Professor i musikpedagogik, Musikhögskolan, Göteborg, Sweden
"We are living in the best of musical worlds". Never in history have so many people experienced and performed music. This new technology has made it possible to both create and distribute music all over the world. In media – newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and by Internet – the music and the artists are acknowledged, but very seldom music education is put forward. The role of music education in this marvellous expansion is often neglected although its importance is huge.
What is the essence of music education? Through our language we have words and concepts like "education", "teach", "learn", "school" etc, but they don't tell us what is really going on. A research-based definition speaks of "intentions to teach" and "intentions to learn" as two basic premises for education. Consequently, the conscious purposes to teach other people as well as the conscious purpose of people's learning are the core values of music education.
Such a definition embraces all kind of music education. The most obvious feature is traditional music education in schools, community music schools and within higher music education. But music education is much more. Community music involves, for example active participation in music making of all kinds (performing, improvising and creating). The kinds of music employed encompass a wide range and diversity of music. Music may occur with cultural events, folkways and other arts. The music may reflect the cultural life of a geographical community, recreated community, or imagined community.
Musical communities take many forms. While music making groups may crystallize into unique structures, there are certain characteristics that facilitate positive group dynamics. Procedures and structures don't seem to be fixed determinants. There may be a conductor, people may take turns leading and following, or there may be a collective.
One core issue is what are the unique aspects of music education? First of all music education leads to a spirit of community. It is through the musical performances as well as experiences of music that the social dimensions of music education are strengthened. However, the forces of music education on the individual strengthen his/her e abilities to distinguish another core issue. What is good and what is bad music? This s not only a matter of skills to decide what is good and bad music for the individual, but a matter of being able to take part of the deeper aspects of music. It is here that music education can play a role in human development.