Thinking figuratively through metaphor and analogy is an important means whereby the work of philosophy proceeds. Although such thought may seem to be the province of creative writers, poets, and dramatists, from antiquity philosophers have thought in terms of metaphors, analogies, and allegories as important means to make their ideas. So one expects to see this sort of thinking sprinkled liberally throughout and even infusing philosophical discourse in music education.
Figures of speech not only serve a constructive purpose of suggesting ideas that may subsequently be mined systematically but they have a critical purpose of interrogating ideas and practices. It is in the latter role particularly that they are used in the present issue. Our writers begin with problems that they see as endemic to the field and in this examination, they have recourse to metaphors and analogies. Still, while critical, their purpose is ultimately constructive in showing how these problems might be overcome and music education improved. For them, it does not suffice to point out the flaws in present beliefs and practices in the field. Rather, metaphors and analogies are invoked as ways to suggest alternative approaches to the ideas and practices of music education.
As might be expected, given the variety of the images invoked, the directions these images seem to point likewise differ. For some of our writers, these directions are towards traditional ideas, values, and practices; for others, they subvert traditional approaches and suggest different and new strategies. Matters relating to the competing claims of intrinsic musical interests of music education and its extrinsic or instrumental purposes are of particular interest. These differing claims are manifest in distinctions between music’s artistic purposes and methods [End Page 1] (and those of the traditional apprenticeship model by which it has often been transmitted from one generation to the next) and music’s (and music education’s) social and cultural purposes in contributing to a humane and civil society. Our contributors come down on different sides of these issues. Still, whether pointing towards tradition or change, and inspired either by the claims of the past or the future, all of the writers in this issue look toward subverting and enriching present ways of thinking about and doing the work of music education.
Leading off this issue, in the second installment of her two-part essay begun in the recent issue of PMER (Fall 2009, vol. 17, no. 2), Julia Koza worries with issues of control, management, and discipline in music education and criticizes the “strict father” and military metaphors she finds in music educational writing. Consonant with other writers such as Deborah Britzman and Alfie Kohn, and drawing on the metaphor of her own experience, she sketches the lines of a different perspective on music education that acknowledges the limits of control and hopes for a more humane approach to its work. David Waller criticizes music education for its emphasis on music reading over writing and suggests that the analogy between literacy and musical literacy made by music educators is marked by an undue deference to the written word. Contra the view that music writing is the province of a musical elite or that it is as important as it is commonly taken to be, Waller proposes that music writing can serve a liberatory purpose in broadening the public’s participation in musical writing and fostering its musical self-expression and active engagement in music making. In response to contemporary challenges to string education in schools, Brenda Brenner draws on the metaphor of the artist and apprenticeship to suggest a raison d’etre for string education that is critical of extant justifications and pleads for intrinsic rather than instrumental purposes of string education in schools. Brenner urges an artistic approach that requires a high level of musicianship and pedagogical preparation on the part of string teachers and a concomitant high level of musicianship and musicality on the part of students at every point along the way from most elementary to advanced levels of instruction. Such an approach can, in her view, meet the present challenges and attract excellent string teachers and students to string programs in schools. In a different vein, Rubén...