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ABSTRACT. The article deals with the problem of the disciplinary identification of the
philosophy of music education. It explores alternative approaches to the philosophy of
music education and its relation to musical pedagogy. On the basis of this analysis an
account of the philosophy of music education as a philosophical discipline is suggested
and its specific function identified.
KEY WORDS: analytical approach, disciplinary identification, musical pedagogy, philosophy of music education, second-order reflection, substantial approach

The second half of the 20th century was marked in music education by a
tendency to supply philosophical foundations to this area of studies and
teaching. In their efforts to enhance the role of music in the schools and to
secure its place in the curriculum on the one hand, and to provide theoretical grounding for music teaching on the other hand, music educators
turned to a philosophical investigation of the nature and essence of music
education, its underlying premises, principles and concepts. This process
took different forms in various countries. In North America it resulted in
the emergence of a special sphere of study called philosophy of music
education which assumed the task of providing a philosophical aesthetic
basis for music education. There is much evidence that within the last
few years it has been institutionalized and recognized as a scholarly and
curriculum discipline. The following facts speak for this: Since 1990,
international symposia in the philosophy of music education have been
held on a regular basis, and in 1993 the Philosophy of Music Education
Review was launched while the Special Research Interest Group as a part
of Music Educators National Conference (MENC) was established. Many
colleges and universities are currently offering courses in philosophy of
music education.
Despite these achievements, the disciplinary status of philosophy of
music education remains vague and its position insecure. It lacks a clear
statement of its subject, purpose, agenda, boundaries and relationship
Studies in Philosophy and Education 21: 229252, 2002.
2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.



to the variety of disciplines such as musical pedagogy, aesthetics and

aesthetics of music, musicology, sociology of music, etc. The ambiguity
of music education philosophys position is partly due to its young age
a self-consciousness of every discipline grows within the process of its
crystallization. Nevertheless, taking into account the rapid development of
philosophy of music education in the last decades, I believe that the time
has come to reflect upon the nature and function of this discipline and
is relations to neighbouring fields, primarily to music educational theory
and practice. Definite answers to these questions if at all possible are
beyond the possibility of any single article. The modest purpose of this
paper is to offer a possible approach to the most existential problems of
the discipline indicated in the title of the article, with no illusion of finding
the single correct decision but with the hope of adequately grasping the
inherent logic of the disciplines evolution.
Two preliminary remarks are to be made at the outset in order to clarify
the discussion of the opening section. The first one is that under philosophy of music education is meant a scholarly and curriculum discipline,
a special field of study as it was shaped in the North America in second
half of the 20th century. The second is my suggestion that the proper
understanding of the nature, constitution and specific character of the
philosophy of music education may be achieved from the perspective of the
historical development of general educational philosophy. The relevance
of such an approach has its reasons. The circumstances of the twentiethcentury origin of the philosophy of music education demonstrate that it
appeared under the direct influence of educational philosophy, which stood
as a model for the authors of the first music education philosophies. To
paraphrase Bennett Reimer, the fortunes of philosophy of music education
are precisely parallel with the curve of philosophy of education as a whole
but at an interval of an inch or two below (Reimer, 1989, p. 216).
Philosophy of education is in a certain sense a crisis discipline. It was
called into existence by the political social tensions which gave impetus
to the rise of interest in educational issues. Educational institutions and
policies (and progressive education as a cause clbre) were declared the
source of all troubles and at the same time were given the responsibility of
overcoming the negative tendencies at all levels and in all spheres of social
life. This demand imposed the need to rethink the fundamental premises
of the whole educational enterprise. So philosophy of education was put to
As to philosophy of music education, it appeared in the course of
endorsement of this general movement into the domain of art education,
and it derived from educational philosophy the very idea of the discipline,



the ways of its interpretation and conceptualization. Within the context of

philosophy of music education, the crisis character of educational philosophy acquired an additional aspect, a kind of subjects inner crisis. From
the very beginning, this last discipline was not only asked to investigate
the fundamental principles of music education (as philosophy of education
had to do in respect of the basic subjects) but it had to take pains to justify
and defend its very presence in general curricula. This resulted in what was
called an advocacy function of music education philosophy.
The genetic dependence upon philosophy of education had a number
of important consequences for the fate of the discipline. The most dramatic
one is that it has inherited the ambiguity of the disciplines identity
status. Philosophy of music education in its modern appearance is a field
with a body of dependable literature, institutions and periodicals, and a
community of scholars engaged in its development. But it is uncertain
about its content, methodologies, subject and unique function, or, in other
words, about a host of issues that build the propaedeutics of every discipline. Moreover, it faces the problem of its very legitimacy. There are no
unanimous answers to such questions as: Is a philosophy of music education necessary, or to put another question in Schellings terms: How is
philosophy of music education possible? The consideration below of the
alternative conceptions of philosophy of music education that have been
crystallized in the short history of the discipline will provide a basis for
highlighting one of the ways to approach them.


The writings in the philosophy of music education demonstrate two basic
ways to approach the discipline.1 One of them is the substantive (or
essentialist) propositional approach. The predicate substantive, as it is
employed here, refers to the tendency to make generalised statements
about music education based on the essentialist theories which purport to
offer a clarification of the nature and value of music. The term propositional designates the method of producing such statements that has been
developed within the discipline of philosophy of education. It implies
that philosophical propositions give rise to (music) educational philosophy which borrows them and interprets their implications for (music)
1 The selection of works in philosophy of music education considered in the article is

limited to that which were accessible but I assume that they are sufficiently representative
to provide a basis for generalized conclusions.



