An important purpose of philosophizing about music education is to shed light on aspects that may either have been taken for granted by musician teachers or misunderstood in their practice. Revisioning and revisiting beliefs and practices challenge the status quo and unsettle comfortable norms, expectations, and activities. Nevertheless, this is philosophy’s work in both imagining and critiquing the assumptions that should guide the field. The COVID-19 pandemic through which we are living has created additional urgency to the task of thinking about music and education in different ways and prompts those who are invested in the tasks of creating a civil and cultured society to reexamine past commitments and allegiances. Among these challenges are matters concerning the ways in which instrumental music education should be conducted, the inclusion and integration of indigenous musics and cultures in music curricula, the problematic of storying as a vehicle for social change, the claims of culturally sustainable pedagogy, the importance of silence and non-action, and the possibilities of misinterpreting what one observes in performative practice. These issues cover the sweep of musical curriculum and instruction and each holds importance for our time. Our authors in this issue address important questions relating to these matters.
Mya Scarlata uses classroom vignettes and draws on Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for critiquing instrumental music education. Rather than a future-oriented approach that delays gratification until the performance, she argues for a present-centered approach that is grounded in play and relishes the “in between” border crossings that bring joy in the present moment and integrate musical experience with the rest of life. She offers the notion of aporia as a way of rethinking instrumental music education that has much in common with some elementary general music instruction. Instead of deferring happiness now in the hope of preparing flawless performances in the [End Page 1] future, she suggests that the experience of present joy enriches and enhances these performances.
Anita Prest and Scott Goble address issues of indigeneity that have for too long been ignored or overlooked in music education. Writing from a Canadian perspective, they seek a music education that is restorative for indigenous peoples who have suffered the impact of cultural colonization, marginalization, suppression, and erasure. For Prest and Goble, the loss of crucial aspects of indigenous culture is manifest musically and in discourse about music, especially on the part of people of European descent who can too easily misunderstand the ideas and practices they observe. They argue that well-meaning approaches to preserving indigenous culture may be misguided and language may distort the meanings native peoples hold regarding their musical beliefs and practices and its place in their wider culture. In their view, revitalizing indigenous musical culture offers a corrective to misguided music educational policies and embraces the full humanity of indigenous people.
Emily Good-Perkins posits a music education pedagogy that is culturally sustainable. Her humane and ecologically grounded approach to sustainability presumes that the self-same principles that apply in the preservation of the natural world also apply to the humans who live in it. In exploring the meaning of cultural sustainability, she offers a counterpoint to global, hegemonic, economic, and mediated forces that might disrupt, diminish, and even expunge cultural diversity and the myriad ways in which people express themselves musically around the world.
Juliet Hess interrogates the problem of storytelling as a means of making the case for social justice through music education and complicates the choices that music teachers need to make about their use of stories. Although musician educators have often appealed to stories as a persuasive medium through which to achieve social aims, Hess argues that storying is two-sided: it has benefits and detractions. She suggests that this reality should cause music educators pause in determining whether or how to use stories in music education practice.
Mengchen Lu and Leonard Tan offer a Daoist-inspired philosophy of music education that explores notions of nothingness and no action. In a time obsessed with action, driven by a desire for material results, in which every moment is consumed by something, they argue that focusing on its...