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ix Preface To attend to music today is to find ourselves pushing back the boundaries of what we have thought of as beautiful music. I still wonder at how unaware I was of so many frequencies; and I wonder how many remain unheard. —Maxine Greene Icall attention to a tone of longing and melancholy in the quotation above. Greene speaks about an awareness of the unseen and unheard, about expanding the horizons of perception and thought, about finding openings in the closed and categorical. Though she passed away during the writing of this book, when I read the passage above, I can still hear her voice: her Brooklyn accent, the timbre of which my Midwestern ears found exotic when, a quarter of a century ago, I first attended her classes on aesthetics and education. She spoke forcefully about the shock of a new awareness and the way new frequencies of thought and experience unsettle the comforts of everyday life. My search for new forms of school and university music education comes out of such a passion, which was enlarged and then funded by Greene’s teachings and, later, further influenced by John Dewey’s and others. This longing has given form to my music classrooms. Sometimes I shape it purposefully in designing an assignment or modeling a teaching event. But often I simply feel it intuitively as I muddle toward an educational objective just out of mind’s reach. What would it mean to teach from this tonal palate? What would it mean to look beyond the known and knowable, to listen for new frequencies, to suspend the categorical in favor of the unfinished? I want to consider a way of teaching in which outcomes are as unpredictable as they are (currently) certain. I want to be more open in helping students design experiences that fund their needs and wishes. I want to explore what it means to create the irreducible classroom, to profit from a teacher’s unrepeatable moment in time and the confluence of these students with you and me at this place and this time. I hope to assemble a sense of how life and art can lead both teachers and students to explore larger and richer arenas of meaning and experience. I share with Greene the idea that teachers are at their best when they are on the edge between knowing and unknowing, learning and unlearning. I share with Dewey the idea that growth is its own reward, that our capacities as teachers are idiosyncratically motivated, and that the enlargement and enrichment of these capacities, when combined with others, are x | Preface pleasures in themselves. I want to recapture a sense of wonder and surprise that has been trained out of too many university music majors. Music education in this vision is profoundly nonstandard. “I still wonder at how unaware I was of so many frequencies; and I wonder how many remain unheard.” It would be unkind to call attention to the age at which Greene made this reflection, except to say that Greene’s longings represent the kind of education that continues across lifespans and life histories; it certainly doesn’t end upon the completion of a university degree, one’s promotion from apprentice to Master, or the passage of one generation of musician-teachers to the next. This insistent appeal for open encounters in art and in life is a major theme of this book. So is the passage of time, as I call attention to the points at which today’s musicians and music educators have been inserted by history and circumstance. I compel the reader to move beyond the comfortable. Still, I suppose few teachers can be blamed for wanting to freeze time in its tracks, to tune out the unlovely and surprising, to quiet the buzzing of twentyfirst -century life, and to limit the endless voices that demand our empathy. The world is as unstable as ever, and so is teaching. There may be a great longing by many for the closed and categorical. With so much at stake—a world upended by capitalism; the everydayness of violence, austerity, and need; a global obsession with measurement and assessment—what use do we have for an educational platform that is unapologetically difficult and unsafe? Does the world need an argument for openness, especially when the structures of life and living appear inhospitable to an empowered citizenry? We live in an era of great contradiction. Globalization and moving data are just as likely...


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