Music ed serves many purposes

I am drawn toward a pluralist perspective on the purpose, importance, and placement of music in our public and private lives. Music education sits at an intersection of interpretive and critical epistemologies. I understand music to be an opportunity that goes beyond the task of rudimentary mechanics of operating a manipulative (instrument); isolated, that is a mechanistic task. Music is a process-oriented experience, not to be solely defined by its measured outcome; in fact, in some cases, the outcome is irrelevant. Eisner (1991) asks whether or not everything can be measured, and suggests that researchers who are looking for a true measurement mistake the measurement for adequate subject matter; or, that the outcome is greater than the process. More than a half-century earlier, Dewey (1934) similarly stated that the artistic process, an esthetic experience, is itself a “mode of knowledge” (p. 302). Music, as one of the arts, is open to individual and collective interpretation, and qualifies as an interpretive approach to knowledge, one that is individual, collaborative, and with objects (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2011). Of course, in this example, objects can refer to instruments, beaters, and other music making devices.
Music education encompasses a powerful term of social justice: education. At this juncture at the intersection of multiple perspectives of knowledge, public education exists as a “construction and reconstruction by people within evolving power-laden environments” (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2011, p. 20). Education constantly dances through ideology, ideas, and values of a current power structure. As an educator, I see (music) education fitting within the framework of the critical strand of epistemology, especially the social justice-oriented strands of postmodernism. Legislation enacted to address the achievement gap between historically marginalized student constituents, especially African American, Latino, and students identified as requiring special education services, has been met with appropriate public intention but with mixed results. Arts, music, and instrumental music specifically have been under attack in California, especially since the implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision of 2001. Even though “the arts” are identified as a part of the core curriculum, the reduction or elimination of the courses is regularly identified as a result of the need to address NCLB-guided proficiency issues (Music For All Foundation, 2004).
The business of education, and the inclusion of music education, is messy. Music education can stand as the great equalizer of people, as suggested in Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) and Lisk’s (1987) theories of flow and peak experience.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 2005.
Eisner, E. (1991). The enlightened eye. New York: MacMillan.
Hesse-Biber, S., & Leavy, P. (2011). The practice of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Lisk, E. (1987). The creative director: alternative rehearsal techniques. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications.
Music For All Foundation. (2004). The Sound of Silence: The Unprecedented Decline of Music Education in California Public Schools. Retrieved from


About mundyviar

Basil Mundy Viar, III, is a newly relocated music teacher in the Palm Springs Unified School District of California, USA. For the past 18 years, he served the students and families within the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. In this role, he discovered the need for a reevaluation of the roles, purposes, and directions of scholastic music in a changing community and in a changing economy. The direction of his doctoral work was largely influenced by this experience. He researches the attitudes, levels of satisfaction, and lifelong learning effects of music training both inside and outside of the traditional school experience, with an eye on the roles that community based organizations may play in this. Prior to his assignment as a public school music teacher, Dr. Viar served as a Program Director for the Blue Devils, an internationally revered youth organization dedicated to performance excellence, also based in Concord, California, USA. During his time with the Blue Devils, the "B" Corps was reinvigorated and performed with renewed excitement, proficiency, and levels of success. Under Dr. Viar's guidance, BDB performed in the 1997 Drum Corps International World Championships in Orlando, Florida, and the 1998 World Marching Band Festival in Kanagawa Prefecture Japan. Basil Mundy Viar, III, is a graduate of the Transformative Inquiry Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies (PhD) in San Francisco, California, USA. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of California, Berkeley; Single Subject Teaching Credential from the Bay Area College of Chapman University in Orange, California; and a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Community and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University of Richmond, Virginia, USA.
This entry was posted in arts administration, Arts Education, education, Music Education, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s