Aesthetic Play: The Meaning of Music Technologies for Children’s Development

Jytte Bang


The present article explores the role of music-related artefacts and technologies in children’s lives. More specifically, it analyzes how four 10- to 11-year old girls use CDs and DVD games in their music-play activities and which developmental themes and potentials may accrue from such activities. Those artefacts are recent examples of the history of mass-production, mass-distribution, and mass-consumption of music. Since children do get into touch with the mass-phenomenon of popular music and artists, concerns may be articulated that this can have problematic effects on children’s lives. By help of, among others, Marx Wartofsky’s artefact theory, the article tries to get beyond “black-or-white” prejudices concerning technologies and their limited insight; this is done by suggesting to focus on the children’s own perspectives and how music-play activities may be meaningful in relation to the children’s complex life-worlds. Further, this leads to an analysis of music-play activities as play with an art-form (music), which includes aesthetic dimensions and gives the music-play activities its character of being aesthetic play. Following Lev Vygotsky’s insight that art is a way of building life, it is argued that music-play similarly can be viewed as a way for the children to build their lives.


development; play; children; art theory; aesthetic play; music; dance; music technology; artefact theory; mass-consumption; life-world