What is Music Pedagogy? Universality of Education in Sound and Sound in Education

Library Resources | Tina Frühauf | August 01, 2019

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Dr. Tina Frühauf, Associate Executive Editor at Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM), explains the history and evolution of music pedagogy.

Learning music is as old as music-making itself, tracing back to the earliest times of civilization, that is prehistory. Since then, the world’s cultures have developed different systems of teaching and learning – one may think of maguru panggul, literally, “teaching with the mallet” in Bali and Java; or the system of the Xhosa in Ngqoko, South Africa, which is based on the progression incentive – songs –techniques – terminology. Master – apprentice approaches have been common in many cultures around the globe and throughout history, from the troubadours to the guru-śiṣya paramparā tradition in India to the Bach family. But as a field of study, music education has only been established in later modernity and it was not until the twentieth century that it moved towards becoming a discipline in its own right: music pedagogy.

In its broader sense, music pedagogy refers to all practical, application-oriented, as well as scholarly efforts aimed at teaching and instruction. The tasks of music pedagogy focus on ability, knowledge, experience, understanding, and interpretation in all areas of music. As such music pedagogy includes the related concepts of music education, didactics, teaching, and instruction in music, although their distinctions are neither clear nor consensual.

In its narrower sense, music pedagogy has come to refer to the scholarly reflection of and theory formation within all its fields. Systematic music pedagogy thus provides the practical, applied areas with a theoretical basis for their actions and reflects on aesthetic, psychological, and sociological questions on the meaning and effect of music and on the reception of art in the most diverse forms of music. As such it serves artistic, scholarly and didactic practice.

As a field of study, music education has only been established in later modernity and it was not until the twentieth century that it moved towards becoming a discipline in its own right: music pedagogy.

With music pedagogy’s evolution in the twentieth century, many distinctive approaches further developed or received refinement and new methods came to the fore. Among them, the Kodály method named after Hungary’s charismatic composer and pedagogue, eurhythmics developed by the Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, the Schulwerk of Carl Orff in Germany and the Suzuki method created by the Japanese violinist and pedagogue.

Paralleling its establishment as an independent discipline, the institutionalization of music pedagogy began as well. Aside from its place in the academy, music university or college, and school, music education also takes place in individualized, lifelong learning and community contexts. Both amateur and professional musicians typically take music lessons, short private sessions with an individual teacher. In all these diverse efforts and approaches, all share the goal to educate people how to produce organized sound, make and transmit music, and do it well.

RILM abstracts and indexes music pedagogy topics, representing as many countries and languages as possible. RILM also offers a selection of music-pedagogy journals in full text. Request a free trial to benefit from the RILM suite of resources.

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Tina Frühauf
Associate Executive Editor

As Associate Executive Editor at RILM, Tina Frühauf is responsible for acquiring the content for RILM’s newest projects, while also planning and overseeing marketing activities. Dr. Frühauf teaches at Columbia University and is on the doctoral faculty of The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. An active scholar and writer, Frühauf’s research is centered on music and Jewish studies, especially in religious contexts but also art music, historiography, and Jewish community (through participatory action research), often crossing the methodological boundaries between ethnomusicology and historical musicology. She has received fellowships and grants from the American Musicological Society, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others.

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