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The Art of Teaching Music

Estelle R. Jorgensen

Publication Year: 2008

The Art of Teaching Music takes up important aspects of the art of music teaching ranging from organization to serving as conductor to dealing with the disconnect between the ideal of university teaching and the reality in the classroom. Writing for both established teachers and instructors on the rise, Estelle R. Jorgensen opens a conversation about the life and work of the music teacher. The author regards music teaching as interrelated with the rest of lived life, and her themes encompass pedagogical skills as well as matters of character, disposition, value, personality, and musicality. She reflects on musicianship and practical aspects of teaching while drawing on a broad base of theory, research, and personal experience. Although grounded in the practical realities of music teaching, Jorgensen urges music teachers to think and act artfully, imaginatively, hopefully, and courageously toward creating a better world.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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pp. ix-xiii

I have oft en remarked to my students on the similarity of teaching and music. In thinking of teaching as an art and craft , I see teaching as a metaphor for music and music as a metaphor for teaching. Th is double-metaphor may not seem, at least superficially, to get us very far. ...

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1. Teacher

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pp. 1-15

The role of teacher is one of many facets of our lives or one of several functions that we fulfill as human beings. It is important to discover what it is to be a teacher and what place this persona will play in the totality of our lives. How we conceive of this function and its location in lived life ...

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2. Value

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pp. 16-34

All that we do as musician- teachers is driven by matters of value and the particular things that we prize. Lately, there has been a lot of political and religious talk in the United States about values.1 The prejudicial ways in which this word has too oft en been used as a code for certain beliefs that are held to be immutable and that may reflect the views of a limited spectrum of society make me uneasy. ...

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3. Disposition

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pp. 35-56

People tend to act in particular ways almost habitually, unconsciously, or naturally. Thinking holistically about a teacher’s disposition is important, but it is also crucial to consider some of the specific dispositions that are needed for teaching. By the word disposition, I mean the tendency to act or ...

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4. Judgment

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pp. 57-77

When I first began to teach, I gave relatively little thought to defending my judgments about my teaching and the achievements of my students. I had reasons for my decisions and actions, and I was intent on designing and implementing instructional programs that would entice my students by a variety of means to learn what I had to teach them. Students, parents and ...

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5. Leader

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pp. 78-93

Musical instruction generally occurs in large and small groups. Whether with a studio class in which a handful of students are gathered to listen and play, or an orchestra, band, or choir, a music teacher oft en works with groups. Even where a tradition of private studio lessons has emerged as a basis for performance instruction, much can be gained by thinking of a ...

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6. Musician

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pp. 94-110

As a music teacher, I think of myself as a musician—a maker of music. Even though I no longer perform publicly, this persona shaped my earlier life and the way I think about music teaching. I suppose I was a musician before I was a teacher, and I do not remember a time in which I was without music in my life. Th e story of becoming a musician is inevitably that ...

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7. Listener

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pp. 111-134

Musicians work primarily with sounds that are instrumental and vocal, acoustic and electronically generated, composed, improvised, and performed, and heard in live and recorded performances, where music is both the focus of and ancillary to social events. It is important, therefore, to think about the various ways in which these sounds are heard. ...

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8. Performer

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pp. 135-160

Music needs to be brought alive through performance. We may hear music imaginatively without needing to hear it as phenomenal sound; however, we hope ultimately to hear music performed or realized sonically. John Cage’s 4'33", a piece consisting of silence, is a statement of this reality.1 Its meaning depends on indeterminacy in which the silences within which a ...

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9. Composer

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pp. 161-182

Thinking about composing from a teacher’s perspective requires focusing on the act of composing and its relationship to performing and listening, and the ways in which composing can be fostered throughout music education, from elementary to advanced levels of instruction. Composing is one of the least- emphasized aspects of musical instruction in general ...

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10. Organzation

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pp. 183-198

We cannot teach effectively unless we have tidy minds and can successfully manage time, space, instructional resources, and personnel in our instructional situation. I refer to the instructional situation because it is very varied. Examples include a shaded area under a tree, home setting, studio, school room, church, synagogue, temple, concert hall, or opera house, to ...

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11. Design

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pp. 199-214

One of the crucial decisions we make as musician- teachers is to lay out a plan for how we will teach our students, how we will interact with them, and what we will accomplish together. Confronted with the challenge of students who wish to study with us or classes of students whom we have been assigned to teach, it can be tempting to skip right to the most ...

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12. Instruction

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pp. 215-232

Instruction occurs at the point at which our plans and ideas about what we wish to do or think we might be able to accomplish as teachers meet the realities of our interaction with our students. We may encounter students one by one and in groups of various sizes. They come from many different countries, ethnicities, and linguistic and cultural traditions and ...

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13. Imagination

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pp. 233-253

As musician- teachers, we deal especially with the imagination.1 Whether concerning aspects of musical performing, listening, composing, improvising, or the various educational activities of working with colleagues and students, we prompt imaginative thought and action. What do we mean by imagination? Can and should it be educated and even re- educated? If so, ...

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14. Reality

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pp. 254-278

Reflecting on how things are and how they have been during a working lifetime brings me to crucial matters regarding the reality of music teaching from my own vantage point. Whether we are just beginning or further along the road as teachers, facing the reality of teaching is important in determining what we are to do in the future. Recently, a young teacher told ...

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pp. 279-284

Thinking about the various aspects of music teaching about which I have written in this book, I pause to reflect on the themes that seem to recur. Excavating beneath what lies on the surface enables us to see things that might otherwise disappear from view. These leavings may be what Paulo Freire means when he talks of “generative themes,” or the ideas that drive ...


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pp. 285-333


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pp. 335-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780253000200
E-ISBN-10: 0253000203
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253350787

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2008