Understanding Music as the Philosophical Focus of Music Education

Keith Swanwick

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394733
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Understanding Music as the Philosophical Focus of Music Education

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  • Music Education and Pedagogy



This article argues that if philosophy is to illuminate the decisions and practice of music educators, then it is more helpful to see it as analytical and clarificatory rather than as a separate ungrounded discipline. Perhaps the most crucial and potentially useful work of philosophy for music education is the ongoing attempt to understand the nature, qualities, and functions of musical activity itself. The article argues that the fundamental challenge is to focus music education on involved “listening” rather than overhearing, to devote musical instruction to developing the capacity to respond to music in the richest possible way, whether as performer, creator, or audience member.

Keywords: musical activity; musical philosophy; music educators; effective musical instruction

Article.  8373 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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