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A Sonic Little Cat teaches children what music can really be

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 16 July 2017

We know that people's minds and imaginations are shaped most significantly during childhood, but often those opportunities, especially when it comes to creativity through the arts, is limited very much to what the mainstream has to offer. The mainstream of children's music might be fun, and kids might have a hoot of a time with it, but often the things we expose them to is very much limited by our own perception, and preconceptions, of what children will enjoy. And those views are based not on the science of childhood development, but on what the commercial children's music industry has told us kids will like.

The SONIC LITTLE CAT project of Urban Arts Berlin has been making some exciting steps towards changing all of that. It is a series of pieces, assembled from around the world, where composers of new music responded to the challenge to create a piece of music, just a few minutes long, for small children.

Fifteen pieces resulted, and they all provide very different ways of engaging young children and stimulating their interest in exploring new musical possibilities.

The music showcases the huge diversity of world talent in exploring the new in ways that are accessible to young people – combining fun and adventure in ways that will ignite creativity and curiosity, without dumbing anything down. After all, the idea that tunes have to be simple, with predictable tonality and uncomplicated rhythm, is not part of the brain's hardwiring, but are rather injected into it by a commercial music industry that wants people to believe that they need its product. But kids are so much more creative than we often allow them to be.

The music of Sonic Little Cat is rich and wonderful, no matter what your age is, and I will be playing it for you this Sunday night on The Sound Barrier.

And framing the show will be some Stockhausen surprises too – as Eve the Mother of the World finds some pretty astonishing ways ways, too, of teaching children music.

I hope you can join me for all of this on The Sound Barrier this Sunday night at 10.00 PM (AEST) on Melbourne's 106.7 PBS FM or on PBS Digital Radio. You can also listen live here online or on the PBS App, no matter where you are, or listen back later to the audio stream, no matter when it is!