Tuesday, 31 October 2006

15: A Rationale for Music Education

15: A Rationale for Music Education

Clifford K. Madsen

Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, Center for Music Research, The Florida State University

For those who value knowledge, the learning process is perpetual throughout life's time and includes: (1) the ability to think, and therefore, value and discriminate, (2) the ability to feel, and therefore, become sensitive to aesthetic qualities in life, and (3) the courage to act, and therefore, translate those abilities to think and feel into overt behavior. The study of music, because it includes cognitive, aesthetic and experiential participation advances these attributes.

Musical training creates a respect and desire for continuing aesthetic experiences, and the ability to react positively, listen responsively, and participate enthusiastically in an artistically sensitive manner. Music study promotes positive interpersonal attributes and participation enables one to be empathetic with people of differing social and ethnic backgrounds. Music study encourages students to demonstrate mature attitudes and positive values because of shared experiences in highly structured activities that are responsive to the emotional commonalities in life.

While music participation enhances intellectual development, it is an activity that is extremely broad in its capacity to include every child: the poor, ethnic minorities, children of the inner cities, the handicapped, and the highly gifted. It does this at all levels from pre-birth through adulthood with continuing life-long programs. Music study helps each student understand him/herself as a person. It assists in the development of positive attitudes and keener insights toward others within the world community.

In addition to advancing personal competencies in music performance, the study of music includes improvisation, conducting, composing, arranging, analysis, history, varied repertoire, as well as other skills, where students are exposed to other arts, the sciences and the humanities. The study of music helps students approach life in a positive, imaginative, and enthusiastic manner and the schooled musician evidences the personal qualities of leadership, intellectual curiosity, and social commitment.

The task of structuring and managing a musical environment in which individuals, regardless of ability level, positively experience, successfully achieve, and hence, come to value the art of music, demands a breadth of knowledge and skills, as well as high levels of perception and sensitivity. All music study should be based upon an important yet extremely simple premise—that every person involved as a learner ought to have the best and most complete instruction possible. This premise includes a commitment to the subject of music and its use with people. The strength of this commitment is evidenced by academic and social behaviors in life, both in and out of the music environment, and is characterized by diligence in the pursuit of musical and academic excellence and active dedication to the improvement of the quality of life.

The acquisition and development of these abilities requires an intellectual and experiential commitment that is realized in daily living and is maintained and strengthened during formal and informal music study continuing throughout one's lifetime.

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