Re-thinking Systems of Meaning-Making: A Possible Theoretical Framework for Exploring Children’s Engagement in Music and the Subject Positions of ‘Rock-Boys’ and ‘Pop-Girls’

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


Theories we accept and ‘think with’ open up possibilities and impose constraints on children’s musical engagement and on their understandings of their musical selves. In this chapter, I explore and combine theories based in research on children’s culture and suggest a possible theoretical framework for investigating and evaluating young children’s uses of recorded music (phonograms). I argue that Christopher Small’s (Musicking: The meanings of performing and listening. University Press of New England, Hanover, 1998) concept of musicking is a fruitful starting point, and from this I derive the notion of musickingship. With musickingship I mean a person’s capacity to participate in a musical performance in a broad sense in ways which are experienced as meaningful to her or him. I highlight the multimodal character of children’s participation in music, their experience of meaning and the relationships which form during the musical performances. I go on to elaborate on musickingship, drawing on the notion of affordance from Tia DeNora (Music in everyday life. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000) which stresses music as a resource for the self. Finally, my theoretical framework includes performativity, which here helps to focus on the constitutive musical moments of everyday life, and interpretative repertoires, which brings out the social and discursive system of meaning-making. In the last sections of the chapter, I employ this theoretical framework to discuss patterns of gendered musical engagement and raise critical questions about how we—parents, music educators and researchers—are regulated by discursive systems of meaning-making, and thus, how we might inadvertently constrain children’s musickingships when we mean to support them.


Children’s music Technology Media Phonograms Discourse analysis Gender Musicking 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inland Norway University of Applied SciencesElverumNorway

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