Sustaining Musical Traditions in Early Childhood: A View from the Field of Ethnomusicology

  • Andrea EmberlyEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 27)


In the field of ethnomusicology, children’s musical cultures have historically been represented as simplified versions of the dominant adult culture. Moreover, young children have often been viewed as passive learners and future culture bearers rather than contributing members of a community, who create and sustain their musical worlds. While scholars, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments and community members often cite children as a reason for sustaining musical diversity, there has been limited research that examines how children themselves are active propagators who resiliently engage with, and contribute to, the sustainment of musical systems around the world. More recently, scholars have begun to acknowledge this active role and the study of children’s musical cultures is becoming a growing area of study in the field of ethnomusicology. This chapter will examine how ethnomusicology can contribute to the study of early childhood music with examples from recent fieldwork in Limpopo, South Africa that emphasize the integral role young children play in sustaining musical traditions.


Children’s musical cultures Venda children Ethnomusicological research with children 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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