Teaching Music Musically

Teaching Music Musically

Teaching Music Musically

Teaching Music Musically


Through practical examples Keith Swanwick illustrates layers of musical experience and outlines key principles for music educators on musical teaching. Chapters deal with the value, culture, assessment and the future of music education. There is a also a broader appeal to anyone who invents or performs music, those involved in music psychology, sociology, music promotion and music instructors.


This book is for those musicians who think of themselves also as teachers. It is intended for anyone who invents or performs music and for those who may not perform but who respond vitally to music and are inquisitive about its value and function. I hope too that the work may also contribute to the field of the psychology of music, especially if psychologists choose to substitute their formulation ‘musical cognition’ for my preferred terminology, ‘musical understanding’.

In particular, though, the book is intended to inform the theory and practice of music education and help practising and intending teachers. My conception of music education embraces not only teaching in the formal classrooms of schools and colleges and the activities of instrumental instructors. There are many other people who teach music and facilitate access to music without necessarily thinking of themselves as teachers in any formal sense. These include music promoters, composers, performers, programme writers, critics, people in TV, film and radio, organisers of festivals, adjudicators, examiners and those many informal music-makers who, while they may be unattached to institutions, are very active in our communities.

My main aim is to offer a transparent account of the nature of musical experience and to follow through the implications of this perspective for music education wherever it occurs. Obviously, the latter depends substantially on the former: for we can neither teach nor think insightfully about teaching what we do not ourselves understand. The first two chapters of the book are therefore concerned with music itself, with its metaphorical significance and value and with the social dimension of musical discourse. These have always seemed to me to be central issues for all musicians and certainly for music educators.

The central chapter of the book focuses on music education. By way of examples, I attempt to tease out strands of musical experience and set out three fundamental

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