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 Colin West and Dunja Jogan.
Music helped me to craft my own writing, especially poems
Having been brought up in the 1950s, my memories of music are many and varied. Through TV and radio there was everything from the Brothers (Everly) to the Sisters (Beverley), not to mention the jolly strains of Eric Coates with his Calling all Workers or rousing Dambusters’ March. At school, thanks to BBC broadcasts, we heard Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and the ultimate in musical storytelling, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
As I approached double figures, the words of popular songs filled my mind and fired my imagination. There were plenty of story-telling songs to stir the emotions — Marty Robbins’ romantic cowboy ballad El Paso (though I did wonder how he managed to sing the song when he died at the end of it) and others which tickled my funny bone such as Bernard Cribbins’ Hole in the Ground and Allan Sherman’s take on Ponchielli, Camp Granada.
So pop songs and snatches from musicals such as My Fair Lady and Kismet rubbed shoulders in my head, and the wealth of folk songs we were introduced to at school had an similar impact. Thanks again to the BBC schools broadcasts, and a programme called Singing Together, we sang along to a bunch of traditional songs collected from all parts of the British Isles and beyond. There we were, in a suburban Essex junior schools singing medieval love songs and lusty sea shanties. But it was all grist to the mill!
All these influences helped me later to craft my own writing, especially in writing poems, and my latest book, Bonkers Ballads. I can hardly stress enough how music and lyrics shaped my early years, and and have been a joy and inspiration ever since.
Colin West is a British author, living in West Sussex.
Memories of music remain for life
I think music is very important in children lives. It brings happiness, entertains them, helps them fall asleep. It’s an aggregator. It overcomes the limits of rationality, and leads to another world that can be more cheerful, sweet or reassuring. The memories of music remain for life and one, over the years, can listen to music that brings him back to pleasant memories of his childhood.