(p. 1) Oxford Handbook of Music Education Introduction to Volume 2
(p. 1) Oxford Handbook of Music Education Introduction to Volume 2
The Oxford Handbook of Music Education (OHME) has been designed to offer a comprehensive overview of the many facets of musical experience, behavior, and development in relation to educational or educative contexts, broadly conceived. These contexts may be formal (such as in schools and music studios), or informal (such as making music with friends and family), or somewhat incidental to another activity (such as traveling in a car, walking through a shopping mall, watching a television advert, or playing with a toy). Nevertheless, despite this contextual diversity, they are educational in the sense that our myriad sonic experiences accumulate from the earliest months of life to foster our facility for making sense of the sound worlds in which we live.
While recognizing that development occurs through many forms, formally and informally, the seven sections that comprise volume 2 of the OHME focus on issues and topics that help to broaden conceptions of music and musical involvement. Volume 2 opens with the important but too often neglected aspect of music education that involves that part of the population who have special abilities and special needs. As explained in Adam Ockelford's commentary for part I, there is an urgent need for quality research to address the serious shortcomings that currently impact on the area. Through research, according to Ockelford, we will be able to move beyond anecdotal accounts of success to more systematic approaches to music education that help us understand some of the pertinent issues that either promote or hinder learners who share particular characteristics. Through understanding these assets or deficiencies, music educators will also gain unique and powerful (p. 2) insights into what it means to be musical. And by developing sound pedagogical approaches that are tailored to take account of all learners, we will be able to move from making individual adaptations toward designing “universal” solutions.
The same theme underpins part II, where it is recognized that music is a shared, community experience, and that community music practice internationally is diverse and consistently evolving to meet the changing needs of the people it serves. This continual reinvention is an example of how musicians and music educators are continually reframing, adjusting, combining, integrating, and overlapping existing ways of engaging people to make music. It is also the essence of how various forms of music-making, musical sharing, and musical caring creates “community.”
As is evidenced in part III, the process of music education can be identified as being located somewhere on a lifelong continuum that embraces the interweaving of the informal with the formal, dependent in part on the degree of external agency and organization inherent in any given educational experience. An implication of this line of thinking is the need to encourage music educators to think in terms of a music learning society, where adult education is not peripheral to the priority of other age groups but is seen as an integral piece within a larger vision for the good of society. Such thinking will open many possibilities for ways music education for adults and youth may be intersecting and complementary, including intergenerational programs, programs that engage with distinctive dimensions of particular communities, programs that honor music legacies and traditions, and adult music education as an assumed piece of a lifelong music education paradigm. Implications that arise involve the training of future music educators, who should be encouraged to believe in the opportunities available within adult music education, as they develop attitudes and commitments that view adult music education as an integral dimension of all work within the field of music education.
Part IV reviews notions of musical creativity with the aim of examining practice-based perspectives for understanding the many different types of creativity that can be found internationally within music education practice. As Pamela Burnard explains, the section challenges conceptions of musical creativity that are focused on individual processes by advocating a much broader conception that shows how music educators can develop assessment structures and teaching practices that accommodate musical creativity as a social process in ways that can be profoundly meaningful for learners and extremely beneficial to their musical development.
The next two parts of the OHME cover the topics of music learning and teaching through technology (part v) and media, music, and education (part VI). Chapters in these two parts recognize how essential technology is or can be in musical discourse and various forms of musical learning. Both part editors—Evangelos Himonides and Matthew D. Thibeault—encourage readers to assess their own personal attitudes as they think about the transformative change that is occurring within the discipline as a result of new technology and rapid advances and changes in media. Such diversity of practice and opportunity provides hints of (p. 3) some of the many ways music education will evolve and grow with and through the use of technology and influence of the media in the future. The dynamic nature of this change is something all music educators should celebrate.
part VII comprises 25 commentaries from established scholars and music educators who were invited to provide a personal, critical insight on a topic or issue that they cared deeply about and they believed deserved to be aired within an international setting. Emergent themes provide insights for all music educators to consider and a framework for future action within the profession. Although there are many ways the content of this part could be organized, our reading suggests that each chapter relates to how the discipline of music education can achieve even greater political, theoretical, and professional strength.
As readers work through both volumes of the OHME they will come into contact with very recent thinking on a number of key issues that have emerged in the profession. We hope that they will be able to utilize the ideas presented to update and redefine their thinking and to sharpen their understanding of the ways that they can foster particular musical behaviors. In today's media-infused communities, technology provides instant access to different musical worlds, and so we are likely to encounter diverse musics in many different contexts. For this reason we hope that our readers will agree that the diversity and power of music education, wherever it occurs, whether within or without the formal world of nurseries, schools, colleges, individual music studios, or even over the internet, is something that deserves to be celebrated.
Gary E. McPherson and Graham F. Welch
Chief Editors, Oxford Handbook of Music Education (p. 4)