education. From the point of view of the proponents of this approach,

philosophy of music education is a body of knowledge, or a set of beliefs
(which does not mean, however, that they deny the process dimension
of philosophy). The emphasis is placed upon the philosophical activity of
theory-building, which in every case results, by necessity, in a systematic unified theory. The earliest variant of this method (in philosophy of
education as well as in philosophy of music education) is to apply one of
the philosophical positions such as idealism, realism, pragmatism, etc. to
questions of (music) education. (This is why it is often referred to as isms
or systems approach.) Ample examples of this position can be found
in Basic Concepts in Music Education (1958), where the first attempt to
bring a philosophical ferment to music education was undertaken. I mean
the articles Pragmatism in Music Education by Foster McMurray and A
Realistic Philosophy of Music Education by Harry Broudy. Both scholars,
prominent educational philosophers, undertook an attempt to derive a
viable theory for music education from a given philosophical position. In
doing so, they exposed the foundational theses of a concrete philosophical system and tried to deduce answers from them to some problems of
music educational theory and practice. In their approach to philosophy
of music education H. Broudy and F. McMurray tended to embrace all
subdivisions of philosophy. Setting the agenda for the philosophy of music
education, Broudy argued that its content revolved around the concept of
musical experience, specifically the problem of the nature and structure of
musical experience, its relations to other types of experience, the question
of whether musical experience could be taught, as well as exploration
of educational ends and of standards for musical judgment (Broudy, 1958,
p. 68). Such a view of music education philosophys thematic spectrum
led him to conclude that philosophy in general is indispensable because it
produces principles and standards that serve music educators as guidance.
As he put it, to describe the role of musical experience is, in part at least,
a problem in aesthetics; to define the role of musical experience in life
as a whole is a problem of ethics and value theory; to test the relation of
music to cosmic and human nature is a problem of metaphysics, and the
entire discussion should be respectful of the rules of logic (Broudy, 1958,
p. 63). (It is worth noting that Broudy was the first to include aesthetics
into the content of philosophy of education.)
Without going into detailed analysis of the conceptions in question, I
want to draw attention to the difficulties that this method entails. One of
them concerns the claim for unity of the deduced theory, the other closely
related to the first one is brought about by the assumption that philosophical systems contain implications for (music) education. In my view,



both of them are inadequate because of the manifold content of every given
philosophical position and disagreement between the philosophers themselves. F. McMurray, for example, realizing that philosophical theories are
far from being homogeneous, warned music educators against falling into
discussions of background disciplines, including philosophy, while still
advising them to concentrate upon building a unified perspective about
whys and hows of music education (McMurray, 1958, p. 36). Needless to
say, he voted for a pragmatic one. The pragmatisms version he presented
in his article purported to give a picture of the typically pragmatic ideas
as they were formulated mainly by Peirce. Drawing on the pragmatists
conceptions of learning as growth and of the function of knowledge as
a guidance for action, he formulated the universal aim of music education, which stressed the importance of passing on to new generations
the more refined portions of our musical culture. One of the tasks of
the music teacher he saw in removing popular prejudices and negative
biases against serious music (ibid., pp. 4243). These prescriptions were
corollaries of McMurrays conviction that only subtle portions of musical
culture, accessible through special training, need to be learned at school.
This part of McMurrays definition of the aims of music education stands in sharp contrast to the views of Richard Shusterman. In
his work Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art, Richard
Shusterman defended the legitimacy and aesthetic dignity of popular
culture (Shusterman, 1992). Taking off from Deweys thesis of continuity
between aesthetic experience and ordinary experience and his repudiation of the opposition of high versus popular art, Shusterman argues
that popular art has those formal qualities thought to distinguish high
art as aesthetic: unity and complexity, intertextuality and open-textured
polysemy, experimentation and foregrounded attention to medium, and he
gives rap music as example (ibid., p. 200). Although educational aspects
play only a peripheral role in Shustermans inquiry, it follows from his
discussion that popular art is worthy of teaching and must be included in
education, at least on an equal footing with high art because it requires
as well adequate training to appreciate it. The failure to appreciate artistic
values, philosophical depth and the socio-political appeal of this kind of
music is exactly due to the lack of proper training, since the traditional
system of aesthetic education was always concentrated upon preserving
and transmitting the classical heritage while totally neglecting popular art.
The other significant point is Shustermans emphasis upon the experiential, dynamical dimension of art as opposed to a static one embodied
in the concept of a work of art. This is again incompatible with
McMurrays requirement to confine the experience of music in the music



educational process to the acquaintance with a body of literature. The

discrepancy between the two pragmatist approaches can be understood by
comparing their underlying premises. As a strong advocate of Deweyan
line of aesthetics, Shusterman privileges aesthetic process over product
(without underestimating the importance of aesthetic objects). As he put
it, experience (rather than collecting or criticism) is ultimately what art
is about (ibid., p. 57). McMurray, on the other hand, exhibited primarily
epistemic concern for meaning, truth and value, the latter construed from
the point of view of a cognitive (as opposed to emotive) theory of
value, meaning a theory which asserts that value judgments are a kind of
knowledge. Consequently, the educational process is for him chiefly a
matter of acquiring knowledge about a stable characteristic of our world
which enables us to control our relationship to the world (McMurray, 1958,
pp. 3334). Extrapolating from this assumption, McMurray argued that the
content of music as a curriculum subject is a body of literature which has
been accumulated in and about music for many centuries and he assigned
an important role to the acquaintance with this literature. McMurrays line
of reasoning can be reconstructed in the following manner: a body of literature in and about music is itself a part of the world that should be studied
at school because the knowledge of it can expand ones capacity to use
intelligence in the pursuit of a good life. He held that a purely cognitive
outcome for example, the familiarity with the fact that Beethovens late
quartets belong to the best of musical compositions is central to the music
educational process (ibid., pp. 4344).
The divergence between McMurrays musical work-oriented and
Shustermans experiential accounts makes it clear how radically various
samples of a pragmatist curriculum may differ in their content and value
orientations. In fact, there is no single philosophy of music education that
can be derived from a given philosophical position. First, every philosophical system is represented by more than one theory of different thinkers
who share some common philosophical presuppositions. Second, the widespread view of philosophical systems containing implications for (music)
education is misleading as a starting point for the philosophy of (music)
education. Different philosophies were not designed with (music) education in view; the perspective of the (music) education philosopher and his
interpretation of the philosophical postulates always play a crucial role in
the theory-building in the philosophy of (music) education.




