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Tiny Owl Music & Storytelling campaign continues

Music is one of most emotional and enduring forms of storytelling; early cultures often share their stories through music. With the launch of our brand new series called Children. Music. Life, of which the first book of the series, The Drum, is coming out soon, we have started a campaign to explore the relationship between children, music and stories. You can keep up to date by searching for #TinyOwlDrum and #ChildrenMusicLife.

We contacted experts in all kinds of areas such as parents, illustrators, teachers, and librarians, and asked them:

What do you think about the role of music in children’s lives and its relationship to stories? 
What song do you remember from your childhood?

Here are two more responses, from David Litchfield and Griselda Heppel.

  • Find previous responses to our questions herehere and here.


David Litchfield:

Music helps children understand the world 

David Litchfield

When I hear music from my childhood I can instantly remember the place I was, the room I was sitting, the wallpaper, the people I was with, the smells, and the feelings that I had back then. Music stimulates all of the senses and can stir up emotions and greatly inspire. I also think that music has great healing power and can alter moods. I think both listening to music and making music plays a vital role in the lives of children for all of these reasons. I think it helps children understand the world more and -just like books and films- makes them explore life further afield than just their immediate surroundings.

My favourite song growing up was ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon. It was just on the radio all of the time and the lyrics were so funny and interesting. Paul Simon sort of raps and its just such an unusual song. The video was hilarious too and for a long time I thought that Chevy Chase was actually Paul Simon because of that great video. Anyway, I still love it and it still sounds incredibly fresh today.

David Litchfield is an award winning illustrator.


Griselda Heppel:

The simple tunes make the words more memorable

Griselda Heppel

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of music, right from babyhood. Holding my 2-week-old grand-daughter in my lap, I am astounded by her stillness, eyes fixed on mine, every time I sing her a nursery rhyme. Babies and small children love people singing to them. The simple tunes make the words more memorable, developing both language and imagination, since these strange – often fantastical (thinkHey Diddle Diddle) – little poems are effectively the earliest stories children hear. I feel strongly about this especially as nursery rhymes appear to be under attack in some quarters for not being ‘relevant’. I know.

Beyond these, the song that stands out to me from my own childhood is a Christmas carol. Gustav Holst’s haunting melody for In the Bleak Midwinter makes Christina Rossetti’s deceptively simple images ring with cold – ‘Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone’ – before melting into the softness of ‘Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow.’ Not that I’d have analysed it like this at the time, of course; only much later do you realise why the combination of beautiful music and words can be so life-enhancing.

Griselda Heppel is an author. 

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