”Musikskap: Musikstunders didaktik i förskolepraktiker”.

Holmberg, Y.
Doktorsavhandlingar. Fakulteten för lärande och samhälle, Malmö Högskola.


The overall purpose of this PhD dissertation is to describe and analyse the didactics of music activities in Swedish preschool practices ("förskola"). Moreover, on a scientific basis, the purpose is to test concepts which can capture and describe the phenomenon "music activities", what happens, how it happens and the actorship of players. This is illustrated through three sub-questions. 1) What appears as centred content in the music activities? 2) How are the music activities staged? and 3) how does the actorship present itself among children, preschool teachers and music in the music activities?


Overall, the study finds that substantively music activities are to a great extent based on recognisability, tradition and the preschool teachers' own preferences, without substantive progression and fixed substantive goals for the activity. The music activities are characterised by an asymmetric relationship between the players of the activities, and interplay between the players only occurs to a small degree. Furthermore, the music activities are also characterised by the children's resistance towards the activity.


With regard to the first sub-question as to what appears as centred content, the study finds that the substantive focus in the music activities often has a functional nature. In this context, the music serves as a means to support the children's language, mathematical or social development. However, several of the music activities have a more existential nature, i.e. play and fantasy step into the foreground, although this is less distinct. Overall, the study indicates that the centred content in the music activities is particularly concentrated on learning in, and with, music rather than on learning about, and through, music. Focus of the music activities is on the action itself, singing, playing and dancing, rather on how it is possible to learn to sing and play (e.g. reading sheet music). Music activities, where the preschool teachers focus on the actual interaction between music and children, rarely take place.


With regard to the second sub-question as to how music activities are staged, the study finds that the spatial staging is typically characterised by a circle formation. The children sit in a circle, and there is very little movement around the room. The staging of the music activities can be described as being linear, i.e. the preschool teachers has planned the activity in advance, and non-linear, i.e. the activity emerges without a clear beginning and end. The music activities are often initiated through verbal instructions, and the music itself is rarely used to initiate or end the activity. The music activities can also be staged through directly associated activities[S1] and underlying functions. In this context, singing seems to be the most usual activity. The study finds that singing activities are often reproductive in nature. This means that focus is typically on "traditional songs", and the preschool teachers seem to agree about a repertoire of classics to sing. On the other hand, the study finds that playing instruments as an activity is primarily productive and explorative. In one of the preschools, for example, air guitar encourages play and soundless improvisation in which movement takes over as a form of expression. Physical movement can be both reproductive and productive in the music activities. Reproductive in that the children are to "imitate" the movements of the preschool teacher or dance traditional circle dances. Movement can also be productive, i.e. explorative, which is often expressed in connection with recorded music and primarily in one of the preschools. This preschool also differs in that the children themselves take initiative to dance during the music activities – and are often allowed to do so.



With regard to the third sub-question as to how the actorship between children, preschool teachers and music appears in the music activities, the study finds that children, preschool teachers and music can assume different actorships. They can act as initiators, where they take initiative and through their actions influence the music activity, or as interactors that form the music activity in interplay between children, preschool teachers and music. They can also act as co-players, where they follow rather than shape the music activity. Finally, children, preschool teachers and music can also act as opponents which create dissonance between the child and the preschool teacher, the preschool teacher and the music or the child and the music. The study finds that the preschool teachers often function as initiators, whereas the children and the music more often function as interactors, co-players or opponents.

[S1]DK: gennem deres aktiviteter. Havde lidt svært ved at forstå denne formulering. Er det korrekt forstået?


The empirical data basis consists of video footage of music activities in groups of 3-5-year-old children at three preschools located in Malmö, Sweden. The three preschools were selected because they had expressed that they focus particularly on music activities at the preschool. Furthermore, the preschools were selected in order to gain variation with regard to the ethnic composition of the groups of children. Video footage was recorded of music sessions once a week at each preschool over an eight-month period. After each video session, all or selected parts of the music session recorded were shown to the preschool teachers in the study. This material formed the basis for reflective conversations. A total of 16 hours of video footage was recorded at 46 music sessions. Moreover, the study includes field notes and interviews with the preschool teachers. The three preschools all have music as an overarching theme, however the accessibility and variation of instruments as well as recorded music vary. Data was analysed using an abductive approach, moving between theory-laden empiricism and empiricism-laden theory. The dissertation defines the phenomenon of music in music activities as an object, as action and as something that takes place between the subject and the object.


Holmberg, Y. (2014). ”Musikskap: Musikstunders didaktik i förskolepraktiker”. Doktorsavhandlingar. Fakulteten för lärande och samhälle, Malmö Högskola.

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