Conceptions of music education that followed the appearance of Basic
Concepts demonstrated a variation of the substantive approach. In these
theories their connection to philosophy was confined to its part which
immediately deals with issues of art in general and with the art of music
in particular. It emerged in Foundations and Principles of Music Education of Charles Leonhard and Robert House (1959), intended as a manual
for music education students where the theory of music education as
aesthetic education first surfaced. After a decade this theory found its ultimate shape in Bennett Reimers A Philosophy of Music Education, which
enjoyed lasting success, and the theory itself became the official music
education philosophy in North America for about three decades (Reimer,
1970, 1989). Reimers book is also notable in its effort to identify music
education philosophy as a distinct field.
Two principle characteristics distinguish the approach to philosophy
of music education represented by the above mentioned scholars from
the McMurray/Broudy position. First, philosophy of music education was
declared to draw upon aesthetics and aesthetics of music. Reimer defined
the discipline as a systematic statement of music educations nature and
value, provided that these are determined by the nature and value of
music as an art form. According to this basic premise, Reimer placed the
emphasis on the aesthetic analysis of musical phenomena and concepts
and application of its outcomes to music education while dismissing the
other parts of philosophy. So conceived, philosophy of music education
became a kind of applied aesthetics and aesthetics of music. Reimer thus
stressed a single dimension and function of music the aesthetic one,
which he believed to be its most unique and representative characteristic.
As it concerns the other dimensions of music and the art in general
anthropological, socio-economical, etc., as well as the investigation into
the nature of the second participant of the music educational process, that
of person or subject, the author, while acknowledging their importance,
alluded to their marginal significance as compared with the aesthetic aspect
of art. It is not astonishing, therefore, that Reimers conception was criticised for being not a philosophical study of the principles and practices
of music education nor even those of music itself, but rather meant to be
a philosophy of music appreciation (Fellman, 1980, p. 39).
The emphasis on aesthetics created a problem concerning Bennett
Reimers definition of the philosophy of music education. His definition is
particular by its character: it does not cover all potentially possible philosophies and calls for reformulation and/or extension in every case when



the examination of the so called extra-aesthetic aspects and functions of

music is decided to be constitutive for philosophy of music education, or,
in other words, if aesthetic value is not regarded as sufficient to justify our
involvement with music. For example, Richard Colwell argued in one of
his articles that a viable philosophy of music education ought to rest upon
an adequate political theory, thus giving priority to a dimension of music
and music education that goes beyond the scope of aesthetics (Colwell,
1987). It is obvious that such a methodological platform would presuppose
another method than proposed by Reimer procedure of clarification of
aesthetic categories and their subsequent interpretation in the context of
music educational problems.
As well, Reimer abandoned the method of formulating a single unified
theory while giving preference to a synthetic one. He argued that since
no single aesthetician can supply a sufficient breadth of conceptions, it is
necessary to identify an aesthetic position which includes major thinkers
(Reimer, 1989, p. 15). His own philosophy was built upon an eclectic
construct that has grown out of the ideas of John Dewey, Susanne Langer,
Leonard Meyer, and Max Schoen. One of its basic planks is Leonard
Meyers theory of musical meaning. According to Meyer, there exist two
rival ways in which musical meaning can be conceived of. The proponents
of the first one (he calls them absolutists) maintain that musical meaning
is intramusical, it lies exclusively inside the musical composition itself.
Contrariwise, the adherents of referentialism believe that the meaning of
musical works is related to, and convey meanings which refer to, extramusical phenomena. In addition, Meyer draws a distinction between two
absolutist positions formalism and expressionism, both holding that
musical meaning is essentially intramusical but differing in that the formalists take it to be intellectual whereas for the expressionists it is emotional.
Absolute expressionism is thus a more inclusive version of aesthetic
absolutism which legitimizes expressive qualities in music: music raises
expressive emotional meanings in listener and these exist without reference to the extra-musical world of concepts, actions, and human emotional
states (Meyer, 1956, p. 3).
Making use of Meyers label of absolute expressionism, Bennett
Reimer reinterpreted it. In his account, absolute expressionist holds with
the formalist that meaning and value of music is intrinsic and he shares
with the referentialist his belief that nonartistic references may be of a
great importance but and here they disagree these references are always
transformed and transcended by the internal artistic form (Reimer, 1989,
p. 27). So conceived, absolute expressionism claimed to reconcile the
extremes of the aesthetic formalism and referentialism, but in effect this



theory as well as its offspring, the theory of music education as aesthetic

education, proved to be vulnerable on both sides. The combination of
Meyers account with ideas of Langer is the other factor responsible for
the inconsistency of this last theory. In what follows I am going to show
that Reimer fails to provide a kind of definition of music educational aims
which is supposed to be absolute expressionistic by its nature and to
reconcile the formalist and referentialist approaches. Instead, he offers two
definitions, one referentialist and the other formalist.
Reimers central argument against referentialist definition of the aims of
music education was the extra-musical nature of the aims suggested by this
definition. As he justly noticed, music was used by the proponents of this
approach for educating a better citizen, a better worker or a better human
being all that could be more effectively achieved by other means and
outside of musics proper predestination. Regarding musical formalists,
Reimer accused them of isolating the formal elements of art works and
studying them for their own sake (ibid., p. 25).
Let us now consider Reimers own conception of aims of music education. In his book he gives a number of definitions that are variations of the
following one: music education is the education of human feeling through
the development of responsiveness to the intrinsically expressive qualities
of sound (ibid., p. 53). Our task as philosophers is to examine whether
the basic shortcomings of the referentialist and formalist approaches are
overcome in this definition.
As we have seen, Reimers major objection to the referentialist conception of music educations aims is their so-called extramusicality, which
he believed he had removed. Reimers line of thought can be put as
a kind of syllogism: musics intrinsic and unique nature consists in its
isomorphism to the structure of the humans subjectivity, or to patterns
of humans feeling; hence, music can educate feelings, and this task is its
most proper and genuine function. The idea of the analogy between music
and feeling was borrowed from Susanne Langers account of music as
analogous of the emotive life, but it has precedents. It was first articulated
by the Pythagoreans (if we can rely on the historical evidence) (Tatarkiewicz, 1970, pp. 8182). The Pythagoreans asserted that the motion of
sounds in music is akin to the motion of the feelings in the soul of man, and
herein lies the secret of musics educational power: music affects the soul
as its like and thereby educates the character. This idea, called an axiom
of the antique theory of ethos (A. Losev), became in turn a cornerstone
of the Greek Paideia. From the point of view of the Meyer/Reimer classification, it is typical of a referentialist approach, for music is used to arrive
at nonmusical goal education of character. But I really see no difference



