In praise of making and remaking

In my previous two blogs I gave thought to what became the parable of the Iron Men. In particular I attended to the title of Ed Finch’s original blog ‘Making and Re-making’. I did this because it captured a straightforward way of thinking about children’s creative capabilities.

The children worked mimetically, making and re-making, a process involving imitation and imagination, and with playful intent. They were a part of making something of value that was fresh to the world.

The process of making and re-making would seem to be what children do as a way of making sense of experience and I am reminded of a presentation given by Meryl Sole at the 32nd World Conference of the International Society of Music Education held in Glasgow, Scotland in July 2016.

I wasn’t at the presentation but it was enthusiastically recounted to me by members of as they sought to learn more about young children’s musical lives and their ways of being musical.

I have a copy of the abstract for the session and see that Meryl’s study showed children aged 2-3 making and re-making songs in the time between their parents singing with them at bed time and the children falling asleep. [1]

‘These songs were representative of their interactions with their parents and the bonds that they share through music.’ [2]

On Tuesday evening and following the launch of the Music Project at Morpeth Secondary School I recounted this to Emily Crowhurst as we walked to Mile End tube station. It registered with Emily straight away who made the connection with the way young children invent stories of their own at that alone time before sleep.

Wasn’t this impulse to make songs and make stories an example of children’s nascent creativity? Or indeed creativity itself?

Emily asked me what ‘nascent’ meant.

I replied that I wasn’t sure but that I thought it the right word before suggesting something to do with ‘birth’. We soon agreed on ‘coming into existence’.

These are examples of children’s propensity for making and remaking and which the teacher can work with.

Creativity is one of those big ideas like culture, nature, play and as such invites a great many uses and abuses and a gift to ideological positioning. It needs tending with care.

At the launch of the Music Project we were introduced to examples of children making and remaking music, their mastering of musical techniques and practices, and bringing new work into existence. This is creativity.


[1] Donald Winnicott understood such uses of music as working with a transitional object in the same way that children work with a blanket, a doll, a stuffed animal. The object served as a space in which to transition between internal and external reality. See Winnicott, D. (1971) Playing and reality. New York, NY: Routledge.

[2] Abstract: Toddler crib song: Repeating and recreating moments of musical bonding. Page 180, ISME Book of Abstracts 32nd World Conference, International Society for Music Education, July 2016.







3 thoughts on “In praise of making and remaking

  1. Pingback: Don’t forget the fourth ‘r’ – Music Education Now

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