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Musical LEGO – children’s music on children’s terms

A digital music platform – where children can listen to and play with songs, adjust key and tempo, remix and further develop the music. That is objective of the project Rösträtt LABB at Malmö University. The project is funded by Music Development and Heritage Sweden (Statens musikverk).

— Young children want to make music but need musical instruments that work on their terms. Here we see opportunities by the means of new technology. Touch screens and apps are ideal for making music, rhythms and sounds, says Daniel Hansson, Director of Music at Malmö University.

A digital platform for children's music-making - that's how Rösträtt LABB will work.
A digital platform for children’s music-making – that’s how Rösträtt LABB will work.

Children’s right to singing on children’s conditions. That is the basis for Rösträtt – a three-year children’s music project at Malmö University, funded by the Swedish Inheritance Fund Commission (Allmänna arvsfonden).

At pre-schools in Skåne, including to date 2,500 children and 500 teachers, music is created together with composers, rhythm educators, choir directors, rappers, and researchers. The goal is to make a model of musical participation that will be heard across the country.

Several workshops have been carried out, resulting in numerous concepts within themes such as the mobile room, interactive environments, and music sharing (write-up of these workshops).

The last sub-project, Rösträtt LABB, was recently granted SEK 500,000 by Music Development and Heritage Sweden (Statens musikverk). One of LABB’s goals is to develop digital music tools and instruments with the help of children. This is done through a collaboration between researchers at Medea, interaction designers from Unsworn Industries and pre-school Mumindalen in Klågerup.

The vision is a platform for creating music in which music from Rösträtt projects but also other children’s music can be collected, be experienced, shared, reinterpreted, remixed and further developed – all based on the idea that children want to choose the songs themselves, they want to sing along, sing together, mimic, listen with their whole body, jump and dance.

Like creating songs with “musical lego”
The idea can be described as “musical lego” where you don’t need to be able to read to use the platform. The songs are in keys adapted to children and they can use their voices to play with the songs, deconstruct them and rebuild them in new ways.

— The professional art music rarely meet children’s culture and children’s life worlds. There are no contacts between them. Composers and musicians need to know more about how music can be created with and by children.

— Sweden has long been a pioneer with regard to choirs, music and arts schools. With new media, methods and tools, the next step to creative music making on children’s terms can be taken, says Daniel Hansson, Director of Music at Malmö University.

Hansson also believes that too little music suitable for young children is created in Sweden today.

— Kids like different types of music, even music where they aren’t the primary audience. But the music is usually not in keys that are suitable for children’s voices. Not even the so-called children’s music will always be adjusted for children’s vocal chords, he notes.

Rösträtt LABB also launches a collaboration with Kulturhuset in Stockholm. A first step will probably be an app-workshop where children can develop musical instruments and sound games.

About Rösträtt
Rösträtt is a project that involves several institutions at Malmö University as well as UNGiKÖR, and RGRA. The aim is to build participatory models that allow pre-school children to actively influence singing and music making. The project is a collaboration between Living Lab the Stage; Sofia Balic, the pedagogical leader and PhD student at the School of Education; Daniel Hansson, creative leader; and the interaction design firm Unsworn Industries that has extensive experience in building installations and experimental musical instruments, and the department Skruttet at the Mumindalen pre-school in Klågerup.

Rösträtt (a pun on “right to vote”, here with the meaning “right to voice”) is a project about children’s right to participate in and influence the society. Read more about Rösträtt here (in Swedish).

Read more
Rösträtt: The Mobile Room, Interactive Environments and Music Sharing
SEK 11 Million granted to music projects (Swedish)
Rösträtt LABB press release (Swedish)