Academic journal article Canadian University Music Review

Music Education and Post-Secondary Music Studies in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian University Music Review

Music Education and Post-Secondary Music Studies in Canada

Article excerpt

We generally speak of "music studies" as if they were straightforwardly and simply the study of music: learning about and/or developing proficiency in music, wherein "studies" are simply means to, and thus largely incidental to, the ends of musical expertise or fluency. But musical studies are not mere neutral means to musical ends, of significance solely by virtue of the music and musicianship they are concerned to impart. How we study, how we engage in our art with each other and with our students, and to what ends-the processes of musical education, in other words-ought to be vital concerns as well. My intent here is to address the matters to which this issue of the Canadian University Music Review is devoted from the perspective of music education: the discipline concerned to study, research, and refine the processes of teaching and learning music. It is important to reflect upon the ways we conceptualize the studies in which we engage our students; upon the ways music is taught and learned; and upon what, in addition to "music itself," may be taught and learned in those processes. In the end, I will raise what I hope to be challenging questions about our understanding of music education, its aims and obligations, its constituencies, and its effectiveness.

The last twenty-five years have been momentous ones within the academy, as much of what was once regarded as foundationally given has been subjected to vigorous and rigorous critique. Challenges to conventional truths have come from feminist and women's studies, from neo-Marxist and critical theory, from cultural studies, from semiology, from post-structuralism, and from discourse theory. Ideas like constructivism and performativity, deconstruction, and the decentring of identity have become fairly common currency in an era widely characterized as postmodern and post-colonial. Plurality and diversity have become more salient than unity and uniformity, undermining the comfort once afforded by notions like a prior truths, transcendental ideals, formal unity, and immanent or inherent meanings. Enlightenment ideals Uke truth, beauty, justice, and progress have become sites of struggle and contestation, and value claims once deemed absolute are now widely regarded as culturally and contextually relative. In education, critical pedagogy has heightened awareness of the subtle ways instructional practices construct and entrench power and privilege, and how at the same time they create marginals and marginality. In music, resistant, even disruptive readings, interpretations, analyses, and performances have begun to proliferate. The incorporation of ethnomusicology, jazz, and most recently, popular music studies into our curricula has caused us to re-assess once-comfortable understandings of music's nature and value, introducing an element of uncertainty where stability and security once prevailed. These are turbulent yet vital times: disturbing, challenging, yet at the same time filled with exciting possibilities for growth and transformation.

During this same period of time, the Canadian music education discipline has seen interesting developments. Computers and MIDI technology have been added to the arsenal of technical fluencies we expect graduates to demonstrate. We have become much more aware of the diversity of the world's musics, and much less inclined to act as if "ours" were the "only game in town"-even if nothing resembling consensus has begun to emerge on the extent to which Canadian music education should be multicultural, or what that might imply for practice. Music educators have also been active participants in that most Canadian of preoccupations, the effort to identify, define, and preserve distinctly Canadian culture-even if such identity remains as elusive as ever. And Canadian scholars in music education have contributed prominently and influentially to the discipline's professional literature on an international level.

Within the borders of a conventionally construed music education discipline, then, there has been substantial activity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.