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Philosophical Perspectives on Music Education Essay

Music is one subject that is very rarely given attention in the academe. The most controversial issue that is attached to this is whether or not music should be taught in schools, or why music should be taught, for that matter. Contrary to what most people believe, music education is an imperative part of student growth (Davidson, 1932). This issue has resulted to the perceived need to change public opinion. Several “music advocacies” which come in many forms were established, seeking to change this mindset that people have about music education.

Most music advocacies are based on legitimate findings and scientific arguments, although many others rely on unconvincing and rather controversial data. It should be noted that students should be exposed to music so that they are able to communicate and understand their own feelings (Zbikowski, 2002). Arts, whether it be visual or audio allows us to have an insight to our emotional self and cultivates the growth of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. In colleges, music education is usually one of the densest subjects.

Although some schools and organizations encourage incorporation of arts in classes, such as music with other subjects such as Math, Science, or English, people still fail to see the importance of arts in the academics (Zbikowski, 2002). For many people, academic subjects should go beyond what is best for the students to learn. It should also incorporate things that will help students cultivate the need to learn. Music has taken the biggest cut on the academe—it has not been given importance as it should be.

In this paper, the philosophical perspectives of three authors will explain why music is among the most important subjects that should be taught in schools and why there is a need to do so. Charles Fowler Charles Fowler believes that through artistic representations such as music, people are able to share, at some point, a common humanity. In the same manner, life would be meaningless without shared expressions which make people understand one another. He also very firmly believes that Science is not the only conveyor of what we may consider true.

Science may be able to explain how flowers bloom or how humans are conceived, but it fails to convey its emotive meaning and impact, as the Arts does. He emphasizes that both are important, and that both should be given importance (Fowler, 1996). He considers Arts such as music as an act of intelligence and should be treated no less compared to other subjects as it is a form of thought that is every bit as important as science and mathematics when it comes to what these subjects convey.

Inasmuch as the pyramids of Egypt, the Statue of Liberty, and the Hanging Garden of Babylon can be mathematically or scientifically explained as to how they were built, a musical piece can also show people many other evenly important aspects of its existence. Arts allow us to create our own representation to concepts, ideas and feelings as perceived by people. In the same manner, music was created for us to be able to react to the world in the form of music, to record our impressions and to analyze things and share them with other people. Like science and mathematics, music needs to be studied before being fully understood (Fowler, 1996).

Because today’s schools are understood to be concerned as they should be to teaching literacy, it should be noted that literacy also includes understanding of music. This is because music allows us to fully express, represent, and communicate the full scale of human life, which is a pre-requisite to understanding the real essence of language, mathematics, science, economics, philosophy, and the list could go on and on. If one is asked, “What constitutes a good education? ” one is expected to hear an answer which would mention about a full knowledge about Sciences and Math.

True enough, this is very critical in a person’s life if he aims to have a place in the work force. Very few would also argue with that. However, this idea should not and never make us overlook how important music is and what it can do for the mind and spirit of people (Fowler, 1996). Fowler believes that school administrators, teachers, professors and educators should be reminded that one obligation that a school has for their students is to inspire them, in whatever way, and ignite their minds for them to be better individuals. Music often ignites that goal and serves as the fuel.

It is one way to apply one’s imaginations, thoughts and feelings. In relation to the reform movement of America which focuses on improving the quality of education by inspiring them, introducing self discipline, discovering the joys of learning, the uniqueness of one’s being, the possibilities and wonders of life and the achievement and satisfaction, Fowler believes that arts can be used to attain these goals (Henry, 1958). He also emphasizes that the world does not need better and more arts education simply because the world needs more artists.

He believes that there are far better reasons for schools to provide a healthy and in-depth education in Arts. Quite simply, this is one way people communicate with each other, although not generally verbally, but emotionally. Music is the language of the world which helps people express fear, anger, anxiety, curiosity, hunger, hopes, dreams and so on. Music is the universal language by which the world is able to express itself to its constituents; the world speaks through music. Music is not just important—Fowler believes that it is a center force of human existence.

Arts in school should never be isolated from any other subjects in the academe. It should be included in the framework of general education and should be part of the curriculum of all American schools, or all schools in the world for that matter. Arts should at all times be related to general education because it is essential in establishing a strong curriculum. Every person should then be given the opportunity to learn as much as they can about arts (Fowler, 1996).

Charles Leonhard Leonhard believes that although it is an easy task for educators to make their students love music, they should still consider finding ways to make music education more effective and enjoyable. He discussed that there is a raising concern for higher standards of music education. For instance, students nowadays are more informed about music, which is why educators should also adapt to this by teaching higher standards of musical literature and musical performances, and using better musical instruments that will best fit the taste of students and will thus inspire them to learn more about music.

