What professional musicians say and do affects the attitudes and actions of music educators in the classroom. One example comes from influential conductor/composer, Gunther Schuller, who, in his controversial 1997 book, The Compleat Conductor, defines, espouses, and recommends his own “philosophy of conducting.” An examination of his ideas and, more importantly, the assumptions that premise them, demonstrates that Schuller fails to situate his beliefs within the larger historical framework of aesthetic philosophy. It also serves as a useful example of how we, as conductor/educators, are prone to distance ourselves from educational philosophy as a product of the systematic examination of beliefs. This is dangerous because, through conducting, one necessarily reinforces a philosophy of music, which is itself situated within the general realm of aesthetic philosophy. This paper summarizes Shuller’s interpretation of conducting, identifies the unarticulated realist and idealist assumptions within, critiques his “philosophy,” and discusses the implications of this prescriptive approach to instrumental music education.


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pp. 97-108
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