After the rhetoric of the Westminster Forum,
free from the hub-bub of music education’s status anxiety,
away from the rhetoric of its cloying advocacy
and its injunction to puppetier each child: ‘I am a musician’
I thought I would quietly ask:
Why is it that we have so little sense of how the subject named music is grounded, the nature of its disciplinary framework, its ontos?
How it might be educational and not simply participatory?
How might it stand up to, resist and see off a swirrling marketplace of ideas, snakeoil salesmen, innovation voyers, packages of what to do. And the debilitating discourse of technical rationality reducing the richness of classroom relationships to edubable and the chant-rant ‘watch my lips-there are no sub-levels’?
A start might be to ask the kind of questions not heard at those forums purporting to further the cause of music education. They are straightforward questions that might give what we do in the name of music education an ethical trajectory in which the music teacher in tandem with the pupil has great responsibility – responsibility for the way music is made and thought about – responsibility for the meanings that are made through music-making together.
1. How do I decide what to teach?
2. What questions will this raise for my pupils?
4. What questions will it raise for me the teacher?
5. How will it tell more about how music is made?
6. How will it make sense of music as a social-cultural practice?
7. How will it help us better understand what music is?
8. How will we together evaluate the worth of what we have experienced and come to know?
9. How can we progress from here?
Responsibility, not accountability.