between this kind of the aim and that proposed by Reimer himself when he
speaks of music education as a means of self-understanding and of enrichment of the quality of peoples lives through enriching their experiences of
feelings. The referentialist nature of these aims is already predisposed by
the very principle of analogy because setting forth the analogy with other
dimensions of being, whatever their nature, we inevitably step outside
the realm of the intra-musical or pure musical. A logical consummation
of Pythagoreans (and later Platos) conception was the further analogy
between the human and world souls that pointed to the ultimate end of all
educational efforts. The principle of analogy perfectly fitted the ancient
idea of art as the immanent part of the sounded cosmos and, at the same
time, tightly embedded in the life of the polis. But if the analogy is to be
used to reach an opposite goal, namely to discover the unique nature and
value of music itself, nothing is left to us but to produce weighty evidence
that the feeling(fulness) is exactly this unique and most representative
property of music. These proofs we do not have. All we learned about
the relation of sound to feeling is that we do not have a complete answer
to this question and we may never have it (Reimer, 1989, pp. 130131).
As it has been noted, Reimer criticized the formalists, on the other
hand, for having broken contact with the socio-cultural context in which
the aesthetic experience occurs and having focused on the formal musical
properties. This is exactly what one should have in mind while conceiving
of music education as primarily music education, that is, education for
the essentially aesthetic or musical qualities and values of music as an art
and declaring the development, to the fullest extent possible, of every
students aesthetic sensitivity to the art of music to be its major goal as
Reimer does (ibid., pp. 122, 153).
Obviously Reimer believes that the above definition overcomes the
sterility and narrowness of the formalist approach in that it resolves
the continuity between aesthetics and the entire realm of human experience while retaining formalisms positive contribution its claim for the
intrinsicality of arts nature and value. However, it is my contention that
Reimers definition falls short of doing this. The examination of the relations between his formalist and referentialist definitions can help to
support my suggestion.
One might anticipate an objection on Reimers part that it is incorrect
to contrast the definitions in question the way I do, i.e. to treat them
as commensurable. The arguments I can think of would be that I am
confusing a philosophical explanation of aims in music education with a
curriculum definition which have different functions per definitionem.
I would agree that the educational aims could and should be formulated



at different interconnected levels of specificity. However, I would disagree

that his definitoins stand to each other as a more general philosophic to a
more specific empirical and that they make up an integral coherent structure. To justify my position I have to reconstruct Reimers methodology
and I will start with the clarification of the concepts.
Bennett Reimer uses throughout his book following terms to designate music educational aims: function, aim (used interchangeably with
goal) and objective. If we consult the Oxford English Dictionary, we
will find out that the terms aim, goal and objective refer to something that a person is trying to achieve and can be used as synonyms.
The meaning of the term function is a special activity or purpose of
a person or thing. Though Reimer does not explicate the methodological
principles of his taxonomy of aims, his usage of the above terms allows
for the conclusion that each of them correlates with a definite level of
specificity. The term function seems to be reserved for the philosophical
definition of the aims of music education. It is employed in the first part of
Reimers book where the author lays out the philosophical foundations of
his theory. Reimer presents a few ways of stating the major function of
music education. The first one I discussed on the pages 910 and I rehearse
it here: the main function of music education is education of human
feeling through the development of responsiveness to the intrinsically
expressive qualities of sound (Reimer, 1989, p. 53). The second definition
says that the major function of education in the arts is to promote the
fullest possible sharing of the conditions of human subjectivity as they are
embodied in the artistic qualities of things (ibid., 69). According to the
third, the primary function of aesthetic education is to help people share the
meanings which come from expressive forms (ibid., 95) where the latter
means the natural mode of articulating subjectivity, bringing it into the
realm of knowing (ibid., 92). Finally, he formulates his idea in terms of
aesthetic experience: As has been suggested, the goal of aesthetic education is to improve the ability of all people to have aesthetic experiences;
that is, to heighten all peoples aesthetic sensitivity (ibid., 116).
I have no problem in considering the first three definitions as different
expressions of the thesis that the development of aesthetic sensitivity
enables education of feeling. But I have objections to the fourth statement
because of the difficulties Reimers concept of aesthetic experience entails.
Since I cannot go into this question here, and since it is not important for
my present purposes, I shall simply observe that the term function is here
replaced by the term goal.
I move on now to the concepts of goal and aim which correspond
to the second level of specificity and I shall call it curriculum level.



