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Songs in Their Heads

Music and its Meaning in Children's Lives, Second Edition

Second Edition

Patricia Campbell

Publication Date - December 2010

ISBN: 9780195382518

328 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Songs in Their Heads is a vivid and engaging book that bridges the disciplines of music education, ethnomusicology, and folklore. This revised and expanded edition includes additional case studies, updated illustrative material, and a new section exploring the relationship between children's musical practices and current technological advances. Designed as a text or supplemental text for a variety of music education methods courses, as well as a reference for music specialists and classroom teachers, this book can also help parents understand and enhance their own children's music making.

New to this Edition

  • Incorporates the new "songs" from iPods, the internet, etc.
  • Includes several new case studies and methods


  • First edition widely acknowledged as the pioneering publication on children's musical practices
  • New edition includes new case studies and updates on new media
  • Bridges the disciplines of music education, ethnomusicology, and folklore
  • Blends standard education field experiences with ethnomusicological techniques

About the Author(s)

Patricia Shehan Campbell is the author of numerous books on music for children, a teacher, and an active musician. Her training in education and ethnomusicology has led her to the development of curriculum in music and cultural studies, and has helped shaped her unique approach to understanding children and their musical capacities. In addition to her post as Donald E. Peterson Professor at the University of Washington, she has lectured on world music pedagogy and children's musical involvement throughout North America, in much of Europe and Asia, in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.


"Seldom does one find a research book that you 'can't put down.' Scholarly yet conversational, this book tells us much about the children we teach. It will surely impact on what I teach and how I present my music methods courses."--Sr. Rita Schweitzer, Mount Mary College

"This wonderful book offers revealing insights into the way children think about music, the way music is taught in schools, and significant ways music education could be improved. Don't let the skillful presentation and engrossing narrative style fool you: this is a very important book."--Anthony Seeger, Professor of Ethnomusicology, UCLA

"This book is a genuine revelation and the foundation for a revolution in music education because it tells us what children are doing with music and lets us hear their voices describing the power of music in their lives. Patricia Campbell observes closely, listens carefully, and explains patiently that all young children are full of musicking skills, very music-minded, and full of wisdom about what they need from us to become fully realized musicians, if only we would listen."--Charles Keil, President of Musicians United for Superior Education, Inc.

"Songs in their Heads is an interesting examination of music and its role in the life of a child."--Kimberly Golder, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

"I literally could not put this book down. I am very excited to add this as required text for my graduate music methods class."--Madeline S. Bridges, Belmont University

"Songs in Their Heads is written in an engaging and effortless manner. This is no small feat for a book that bridges the disciplines of music education, musicology, ethnomusicology, and folklore....This book offers a provocative text or supplementary reading for university courses in music education, as well as an enjoyable study for all."--Ethnomusicology

"This expanded and revised second edition of Songs in Their Heads adds to the multi-vocal, multicultural children's perspectives of the first edition. The clarity, maturity, and authority of Patricia Campbell's insightful treatment of children's musical life as a culture of its own offers a rock-solid, radical, and reasoned approach to music education in a multicultural world."-Daniel Sheehy, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

"This second edition is well written and intriguing to the reader...A valuable resource for music educators, an excellent reference text for students in music education courses, and a resource for parents who wish to enhance their understanding of the music making of children." --Music Educators Journal

"In the second edition of Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in Children's Lives, Campbell extends both her pioneering work as musical ethnographer and her challenge to adults to see and hear children for who they musically are. Taking up that challenge, and reading her book, is well worth the investment." --Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Musical Children
    Part I In Music: Children at Musical Play
    Narrative Tales
    The Tales

    Part II On Music: Conversations with Children
    A Flexible System
    The Conversations

    Part III For Children: Prospects for Their Musical Education
    Who They Musically Are
    All That They Can Musically Be
    Musical Mosaics

    Appendix I
    Appendix II

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