Music in Education, edited by Willis Grant

October 1, 1965

Music in Education (Proceedings of the 14th Symposium of the Colston Research Society). Edited by Willis Grant. London: Butterworths, 1963. [xiv, 234 p., 8vo; $10.00]

Music in Education, the record of a symposium held at the University of Bristol, is a valuable collection of essays on the teaching of music from primary school through University levels. Although British music education is emphasized, the book contains papers on the training of music teachers and school music in Holland, Sweden, Italy, and the United States.

The papers and the discussions following them are of high quality and reflect an awareness of practical as well as aesthetic and philosophical goals of music teaching; the pseudo-psychological jargon which beclouds the writing of many American educationists is refreshingly absent. A particularly interesting trend in European musical education, as revealed in many essays, is the emphasis on "general music" for all children, with many practical suggestions for the realization of this ideal. Among the few limitations of Music in Education are: only passing mention of Carl Orff's work; the absence of essays from music educators in West Germany and Hungary, where music education is flourishing; and the failure to include at least one presentation from a non-European culture.

Space does not permit a description of the merits of each essay, but some points of interest to members of CMS should be mentioned. Westrup's "Music in a University" is a pragmatic defense of what we call the "Ivy League" approach and can be read with profit by all American teachers of college music. Among his excellent ideas are that music history should be studied from the music rather than by "industrious grubbing in books," that "insistence on standards has had the effect of raising the quality of the work done in schools," and that composition should not be an undergraduate study. He touches on a favorite be noir of American music departments when he points out that music kept in an institution's main library is like scientific apparatus kept half a mile from the laboratories.

In his study of teacher-training in Sweden, Bengt Franzén gives an excellent list of competencies expected of music teachers, and John Daniskas gives an equally fine outline of the five-year program for Dutch music teachers. NASM examiners would do well to read these essays. Massimo Bodianckino's essay on the shortcomings of conservatory training was praised during the discussion as "planting a very badly needed atom bomb with the precision of a rapier." Unfortunately, Thomas Canning devotes most of his paper on American music education to listing various state certification requirements, teacher-training curricula, and schedules of public school music teachers, with the result that his essay does not sufficiently describe the rationale or give a rounded picture of American music education.

Traditional concepts of teaching music appreciation receive searching examination: Lowery ("Music and Liberal Studies") deplores the passive approach "which usually degenerates into merely playing records" and proposes in its place "getting students to do something," citing his successful use of adult class piano, whereas Bodianckino criticizes the teaching of "forms rather than the history of music" and the "infantilism" which results from underestimating the intelligence and receptivity of the musically untutored student.

Music in Education is an excellent companion volume to Music in Our Schools, the report of the Yale Seminar on Music Education, and is replete with stimulating ideas which can be of profit at faculty meetings, professional conventions, and conferences with academic administrators. This book is recommended not only to music education specialists but also to music administrators, faculty members engaged in developing curricula for music education majors, and those interested in the purpose of music in higher education.

2338 Last modified on November 14, 2018