The aim of this chapter is to focus upon children’s experience of learning music in formal educational settings during different periods of Western history. Four examples are provided, including the English medieval song schools, private instrumental instruction in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, school music teaching in late nineteenth-century Europe, and recapitulation and musical childhood in twentieth-century America and Britain. The first three of these case studies illustrate children’s musical experiences in the formal settings of churches, studios, and schools, respectively, whilst the fourth charts the progress of an influential theory concerning the development of music and the evolutionary stages of childhood. Through such an exploration of the historical constructions of musical childhoods, music educators should become aware of the cultural influences that impinge on the experience of childhood, and more specifically understand better how children can be encouraged to fulfill their musical potential.
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