A passionate case for the centrality of music in children's education; originally published in Norway. Using research findings and his own impressionistic evidence of children in three cultures, musicologist Bjfrkvold begins at the beginning--fetal responses to sound--as he emphasizes the importance of rhythm, movement, and song as sources of creativity. The play of young children, he maintains, is where ""reason acquires wings,"" and is a universal necessity for social and cognitive development as well. Most schools, Bjfrkvold contends, systematically repress the best of childhood impulses, putting the youthful culture in conflict with adult rules--though this is a somewhat familiar argument less likely to astonish American readers than the Scandinavians who--we're told--made this book a bestseller. Bjfrkvold shows a profound respect for children's energies and natural learning tendencies, and he introduces similarities to be found among Norwegian, American, and Russian schoolchildren--song formulas, for example, and capacities for improvisation. He offers an interesting appreciation of the language of rock music--more expressive, he says, than ""art music""--and presents strongly held opinions on the disadvantages of early formal music study (""the long shadow of Mozart"") and on the state of most school-based music instruction (""still at the Dick and Jane stage""). Although most of the text can be understood without a firm grasp of musical notation, the chapter on Shostakovich is extremely challenging, more than most general readers will want to follow. Still, many will find his ardor compelling, right down to the notion that death comes ""when the foot stops tapping.