A Personal Philosophy of Music Education
Few would argue against the idea that we educate ourselves and our society so that we have adequate means with which to understand and interact with elements of the world around us. Subjects such as mathematics, language, history, and the hard sciences are granted immediate and unquestioned legitimacy in our schools, and with good reason. We encounter each of these elements of our lives on a daily basis. We need to have an understanding of these disciplines in order to interact with them, otherwise they are meaningless to us. I submit that the same can be said for the fundamental concepts of music. Music is something that we encounter in our society every day. It surrounds us. Indeed it would be practically impossible to escape. Like so many other naturally occurring phenomena, a discipline has been developed over centuries to help us interact with music, and that discipline is what I and those of my profession are charged with teaching.
Before addressing the need for music instruction in our schools I would like to briefly examine the need for education of any kind. Education is a means of making sure our society has a given set of knowledge. The set of knowledge we perceive ourselves as needing changes based on our surroundings and the issues we are dealing with. In American education's early history we perceived ourselves as needing a set of knowledge that included a common language and common view of history, as well as knowledge of those things with which we would interact every day. In many ways early public education was more a means of social control than an altruistic endeavor. In today's climate we see ourselves as having more diverse needs in our education to suit the elements of our world with which we interact.
After decades upon decades of public schooling in America we can clearly see a connection between education and quality of life. This connection is both quantitative and qualitative in that quality of life increasingly benefits from both the amount of education we receive and the quality of that education. To a great extent we define our quality of life based on economic status. Education has been very clearly shown to allow us access to employment, and to make us more informed consumers. Thus, an educated society is one that is capable of developing individuals who can both specialize, and who can make informed decisions about goods and services outside their area of specialization. This is a central need to both industries and citizens in a capitalist society.
This is one reason why music is such an important thing for every member of society to learn, even if they are not music specialists such as performers or composers. As I stated earlier, virtually every member of our society encounters music every day. There are many objective elements of music that we need to be familiar with in order to successfully interact with it. These include...