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Musical enculturation:

Sociocultural influences and meanings of childrens

experiences in and through music
Patricia Shehan Campbell

The author of this chapter explores the knowledge and theories applicable to
childrens musical enculturation and socialization in families.
According to Brofenbrenner childrens development including their musical concepts,
happens inside an ecological environment that he illustrates as a set of nested
structures, each inside the other like a set of Russian dolls (1979, p.3).
Anthropologist Appadurai acknowledged the existence of the impact of globalisation
on social alterations due to growth of communications and transportation. He has
formulated a scheme of five -scapes that modify people everywhere, such as:
people that surround us, technologies that distribute worldwide information, trade
across cultures, political ideologies etc.
Author presents two projects conducted by Lew (2006) and Lum (2007) that
according to Campbell present the verification of the applicability of the above
mentioned social theories to childrens musical development.
Children learn about first cultural patterns within their families (McAdoo, 1993) and
they are recipients of family values and preferences that shape their decisions
(Freeman 2000).
The author states that the music of the family is connected to the wider cultural
community and that diversity of the familys demographic characteristics may be
relevant to childrens experience in culture and arts including music.
Even more pertinent to childrens musical development might be socio-economic and
employment factors of parents, effect of religious beliefs and existence of
grandparents within the family circle (Campbell).
Campbell states that even more advanced reflection may be placed upon the
traditional and changing behaviours of families that cohere to heritage. Ultimately
child upbringing practices naturally influence childrens home experiences in music.
The acquisition of culture begins with birth, and is a process that is automatic,
learned but not taught (Hall, 1992, p. 225). According to Hall in such a way received
information is so basic and so fundamental. Behaviours are linked to subconscious
and communal values and not always conscious and individual (Hall, 1992).
Campbell states that although childrens musical development is built up through
formal music education at school still the musical enculturation and socialization of
children takes place prior to and in lieu of schooling in natural and spontaneous

ways. Enculturation is more natural. Cultural competence is achieved by absorbing

many aspects of home environment and learning by righteousness of living as a part
of a family, community or culture (Campbell, 1998, 2006, 2007; R. Gibson & P. S.
Campbell, unpublished study).
Author also mentions the term related to enculturation, socialisation, defined by Alan
P. Merriam (1964) as the process of social learning as it is carried on in early years
of life (p.162). Socialization necessitates interaction of members of social group in
order to generate the beliefs and principles of that social group. From the other hand
enculturation happens as the part of long-lasting process by which a personal and
cultural identity is shaped (Jorgensen, 1977).
Further in this chapter the author is talking about social-historical matters of
American ethnic families and music in particular communities.
Campbell states that a study of children in American ethnic families is significant for
comprehension of enculturation and socializing processes that occur in their
everyday lives. She briefly indicates perspectives on child-raising of five American
ethnic communities and ways in which children are musically nurtured to know the
expressions of their heritage. The descriptions Campbell uses are taken from
fundamental research for this chapter or described in the literature and are verifiable
according to the author.
Campbell states that if the widespread theory is that culture, together with musical
culture, is attained by children at home then it is evident that children reveal its facets
through play, social interactions and spontaneous expressions.
Very young children at the beginning of learning their languages express naturally a
subtle differences in motherese or (parenthese) which are known to them as a
continual series of sounds projected to them since birth (Fernald, 1991).
However it has been argued that families are not in complete control of childrens
cultural experiences, and musical culture is no longer solely up-front and personal
encounter of child-and-parent (Cannella & Kincheloe, 2002; Kincheloe, 2002; Lury,
2002). Campbell states that Bronfenbrenners theory is assertion for this as the
media and governmental policy are potentially very influential on childrens values
and interests, since governmental policy dictates the nature of programming on the
television. Traditional view of childhood as a time of adult dependency is amended
by childrens access to mediated pop culture (Campbell, 2010).