Ordinary Magic: The Musical Foundations of Transition in Family Life
By: Elissa Ann Johnson-Green
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/20/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: adaptation, family music, resilience, school readiness, transition

Description/Abstract: Ordinary Magic is a term used to reference the kinds of typical adaptive strategies that parents use to raise children to be resilient through change. Music was studied as an important tool of adaptation that both parents and children use various types of transitions. The research was done with five families with children transitioning into their kindergarten year. Data collection included parent telephone and in-person interviews, researcher observations of home and school, child interviews, and parent-kept journals of family music making. The families had been part of an earlier series of studies that examined music use at different times in the children's lives beginning in infancy.

Family dispositions toward music use were determined and then examined in light of how parents and children managed change. Musical adaptive strategies used by both parents and children were considered through daily routine transitions in settings including home, outside (e.g., religious community or neighborhood), and school. Data were also analyzed for how parents and children transitioned across these settings. Case by case analysis was performed for each of the families, resulting in five diverse profiles. Each family's discussion of music varied according to their dispositions toward musical parenting practices and music use. Children's observations of their own musical participation were also considered, which added to the overall picture of family transitional processes. Cross-analysis revealed that all five families used music consistently in daily practices. There were similarities in how parents and children used music to aid in the transition.

Some main findings of this study indicated that the parents and children relied on music as a strategy to help them manage daily as well as major life changes. Family dispositions toward music use supported children's ability to develop a sense of individual personal and musical identity apart from parents and siblings. This finding was connected to the ways in which the parents helped their children to become ready for formal schooling. Using music as an adaptive strategy helped children to remain resilient through daily transitions and across transitional settings. Implications of these findings and further avenues for study are given.