Towards Musicking in a Public Sphere : 1-3 year olds and music pedagogues negotiating a music didactic identity in a Swedish preschool

Abstract: This thesis explores alternative ways of staging music in preschool. The ‘preschool subject of music’ is approached as a social and cultural construct that is embedded in discursive negotiations. Participants in the study are 1-3 year-old children and their music pedagogues, working in the preschool on a daily basis. In three studies, the negotiation of a local music ‘didactic identity’ is examined by answering research questions related to three different discursive levels: (i) the micro-level of face-to-face interaction; (ii) the level of pedagogue’s conceptions; and (iii) the political/societal level. Study I examines the participants’ use of semiotic resources in their co-construction of musicking events. By means of micro-analyses of video-recordings it is shown that mobility in the room is essential for the children’s access to instruments and other artefacts, and for their possibility to influence music activities. Other crucial conditions concern the pedagogues’ responsive uptake and improvisatory approach, and that the activities are open to other forms of expression. Study II explores conceptions of the ‘child’ and conceptions of ‘music’ in four music pedagogues’ talk in a group interview. Different conceptions of the ‘child’ are seen to interrelate with certain ontological and functional conceptions of ‘music’ that involve diverse opportunities for children’s (bodily) agency. This analysis is made by means of discursive psychology. Study III examines the music practices from a political and philosophical perspective, using Hannah Arendt’s concept of the ‘public sphere’. This third perspective shows how this preschool’s music practices create a public sphere by seriously putting into practice equality and plurality as values and principles that increase the equality between children and adults. Age power structures are thereby challenged, and the children can be seen as citizens in the ‘here and now’, and not in some distant future when they are grown-ups. Also, the ‘preschool subject of music’ itself becomes a negotiated issue.Implications for preschool practice and preschool teacher education are discussed, and further research is suggested within other educational areas regarding how pedagogues’ interpretations of the concept of ‘children’s participation’ and ‘influence’ impact on specific preschool subjects, such as music.

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