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Music Matters

A New Philosophy of Music Education

by David J. Elliott

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list price: $97.95
category: Music
published: 1995

There is a mystery about music. On one hand, music making and music listening have occupied a prominent place in every culture since the dawn of recorded history and people everywhere continue to engage in a variety of musical experiences as part of their daily lives. Yet questions about the nature and value of music and its importance as a subject of education remain perplexing to many thinkers and are still hotly debated, even today. As a result, while music has been part of the school curriculum since antiquity, its profound contribution to general education has never been harnessed--until now. What is music? Does music deserve a place in general education? If so, why? Music Matters builds new answers to these basic questions through a wide-ranging examination of music as a diverse human practice. The result is a ground-breaking philosophy of music education that provides critically reasoned perspectives on the nature and significance of performing, listening, musicianship, multiculturalism, creativity, consciousness, curriculum development, and more. Indeed, Music Matters is exceptional for the attention it pays to many aspects of music and education that previous music education doctrine either misses or ignores altogether. Following an incisive critique of past thinking, this important text develops a multidimensional concept of music that explains why music making and listening are unique forms of thinking and unique sources of the most important kinds of knowing that human beings can gain. In a richly detailed narrative that examines a wealth of recent philosophical and psychological research, the author constructs a compelling philosophical foundation that allows teachers to affirm to themselves and others that music deserves a central place in the education of all people. Among the many working ideas of this new philosophy is a distinctive concept of "curriculum-as-practicum" that explains how music educators can fulfill their educational mandate. Invaluable as a core text for courses on foundations of music education or philosophy of music education at both the undergraduate and graduate level, Music Matters provides educators with critically reasoned perspectives on the "why, what, and how" of music teaching and learning, arguing convincingly that music is one of the most vital, dynamic, and practical pursuits in the human repertoire and, therefore, fundamental to the full development of the individual and collective self.

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Contributor notes

David J. Elliott is a Professor of Music Education and Graduate Adviser for Music Education, New York University.

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Editorial Reviews

"Music education historians will find much food for thought in Elliott's book....[H]is is a true philosophy of music education, not a philosophy of music or a rationale for music education masquerading as a philosophy....His work must be cheered as by far the most sophisticated philosophy of music education to date. It takes into account many of the positive things that are being achieved by music education, and points the way toward improvements in the future. [It] may cause music education historians to consider the role of paradigms in the philosophy of music education, in their own historical research, and in historical research in general."--Jere T. Humphreys, Arizona State University, in The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education

"A very provocative book. This is an important addition to the music education library."--Steven J. Morrison, University of Washington

"[This text] escapes the growing dilemmas of past important past works, and brings a useful organization of newer views to a philosophy of music education for the coming generation."--James Rouintree, Anderson University

"Bravo, David Elliott! You've provided an important addition to the required reading list of those sincerely interested in the teaching/learning process in music!"--Bernard Dobroski, Dean, Northwestern University School of Music

"A readable, thought-provoking resource for reflection on the philosophical basis of Musical Education."--Doris Herlein, Grand Valley State University

"It is a delight as well as a benefit to the profession to have a philosophical foundation that is both comprehensive and still focused on music education."--Thomas Goolsh, University of Washington

"Brilliant, thought-provoking, stimulating! Should be required reading for all music education students and teachers."--Robert Garofalo, Catholic University of America

"David J. Elliott's Music Matters should prove to be a watershed in the history of our profession, because the author dramatically takes issue with some of the most cherished assumptions of mainstream philosophy in music education today....Elliott is exceptionally well- and widely-read, incorporating a wealth of information from diverse sources....[He] has produced a book that will stimulate discussion well into the future. It should be read by all music educators..."--Music Educators Journal

"This book will help guide music education into the next century!"--Scott Emmons, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"Graduate students in our program are all in-service music teachers. They find Music Matters very accessible. Ideas presented by Elliott provoked thoughtful discussions about the role of music education in today's schools."--Margaret Schmidt, St. Cloud State University

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