Reimer deals with this level (alongside the third one) in the second part
of his book designed to present his philosophy in action. In light of the
philosophy offered in this book, Reimer writes, the overall goal or aim of
the general music curriculum is to develop, to the fullest extent possible,
every students capacity to experience and create intrinsically expressive
qualities of sounds. Another term for this capacity, which every student
has to some degree, is aesthetic sensitivity. Another term for intrinsically
expressive qualities of sound is music. So the goal or aim of general music
can also be stated as the development, to the fullest extent possible, of
every students aesthetic sensitivity to the art of music (ibid., 153).
Reimer argues, reasonably enough, that as a philosophy requires a
curriculum to give it flesh and bones, the goal suggested by the philosophy
requires explicit objectives to give it specificity (ibid., 167). Thus, he
introduces the term objective as a name for the third level of specificity
which provides an operational description how the curriculum goal
is to be achieved. These learning objectives include seven basic modes
of interaction with music: perceiving, creating, conceptualising, reacting,
analysing, valuing, evaluating.
To recapitulate, Reimer identifies three levels of specificity of aims in
music education: philosophical (function) and two empirical one more
general (curriculum goal) and the other operational (specific objectives). They are thought to stand to each other as the terminal goal (first
level) to enabling (second and third levels) goals which, taken together,
form a hierarchical structure: the education of feeling can be achieved
through the development of aesthetic sensitivity and the latter presupposes
the development of a number of behaviors, or operational skills. There
is no doubt that the major function of music education (level one) is
supposed by the author to guide the curriculum goal (level two) which
in its turn guides the specific objections (level three).
I admit that the relationship between the curriculum goal and
specific objections is plausible enough and raises no questions. But I am
going to take issue with the logical links between the philosophical and
empirical levels of specificity. To begin with, Reimer offers no explanation for using the term function in his philosophical definition of music
educational aims. Most probably he was simply looking for a synonym for
goal to avoid repetition and it does not mean anything else than aim or
goal. Whatever the case, the term is telling in that it betrays the real status
of this definition: it underlines its instrumental character while pointing to
the special purpose of music education. Let me explain. In Reimers own
view, philosophy of music education has the responsibility of elucidating
the values of music for human life and establishing that these values are



first, unique and, second, that they are fundamental to any notion of the
good life (ibid., 89). If he had followed this very sound recommendation, he would have focused upon the investigating of musics impact on
peoples emotional development and provided strong arguments in support
of his claim that music can have positive effect on human subjectivity. But
he went beyond this task and gave a remarkably normative-prescriptive
definition at the level of the philosophy instead of showing the direction
in which one ought to be aiming. As a result, Reimers philosophical
definition fell short of accomplishing its proper function.
But Reimer faces a more serious problem which is less easily to
overcome. As it should be clear from the foregoing, he emphasized the
intimate connection between philosophical and curriculum goals of music
education. Unfortunately, he has not satisfactorily demonstrated that the
premises in which this connection is grounding, are correct. Reimers argument in outline is as follows: music education is education of feeling and
it can be achieved through the development of the aesthetic sensitivity to
the intrinsic qualities of musical sounds because these qualities present the
logical form of feeling. The connection between the philosophical and
empirical goals of music education is thus based on the assumption that
intrinsic qualities of a musical work incorporate, or embody the qualities
of human experience, so that when one shares the expressive qualities
contained in a works artistic content, one is also sharing in the qualities
of which all human experience is made (ibid., 51). Reimer devotes most
of his book to supporting this statement but he does not shed light on the
question of how aesthetic qualities can incorporate referential meanings
while retaining their intrinsicality. His remark that references are always
transformed and transcended by the internal artistic form (ibid., 27), is
not illuminating, since the author does not explain the mechanism of such
a transformation. But granted it is correct that the extra-aesthetic meanings
dissolve in the purely aesthetic qualities, how is it then possible that they
can really affect a human organism?
The lack of logical links between the philosophical and curriculum
goals of music education made the latter independent of all philosophical
underpinnings and turned it alongside the curriculum in general into a
formalistic par excellence.2 His position turned out to be in effect not a
kind of symbiosis or third quality but could be proper called enhanced
2 Cf. Michael Mark (1982, pp. 1819): Where earlier writers had sought to link the
two philosophies (educational philosophy and philosophy of music E. P.) in order to
indicate how aesthetic development led to societal fulfillment, the philosophy of aesthetic
education (of B. Reimer, Ch. Leonhard, A. Britton E. P.) concentrated only on aesthetics,
breaking the link with societal needs.



formalism or reduced referentialism (Bowman, 1991; Alperson, 1991).

Reimers formalistic philosophy in action put forward in the second part
of his A Philosophy of Music Education was developed with clarity and
consistency and was widely accepted in American schools. I maintain that
it is because of its formalistic emphasis that Reimers theory had such an
immense influence upon the profession. The appeal of his theory to music
educators is better to understand against the historical background. It is
a well-known fact that up to the 1950s music education in America was
dominated by extra-aesthetic factors. Music was thought to be worth of
learning at school because of its contribution to an array of nonmusical
purposes of a religious, social, and scientific sort. In opposition to this practice, Reimer proclaimed unambiguously that music education should not
be guided by extra-aesthetic considerations and he developed a curriculum
which freed music as a curriculum subject from its extrinsic practical
duties. I believe that there are good reasons to consider the formalistic
turn engendered by Reimers book (alongside the contribution of H.
Broudy, Ch. Leonhard and R. House) as a positive one. The problem is
that it was not (or not all) what Reimer was aiming at, not to mention the
circumstance that it runs counter the philosophical rationales for music
curriculum he advocated.
The above considerations lead to the conclusion that the definition of
the aims of music education formulated by Reimer on the basis of the
synthetic theory synthesized the shortcomings of its constituents without
solving the problem of reconciliation of diverse aesthetic approaches and
to offering an all-embraced perspective for music education philosophy. (I
am not aiming however to totally dismiss the approach to derive a philosophy of music education from the synthesis of divergent positions, but only
to call attention to the dangers it entails.)
An unavoidable consequence of the substantive approach is a search
and a struggle for the only true philosophy of music education which
in turn is undergirded by the theory that claims to express the intrinsic
and the most unique nature of music as art. So, as one could expect,
Bennett Reimers theory in the 1990s was challenged by a conception of a
praxial philosophy of music education. Its spokesmen, Philip Alperson and
David Elliott, are at pains to reveal the weaknesses of the theory of music
education as aesthetic education while accentuating the advantages of their
approach presented in Elliotts systematic research Music Matters: A New
Philosophy of Music Education. Much like his major opponent, Elliott
declared that music education philosophy is a critically reasoned concept
of the nature and significance of music education as determined by the
nature and value of music but and this makes the whole difference the



