(A blog revisited)
Thomas Turino’s Music as Social Life: the politics of participation  is a fine example of musical scholarship and as such thought provoking. And, for me, this means that I reorder some of my conceptions of what music is, what it is for and just what is a music education. 
I often wonder to what extent music scholarship should shape the way we think about music education. If music is a subject of the curriculum because it is thought to be an important aspect of the human mind, a biological and cultural entity of considerable significance, then it would seem reasonable to mind the gap between scholarly understanding of music and the practice of music education.
Thomas Turino is professor of musicology and anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign.
At the beginning of chapter 2 titled Participatory and Presentational Performance he writes:
‘Because we have one word – music – it is a trick of the English language that we tend to think of music making as a single art form. Certainly we know that there are different kinds of music. We have lots of words ranging from rather broad ones – folk, classical, world music – which are meant to encompass everything, to ever more specific labels – (rock) roots, psychedelic, alternative, grunge, glam, punk, (metal) heavy metal, speed metal, death metal. Musical categories are created by musicians, critics, fans, the music industry, and academics alike. These labels are used to distinguish styles and products, but they tell us little about how and why people make the particular music they do and the values that underpin the ways they make it.’ 
Turino is interested in why people make the particular music they do and the values that underpin the way they make it. In this way he is able to create two fresh categories, two frames for better understanding the nature and purpose of music making. There is the participatory and the presentational.
‘Presentational performance … refers to situations where one group of people, the artists, prepare and provide music for another group, the audience, who do not participate in making the music or dancing.’ 
The ethic of presentational performance is a dominant one in many systems of music education.
On the other hand there is ‘participatory performance’.
‘… participatory performance is a special type of artistic practice in which there are no artist-audience distinctions, only participants performing different roles, and the primary goal is to involve the maximum number of people in some performance role.’ 
Turino’s examples are drawn from his field work amongst indigenous Peruvians, rural and urban Zimbabweans, and old-time North American musicians and dancers. The ceilidh, the silent disco, the Sheffield Christmas-time pub carolling are examples close to home. These are times when people gather knowing that they will in some way take part in a musical event (performance) in which all will take part. These events inspire participation because they welcome new timers and old timers alike. It’s like going to a party. You expect to participate.
Turino analyses participatory values. Unlike presentational performance values ‘the success of participatory performance is more importantly judged by the degree and intensity of participation than by some abstracted assessment of the musical sound quality’. 
The values and goals of presentational performance lead in the direction of abstracted assessment criteria relating to the qualities of musical sound.
I am reminded of my account of a school’s silent disco https://jfin107.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/putting-assessment-back-in-its-box/ and implications for the process of valuing (assessment).
In another example a music teacher highlights the distinction between Turino’s two modes.
‘At the end of a recent GCSE recital an informal 45 minute jam broke out, led by the students (though after a while the teachers couldn’t help but join in). Students began to play and mash together various songs that they had studied at Key stage three – Seven Nation Army, Sweet Dreams, Thrift Shop. There was a sense that the students were claiming this music as their own. The outpouring of joy was palpable (although a small number of students did not feel that they could easily include themselves in this musicking and so left.)’ 
The GCSE recital exemplifies presentational musical performance while the jam shows something of the participatory ethic which is likely to have had something of the intensity that Turino speaks of.
Of course, the commitment to communal achievement resonates with what is thought to be the informality of community music-making where the pedagogy serves the idea of forming a musical community. But is that really different to a class of 25 in their weekly music lesson? Wouldn’t we want the class to come to music lessons knowing that there will be communal achievement?
The ethos of building a community of music-makers would place emphasis on individual talent, differential achievement and the paraphernalia of assessment that marks out formal systems of schooling in a fresh light.
‘This would mean that instead of focusing on clearly defined goals, assessed with some measure of achievement, evaluation would be first and foremost interested in musical experience, valued in qualitative terms. If we accept that education is, at root, ‘a process of living and not a preparation for future living’ (Dewey  1996), it makes sense to pay attention to the richness of music-related meanings emerging from the active relationships of sonic events, music(k)ers and physical space.’ 
So instead of following a typically schooled pattern of assessment where each pupil is measured against norms derived from, in the case of the Silent Disco, Club Dance practice, the communal achievement of the group would be evaluated in wider socio-musical terms.
For example, how well has our silent disco enabled us to live/experience/know music, think about what it means to live music together with others? Have we created a community of practice, explored new relationships, musically-socially? Where do we go from here?
Perhaps the place to start is to develop a music-making community that together produces ‘excellent work’ (music made well, polished).
I have been running with Turino’s categories and trying to open up new thought within the practice of music education, an example of making a relationship between contemporary musical scholarship and the contemporary practice of music education. Just imagine a GCSE in Music where participatory performance in the community were a valued, essential and compulsory component. Shouldn’t we mind the gap?
I do of course recommend reading the Turino in full to compensate for my lack of depth.
 Turino, T. (2007) Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. The University of Chicago Press: London.
 I am a restless soul in this respect.
 ibid, 23.
 ibid, 26.
 ibid, 26.
 ibid, 33.
 Email correspondence.
 Odendaal, A., Kankkunen, O., Nickkannen, H. and Vakeva, L. (2014) ‘What’s with the K? Exploring the implications of Christopher Small’s ‘musicking’ for general music education.’ Music Education Research, (16) 2, 162-175.
Dewey, J.  1996. ‘’My Pedagogical Creed.’’ In The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953. The Early Works of John Dewey, 1882-1898. Vol. 5, edited by L. Hickman, 84-95. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.