Worldly-wise music education

The 3rd edition of Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School [1] is fresh off the press and in my hands. It feels good, and there are lots to read and think about.

The first chapter, which I authored and titled The Place of Music in the Secondary School, has two new sections. The first addresses Chris Philpott’s Hard and Soft Justifications argument [2] and the second, Music Education Now, brings the story up to date.

Chris’s Hard-Soft dichotomy is important because it gets us to think about on what basis we value music, how we think about what is it? Is music simply a good fairy that exists to shower us with blessings or something more complex in the way it exists within a maelstrom of human action and meaning making?

Chris points out that music can be tribal, exclusive and enshrine prejudice; manipulative of behaviour; gendered; reflective of social structures; propagandist; and can enshrine ideology.

I write:

‘In this way of thinking, music is already in the world, living within complex webs of meanings and continually being understood and reunderstood, interpreted and reinterpreted.’ [3] (Hence the you tube clips: Bach recontextualised in the ancient city of Palmyra for propoganda purposes; Puccini in the King Power Stadium, Leicester for celebratory purposes.)

I go on to report on Chris’s central claim that music be conceived of as a language. And here I try to clarify because this is tricky.

‘…this is not to see in music the properties of speech, such as speaking tempo, vocal pitch and intonational contours, which can be used to communicate attitudes or other shades of meaning; nor is it to see in music grammar, syntax or dialect characteristic of a musical style; but more fundamentally to see music as a language in itself, as characterised by a openess to acquired and multiple interpretations where meaning and value are determined by usage in particular contexts.’ [4]

What is important is that we are reminded that music is educative because it is first in society, in the world, embedded in culture.

We like to say music is all around us, music is everywhere. Yet the way music education is organised frequently treats music as a thing apart, abducted from the world of messy human discourse and cleansed from its social and political reality.

In chapter 2 of Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School titled Culture, Society and Music Learning Gary Spruce takes this further exploring the relationship between music, society and culture and some of the assumptions we make about the nature of music that have influenced the development of the music curriculum and the way in which it has been taught. [5]

Gary shows how contemporary thought and scholarship reorientates the basis of music education. Here is a fresh ideology to critique.

Notes:

[1] Cooke, C., Evans, K., Philpott, C., and Spruce, G. (2016) Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School: A companion to school experience 3rd Edition. Routledge: London.

[2] See Philpott, C. (2012) The justification for music in the curriculum (eds) Chris Philpott and Gary Spruce, Debates in Music Teaching, Routledge: London.

[3] Cooke, C., Evans, K., Philpott, C., and Spruce, G. (2016) Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School: A companion to school experience 3rd Edition. Routledge: London. (Page 13)

[4] Ibid, 13-14.

[5] Later chapters provide support in making a curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://teachtalkmusic.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s