range of inquiry extends beyond aesthetics and stresses the sociocultural

significance of music. Music is construed as a particular form of action,
having meanings and values in actual music making and music listening in
specific cultural contexts (Elliott, 1995; Alperson, 1997). I shall return to
Elliotts book later.
A totally different approach to philosophy of music education is located in
the tradition of analytical philosophy. It was first articulated by Wayne
Bowman, who counseled an abandonment of the concept of this discipline as an objectively constituted body of doctrine with the primary
goal of advocating music education. Rejecting the notion of philosophy
of music education as a set of immutable truths, Bowman defined it as
a process of philosophizing, a systematic examination of the grounds
for belief and action (Bowman, 1992, p. 3). The traditional and analytical approaches can be contrasted on the basis of Bowmans criticism by
means of such oppositions as normative/interpretative vs. descriptive, evaluative vs. explorative, unitary vs. pluralistic, reproductive vs. productive,
analytic vs. synthetic, etc. To stress music education philosophys commitment to disciplined deliberation and reflective inquiry, Bowman drew
a parallel to musical criticism conceived in the wider sense than strictly
aesthetic criticism. Pointing to the methodological similarities between
these fields, he argued that philosophy stands to belief as criticism stands
to music (ibid., p. 9). In his view, image perceptual fluency cultivated
by criticism and the ability to think critically (which by way of analogy I
shall call rational conceptual fluency) which is fostered by philosophy,
represent two complementary ways of exploring the realms of human
belief and meaning (ibid.). Bowman maintains that musical criticism is an
important factor in developing philosophical habits of mind in prospective
teachers of music and stresses its significance as an instructional strategy.
This analogy, however useful for constructing university program in music
education philosophy, does not add much new, if anything, to the basic
principles of the analytical approach in conceptualizing philosophy of
music education as a discipline.
The benefits of Bowmans endeavour, both in its positive proposal and
sustained criticism, are indisputable in that it gives new impulses and
opens new perspectives for the discipline. His flat denial of speculative
philosophies is to be properly understood, in my view, as a response to
the one-sided development of philosophy of music education which he
purported to break. For in effect, we are not facing a controversy here, since



the two strategies are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary.
The evidence is plain enough. The substantive theories are certainly not
devoid of analysis. If we look at Reimer, we will find him doing justice
to the analytic skills of a music teacher and recognizing the prevalent
confusion about and the need for clarifying concepts like, for example,
expression, creativity, aesthetic/artistic value. Another example
demonstrating the appreciation of the inquirial explorative component of
music education philosophy on the part of the substantivists could be
Broudys differentiation between philosophy of music education as a
reasoned justification of a set of beliefs (which he undoubtedly favours)
and a mere assertion of these beliefs.3
Bowman himself seems to be aware of the limitations of the analytic
approach in its strictly positivistic form. The most unfortunate limitations
of the analytical approach as a source of music education philosophy
stem from its (1) excessive emphasis on linguistic and logical techniques
that may cause hypercriticism and a loss of general perspective, and
(b) its being free (though not totally) of evaluative and normative judgments, positive doctrine, sociocultural, historical, etc. considerations. In
this respect a remarkable feature of Bowmans position is that he leaves
the door open for some portions of normative or evaluative judgments and
stresses the need to explore music in a broader, more inclusive context
(Bowman, 1992, pp. 1011). He also demonstrates tolerance towards a
potentially startling array of philosophies of music education which
might emerge from the multidimensional inquiry of the phenomena of
music education and music educational practice (ibid., 9). This however
does not turn Bowmans analytical approach into its opposite, since
he makes it most clear that philosophy of music education must be a
permanent quest for clarity and consistency in thought and action.


The thesis of the complementary relationships between the substantive
and analytic approaches to philosophy of music education reflects, to my
mind, the current phase of the disciplines development. This conclusion
finds support in recent works of David Elliott and Constantijn Koopman.
The crucial alteration brought about by these authors was their refusal to
3 Cf. Bowman, ibid., p. 7: They (students E. P.) would turn to critically-scrutinized
reasons in choosing and defending values, beliefs, and actions rather than assertions whose claims to validity extend no further than authority, fashion, or strength of



polarize to one of two extremes. They do not reject alternative approaches

as non-genuine or false as was previously the case. In his elucidation
of music education philosophys nature and goals Elliott does justice
to both theory-building and critical analysis of the concepts and beliefs
(Elliott, 1995, pp. 1112). The methodology of his own research, despite
its distinctly substantive orientation, reveals the close cooperation of
descriptive-analytical and constructive-normative principles.
Koopman writes in much the same vein but from an analytical
perspective. Clarifying his position, Koopman stresses that substantive
approach should not completely give way to analytical approaches but
should be better balanced by the latter (Koopman, 1997, p. 7). Indicating the advantages of analytical method and its significance for music
education philosophy, he undertook to ameliorate it by incorporating a
recommending component. Koopman outlined a three-step model which
consists of analysis, evaluation and improvement of the theories of various
kinds and conceptual frameworks (ibid., pp. 48).
It would be a mistake nevertheless to conceive of Elliott/Koopmans
position as a hybrid, a kind of third strategy, speculative-analytic in nature.
For Elliotts approach is substantive par excellence in that it amounts
to a particular philosophy while Koopmans position in his dissertation
(1997) is, on the contrary, that of an analysts since he places emphasis
on the analysis and discusses substantive theories only as a subject to
different forms of analysis without considering the methods and principles
of building of such theories. But once again, both explicitly express their
disposition to involve the elements of the rival strategy.
To summarize the discussion of this section, let me suggest that theorybuilding and analytic method taken apart are necessary but not sufficient
conditions of philosophy of music education. Analysis performs the job
of examination of the concepts and arguments, and a contribution of the
substantive approach consists in its paradigmatic significance, in providing
a coherent holistic theoretical construct. Philosophy of music education,
then, can be defined as a process of dialectical interplay of theory-building
and analytical inquiry, i.e. synthesis and analysis. Two parts of this process
can interact in synchrony at the level of a given theory as well as in
diachrony within the framework of the disciplines evolution.
Having arrived at the above definition, I feel obliged to take a step further
and to ask: What is the nature of the theories and concepts philosophy



