Music education seems to be passing through an interesting, if difficult period. Over a decade or so there has been a tremendous proliferation of ideas and suggestions in all branches of the profession. This is particularly noticeable at school level, where the comprehensive ‘problem’, the urban ‘problem’ and the creativity ‘movement’ have caused much soul-searching and re-appraisal of beliefs and strategies. But it is also noticeable among those teachers in higher education and even in instrumental teaching.
Music has always attracted the attention of philosophers and psychologists who find the phenomenon of music profoundly interesting and complex, an abstract yet powerful art raising all kinds of conceptual and experimental difficulties. More recently though, sociologists have turned their spotlight on music education, identifying ‘élitism’ in our professional practice, observing our narrow definitions of music confined to the Western ‘classical’ tradition and pointing out the inadequacies of our intellectual framework and teaching methodology. We are coming under fire.
It is not the purpose of this book to explore every highway and byway of music education, but rather to pick out those features that seem in greatest need of attention. Nor is it possible to specify in practical detail the answers to a multitude of various problems. Instead I am confining the issues to what I regard as central problems. The crux of it all seems to be that we badly lack any kind of conceptual framework. The consequences of this are twofold. In the first instance we miss a sense of direction in teaching, or indeed, may cheerfully take wrong directions. In the second place we are unable to look after ourselves when negotiating our way through the thickets of educational administration and politics, at whatever level in the system we may