By doing so, he stresses out that school administrators all over the world will be inspired to make music education as an equal part of the general education (Elliot, 1995). He was also concerned about music being part of everyone’s lives. As the motto of music educators has for years been “Music for every child and every child for music”, this applies that every child and youth should be taught to love music, regardless the degree of understanding or talent in music they have.

Just as this is important, he also believes that the music teaching should be on the same footing to that of the regular academic subjects and should be made functional, instead of treating it like a fad. Leonhard feels that now is the time to firmly establish music in the school curriculum, to gain increased acceptance of the idea that music should be an essential part of general education for everyone. Achievement of this ambition requires an expanded range of communication between music educators and all other educators, plus the interested public.

It is only by a wider sharing of ideas that changes can occur. To achieve this, a very sensible approach has been used. This approach is placing ideas about the values of music education in a broader context of ideas about education in general and of building relationships between the intellectual resources of music educators. This is surely advisable, even necessary. Nevertheless there are difficulties in this kind of operation. Estelle Jorgensen Estelle Jorgensen contested many philosophers who treated music as a “difficulty”, and who considered music not to be part of the general education.

Jorgensen sees the importance of having people be aware of the need to understand, appreciate and use music for one to apply it in his or her everyday life. The arts then have a potential contribution to the general education, as it has in general life. While school subjects often included music, arts were not always present. She believes that most people fail to see the importance of arts in the reality of life, and what difference it does to the world.

For instance, love in itself is art; the human body is an art; everything around us is an art, yet many fails to understand and realize this fact. In American schools where there is willingness on the part of the authorities to accord a reasonable amount of time to music, she believes that work in appreciation is sometimes undertaken. But to accomplish anything systematic and lasting, teachers would have to be content to attack the problem in a less spectacular manner than commonly maintains in our schools.

In view of the experience which precedes this work, the study of music appreciation in the high school should begin at the beginning and be satisfied to cover comparatively little ground. There are, moreover, three requisites without which any course of this kind would be practically worthless. First, the teacher must be a reasonably well-educated musician, possessing knowledge of the subject far more extensive than that required by his immediate work, and an acquaintance with other branches of education such as would enable him to draw parallels between music and other fields of learning.

He should have, too, a highly cultivated taste, and a faith in the capacity of youth to perceive and enjoy beauty without the aid of sugar-coated musical palliatives or sensational devices which are calculated to enhance interest, but which, in reality, distract attention from the music itself. And last, the illustrations should offer as nearly as possible a true presentation of the work under discussion. She believes that music should be thought in an ideal way for it to be appreciated (Rogers, 1998). Conclusion

Like other subjects in the curriculum of American schools, the arts provide an opportunity for children to realize certain talents and potentials. Particularly in their creative modes, the arts ask students to reach inside themselves to explore their own fascinations and perceptions and to give them suitable and precise representation. In the process of translating their inner discernments and revelations into a symbolic form, children discover and develop their capabilities and uncover some of their human possibilities.

Because they are so personal in what they require of each would-be artist, the arts can disclose important insights and impart crucial–and practical-habits of thought that are generally not taught as well through other subjects (Swanwick, 1996). Among the three philosophers, Charles Fowler had much to say about Arts being an essential part of a school’s curriculum. It is precisely because the creative act flows from the inside out rather than the outside in that it helps youngsters discover their own resources, develop their own attributes, and realize their own personal potential.

Education generally does not do this. That is, usually students are told, “Here is the way the world is,” rather than asked, “What do you think the world is or might be? ” Through the process of refining their own personal visions, students discover and develop their own intellectual resources. Because the arts ask students to determine their own abilities, they are self motivating. They propel and stimulate, fascinate and captivate because they engage students personally with their true inner selves, not some concept of self imposed from outside.

All human beings want to know what they can do. By having to draw on their own ideas, students discover and explore their own cognitive capacities (Swanwick, 1988). All three authors, Fowler, Leonhard and Jorgensen had similar views on music education. The three agreed that music should be treated as a vital part of student education. Just who is responsible for educating the next generation in the arts –the schools, other agencies, or a combination of both?

Each community is responsible for providing opportunities to its youth to ensure that they will be adequately educated in the arts. How those responsibilities are carried out differs from one community to the next. In those communities with few cultural resources, the schools must assume the primary responsibility. In urban and suburban communities that have access to museums, arts centers, and living artists of all kinds, the responsibility can and should be shared between the schools and the community.


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