of music education is dealing with? Do they possess a unique character

that is not subject to exploration by other disciplines? In other words,
Is philosophy of music education at all necessary? The question of the
specific subject of philosophy of music education is far from idle, because
the legitimacy of a discipline depends on the degree to which one can
specify its distinct and unique contribution, aims and subject. And the
status of the philosophy of music education is by no means self-evident.
Or more accurately, its self-evidence (probably alleged) vanishes beyond
the borders of North America. Indeed, in the UK, for instance, the term
philosophy of music education is considered incorrect and to have no
reference. The dominating approach there is based upon a set of disciplines aesthetics, sociology, psychology of music and music education
and curriculum studies. The situation in Germany presents another alternative. The philosophical foundations of music education are there a subject
of scientific music pedagogy (wissenschaftliche Musikpdagogik) as
opposed to a practical one (praktische Musikpdagogik).4 It is very
illustrative that Norbert Linkes endeavour in 1976 to promote philosophy of music education (Philosophie der Musikerziehung) did not
succeed. Drawing on Kant, he rejected the idea of the existence of a valid
closed-ended philosophy and adopted the view of the philosophy of music
education as a process of philosophizing about the problems of music
education. Linke suggested its aim to be the clarification of the significance of music for the society as a basis for subsequent identification of
the objectives of music education (Linke, 1976, p. 18). Unfortunately, he
has not accomplished the ambitious task to clear up the relations between
philosophy and music education as he promised at the outset. In his
attempt to explain the interconnection of the constituents of the triangle
philosophy-music-philosophy of education, Linke solely pointed out the
affinity of music and philosophy, both having their origin in intuition
the idea at least as old as Platos Phaedo. Notwithstanding, I dont believe
this is where to look for reasons for his failure to give impetus with his
book to the development of the philosophy of music education in Germany
as a distinct discipline. It is rather to assume that the idea of the new
discipline gained no currency because of the existence of music pedagogy,
which is supposed to be responsible for all theorizing in the field of music
education. As a matter of fact, the German scholars engaged in the investigation of the philosophical issues of music education identify themselves
with scientific music pedagogy (wissenschaftliche Musikpdagogik).
4 One must bear in mind the more inclusive meaning of the German concept

Wissenschaft as compared to the notion of science.



In Russia, on the other hand, one has reasons to anticipate inimical reception of the idea of philosophy of music education, taking into
account the commonly held view of philosophy of education, namely
that American scholars were forced to establish a philosophy of (music)
education because they do not have a special science of education, (music)
pedagogy (pedagogika) as we do in Russia. The most simple answer
to such a claim would be to remind one that in the USA there also is
a discipline education/music education which fulfills the function of
pedagogy/music pedagogy in other countries. But this does not resolve the
major problem of the relations between philosophy of music education and
music pedagogy. A clarification of the distinct nature and specific tasks of
both disciplines is inescapable if we wish to reveal and state convincingly
the raison dtre of the philosophy of music education.
My point here is that to conceive of the philosophy of music education as
another name for music pedagogy or as part of the latter is to misrepresent it. Let us consider how philosophy of music education and musical
pedagogy can be demarcated from one another in terms of subject matter
and questions they are concerned with. Musical pedagogy in its widest
sense is understood as all reflection, of whatever kind and at all levels,
about music education. It deals immediately and exclusively with the
process of music education in its ideal and real dimensions and directs
its critical and reflective attention to the music educational phenomena
and facts. Even in its most abstract form (wissenschaftliche Musikpdagogik) musical pedagogy remains a practical science which arises out of
the practice and refers back to it. As a normative-prescriptive discipline it
aims at the improvement and reforming of this practice.
Quite contrarily, philosophy of music education is philosophical in
its nature. So is the knowledge it produces philosophical knowledge
about music education. Its primary function consists in the investigation
and conceptualization of the foundational principles and tendencies of
music education. Philosophy of music education does not seek solutions
for concrete educational situations and problems but provides insights
into the nature and manifold constellations of music, man and society
in culture and in the universe from a perspective of music education a
job neither of the related disciplines performs. In brief, it concerns itself
with an analysis of the fundamental nature of music education. In order
to avoid misunderstandings it seems necessary to point out that this is not



to say that philosophy of music education is divorced from educational

practice as a kind of notorious ivory tower. The scholars engaged in the
philosophical investigation of music education are by no means those who
talk ex cathedra and not from practical experience: they need to be aware
of all problems and vital processes of this experience.
The specific feature of music education philosophy is that it possesses
no prescriptive force and does not deal directly with the music educational process but creates necessary presuppositions for its exploration and
improvement. Its connection to practice reveals itself in that it purports
to orient it. In this respect the analogy with philosophy of history or
philosophy of law would be a useful one. Both are concerned with
the investigation of the overall principles and critical analysis of fundamental concepts in the respective fields. They scrutinize the historical/legal
process as a whole at a general philosophical level, and in this they differ
principally from history and law, which deal with concrete historical or
legal events and systems.


It follows from the above considerations that there is a need to distinguish between two kinds of theories of music education an educational (pedagogical) one and a philosophical one. The difference could
be conceived in terms of Heinz Antholz, who distinguishes a theory
committed to enlighten the practice (Praxis erhellende Theorie) from
a theory intended for application to practice (auf technische Anwendung
bezogene Theorie) (Antholz, 1986, p. 20).5 An educational theories can
be philosophically grounded if they are based on an explicit philosophy
as, for example, Bennett Reimers theory of music education as aesthetic
education. But they are not always developed in such a manner; in some
cases a cooperation between two types of theory may work down: pedagogical conception can be subject to philosophical analysis in order to make
the fundamental issues explicit. This last point is part of a more general
problem that needs to be clarified: How precisely is philosophy of music
education related to music pedagogy? To answer this question, I shall
look at Friedrich Schellings differentiation between the philosophy and
the theory of any subject (putting aside the metaphysical religious nature
of his thought). According to Schelling, insofar as a science (i.e. of nature
or art) presents in itself the Absolute, it is a genuine philosophy. In every
5 Antholz refers in his contention to O. F. Bollnow.



