. I think musical expression should be an option from a young age and it is evident that many children have their own ideas of what music is and incorporate it into their lives in their own special ways.

Works Cited

Campbell, Patricia Shehan. Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in
Children's Lives. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
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