Spinning the child

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Why 'spinning the child'?

July 27, 2017

Book titles are like song titles, album titles or even band names. Believe me, I've spent a lot of time on the last three. They need just the right combination of words, sounds and signifiers to make them sit just right. They need a bit of creativity and a whole lot of crafting to sum up the product, grab people's attention and help everyone involved to feel nice about it.

 

​My book is about recordings made for children. I use the word 'records' to refer not only to the spinning discs and cylinders that have carried children's music since the 1870s, but to any other recorded medium such as cassettes, eight-tracks, CDs, mp3s, WAVs, even streams. If it has been recorded, it's a record and it will sound the same every time it is played. Kinda.​​

 

 

But the word 'spin' means other things. Firstly, it can be used to describe the telling of stories, as in 'spinning a tale'. So on some level, I'm telling stories about music made for children. I'm creating a narrative that links the writers and performers with the other people and institutions that are involved in bringing specific records into the public domain. This includes the teachers, librarians, parents, playlist creators and other gatekeepers who select, buy and disseminate music to children.

 

Finally, 'spin' has more manipulative connotations. Politicians 'spin' the figures. Journalists 'spin' the news. Marketing people 'spin' the products. In my work, I'm ever conscious about what children's music communicates, both about children, and to children. The messages that adults send to children through the musical, lyrical and sonic factors of children's records help to construct 'childhood', that ever-changing social and cultural framework through which children learn what adults expect of them, how adults view them, what adults want them to know and when. Through music (and other things) children learn how to be children.

 

So whether it is manipulation (conscious or otherwise), telling stories, or just putting the needle down on some rotating discs, spinning the child is the focus of my research, my song writing, and (deep breath) my parenting.

 

Now, where did I put that fidget spinner?

 

 

 

 

 

More of this classic 1973 children's album later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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