Violins as Children’s Objects
This chapter considers anthropological perspectives to work by considering some ways in which the violin is associated with children. Violin repertory includes technically demanding works that can showcase virtuoso prowess, attractive for demonstrating the skills of the few individuals identified as prodigies or musical geniuses. Talent and virtuosity are culturally and historically situated, apparent in public responses to prodigy violinists. The chapter examines the following questions: How are understandings of childhood and children’s potential enacted through music education? Under what circumstances do concepts such as talent, virtuosity, or genius become culturally elaborated? Anxious parents, raising children in a socially stratified, economically competitive climate, may be eager to grasp the latest technique that promises enhancement of their child’s potential. The availability of tiny violins and a cultural association of violin-playing with difficulty or achievement have made the instrument an apt object for child prodigies.