other case, when a particular power (Potenz) is treated like a particular

(Besondere) and for its own laws, when thus what we are dealing with is
not a philosophy, which is universal, but particular knowledge about the
subject, which is to say, a finite aim, in every such case the science can be
not a philosophy but a theory of a special subject. A theory of any subject
could derive its principles from the philosophy of this subject but because
it only derives them it is not a philosophy itself (Schelling, 1977, p. 388).
Seen in this way, music pedagogy or the discipline of music education and
the philosophy of music education may be related to each other as first
and second order activities. The latter represents a metalevel of inquiry at
which music education is explored in its multidimensional connections to
various realms of being in the universe while the former is committed to
examine this phenomenon per se.
The need for second order reflection in music education arises from
the obvious fact that the music educational process does not occur in a
vacuum but is incorporated in and closely tied to structures of different
natures and levels. For example, one of its most significant determinants
is the way of music production and consumption which is drastically
changing in our time. To examine the influence of these transformations
on the educational process a kind of research is needed which goes beyond
the scope of music pedagogy, while presupposing good knowledge of the
practice of music education. This need could be illustrated by the attempts
of the German music educationists to arrive at the second order reflection which they seek to mark within the scientific musical pedagogy by
way of its more detailed structurization. Delineating a systematization of
music educational thinking and research, Hermann J. Kaiser outlined a
three-level model while designating its parts as follows: 1) aesthetic- and
musical aesthetic theory and theory of social activity, 2) theory of education (Erziehung und Bildung) and 3) theory of cultivating and developing
to music-related experiences (institutional and noninstitutional) (Kaiser,
1995, pp. 3738).
Hermann Rauhe in his turn proposed to divide the scientific musical
pedagogy itself into two parts (Richter, 1997, col. 1442). According to
Rauhe, scientific musical pedagogy in the broad sense deals with the relationship between a man and musics in order to clarify the premises,
conditions and possibilities of fostering this relationship. It also includes
the practical and theoretical pursuit of such areas as well as musical
psychology and sociology. Consequently, the mission of scientific musical
pedagogy in the narrow sense is to elaborate a philosophically grounded
theory of music teaching.



Kaisers model as well as Rauhes (apart from rather confused content

and doubtful inclusiveness of the latter) clearly indicate a philosophical level of reflection. The persistence of German scholars in
attaching philosophy of music education to musical pedagogy has its
roots, in my opinion, in the commonly accepted view that subsumes
philosophy of education under the general pedagogy as one of its
subdivisions. Traditionally, the philosophical foundations of education
(Bildungs-/Erziehungsphilosophie) were a part of the science of education (Erziehungswissenschaft) which in the last years is considered as
congruent to general pedagogy (allgemeine Pdagogik). They include
as their subdivisions a wide spectrum of sciences such as psychology
of pedagogy, sociology of pedagogy, etc. which in the Anglo-American
area are developed as independent subject fields. This leads to the selfsufficiency of pedagogy which is supposed to stay firmly on her own feet.
Music educators follow the same line of thought and seek to describe the
status and identity of music pedagogy as an autonomous discipline that,
however, still remains a desideratum.6
There can be no objection to music pedagogys claim to autonomy. I
agree entirely that music pedagogy is a discipline in its own right but,
as stated earlier, I think it is highly problematic and even erroneous to
subsume under it the philosophy of music education. The question of
the proper location of this discipline is, in fact, a very difficult one,
since it actually resides in the field of tension between philosophy and
music education. I suggest two solutions to this problem which imply two
ways of approaching the discipline at the ontological level. First, philosophy of music education can be broadly and most loosely conceived as a
self-organizing plural system open to further intensive and extensive development, as a field of knowledge which is not strictly constitutionalized.
The best argument for such a definition would be the content of the issues
of Philosophy of Music Education Review which covers a wide spectrum
of topics. Secondly, philosophy of music education may be viewed as a
distinct discipline with a relatively autonomous status. It is not independent
in the fullest sense, because it has no unique method, tools and specific
judgements, but shares them with philosophy. For these reasons philosophy of music education is to be placed close to philosophy and designated
as a philosophic discipline. But in both cases it remains a distinct theoretical endeavour whose distinctness consists in its particular questions, aims
6 It proves to be most difficult to reconcile the interdisciplinary nature of this discipline
with its autonomy. See Sigfrid Abel-Struths typology of the attempts of grounding of
musical pedagogy (Begrndungsversuche der Musikpdagogik) in Sigfrid Abel-Struth
(1985), pp. 8290.



and concerns. In other words, this means that the most significant identity
condition of philosophy of music education is its unique function whereas
in terms of the other traditional parameters it can not be clearly demarcated
from related disciplines.
On the basis of what has been said above (at least) two options for
the future development of the philosophy of music education could be
anticipated: it can keep existing as a free interdisciplinary discourse or
it may evolve into a more strictly organized philosophical discipline.
In this paper I have undertaken to clarify two aspects of the philosophy
of music educations nature and value. First, I have designated the main
tendencies in approaching this phenomenon, demonstrating their weaknesses and strengths (part 1). Secondly, I have given my arguments against
the conception of philosophy of music education as a part of or another
name for music pedagogy which puts in question its very necessity (part 2).
As a result I offer a definition of philosophy of music education as a field
of knowledge or, more strictly a philosophical discipline, which performs
the job of clarifying basic concepts and categories and of thinking together
and relating the fundamental premises and principles of music education,
i.e., its modus of existence is characterized by permanent interconnection
of analysis and theory-building. I hope to have shown that philosophy of
music education has a specific mission which can be carried out neither by
philosophy nor by musical pedagogy, since the former has no educational
focus and the latter doesnt possess an adequate apparatus to solve the
specific tasks of exploring the foundational premises of music education
its constituents and the phenomenon itself considered as a part of the
In preparing this article the author was supported by the scholarship of the
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