Music, the Self, and Education in the “Looking Glass”:  Making the Case for a Social Theory of Music Education from the Ground Up 

Dr Hildegard Froehlich, Professor emeritus, College of Music, University of North Texas, Denton Texas, USA

Thursday 18th April, 2013

12.45-1.45

Room 944

Further details from Lucy Green, l.green2@ioe.ac.uk

 

All are welcome!

 

Internationally, nationally, and—certainly in the United States— regionally, music education is a field of diverse occupational practices, conventions, speciality areas, work settings, and corresponding expectations for professional conduct and values. School music is but one of those many conventions, informed in a variety of ways by prevailing social, educational, musical, and cultural norms. To provide music educators anywhere with a common bond and purpose that spans across norms, work settings and geographic locales, a rationale, a raison d’être, for the profession at large would serve the purpose of articulating what in the medical profession is known as the Hippocratic Oath. It is a commitment to “doing no harm” amidst the myriad of medical decisions a physician has to make daily; whether as a highly specialized surgeon, internist, researcher, or generalist. In a diversity of practices, the oath remains the same for everyone.

 

My lecture-discussion proposes a similarly guiding principle for music education derived from the theory of social interactionism. Central to the theory is the metaphor of “looking glass self,” a term coined by the American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley more than 100 years ago. The metaphor stands for the idea that self-image and identity are constructed in an individual’s interaction with the world as represented by the groups of individuals with whom she comes into contact. The interpretation of the world at large reflects the experiences with those individual interactions.

 

Social interactionism explains and accounts for any divergent aesthetic and social practices, conducts, and values among social and reference groups, private and public special interest groups, and communities of practice. It explains diversity but also finds commonalities in differences, thereby providing the theoretical basis for  music educators anywhere to share and subscribe to one guiding code: To affirm and make possible music learning as a right for all human beings of all races and ages, at all levels and forms of education. Consequences for political action and appropriate pedagogies are outlined and discussed.

 

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Hildegard Froehlich, Professor emeritus, College of Music, University of North Texas, continues to be professionally active as author, consultant, teacher, and speaker on issues concerning the application of sociological constructs to the learning and teaching of music at the collegiate level. Her latest books are Sociology for Music Teachers. Perspectives for Practice (Pearson Prentice-Hall 2007) and (with C. Frierson-Campbell) Inquiry in Music Education. Concepts and Methods for the Beginning Researcher (Routledge 2013).  She has been the keynote speaker at international and national conferences in music education and has served as president of the Research Alliance of Institutions for Music Education, an international organization whose members join by invitation.  She continues to be active musically in her community by singing with the Denton Bach Chorus of the Denton Bach Society (an organization she co-founded in 1976). She also loves to dance (be it Ballroom, Swing, or Country & Western).

 

 

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