Some writers in PME contend that the praxial philosophy is only concerned with performing. This is incorrect. Let me say why. First, my concept of musicing is multidimensional, collective, and inclusive: As I emphasize at the outset of MM:
Please note that the term music-ing is a contraction of music making. I shall most often use musicing in the collective sense to mean all five forms of music making: performing, improvising, composing, arranging and conducting [italics added]. On some occasions, however, I shall make it plain from the context of the discussion that I am using musicing as a synonym for performing, or one of the other four kinds of music making. (p. 40)
Accordingly, I examine the nature of performing in chapter 3 of MM and I go on to examine the natures of composing, improvising, and conducting in chapters 7 and 9. As Gruhn confirms: “Elliott begins to explicate his approach to music learning with a focus on performing (his subsequent chapters explicate his approach to learning listening, composing, arranging, and so forth)” (PME, p. 108). Indeed, I never say that performing is the only thing students should do. On praxial and educational grounds I argue for an instructional approach that combines the teaching of musicing-and-listening, by which I mean teaching students to be reflective practitioners as they engage in performing-and-listening, improvising-and-listening, arranging-and-listening, composing-and-listening, and conducting-and-listening. In addition, I explain practical teaching strategies at the end of most chapters (MM, chapters 3-11) that teachers should use to develop reflective music makers and listeners.
I will not re-write MM to evidence what I have just said. But allow me to flesh out some key points in preparation for “dialoguing” with my colleagues, which I do momentarily.
In my guidelines for lesson planning, I state that the first step is to “decide the kinds of music making your students will pursue. The values of MUSIC arise in the actions of musicing and listening” (MM, p. 273). As you see in the passage quoted below, I mean all forms of musicing, and I integrate listening instruction with the teaching of all forms of musicing. Also, I state that “all forms of musicing are mutually reinforcing and interdependent from a social, artistic, ethical, and educational point of view” (MM, p. 172).
Preparing and planning a music curriculum begins by deciding the kinds of artistic music making that students will pursue during short-term and long-term time periods. There are five possible choices: performing, improvising, composing, arranging and conducting. Since we cannot teach all five forms of music making at each moment to all students, teachers must decide which forms of musicing to select. This philosophy has argued that the music curriculum-as-practicum ought to focus primarily (but not exclusively) on music making through musical performing and improvising. Composing, arranging and conducting ought to be taken up with reasonable frequency (during a period of weeks and months) and in relation to the musical practices and works that students are pursuing through musical performing.
In terms of listening, I emphasize the following:
“. . . since all forms of music making depend on artistic music listening and since artistic listening develops in relation to the five component knowings of musicianship, listening ought to be taught and learned in direct relation to the musical practices and works students are learning in and through their own music making [italics added] (MM, p. 274) . . . it is essential that all musical works by prepared, taught, and learned in all their relevant dimensions [of musical meaning]” (MM, p. 275).
There is much more to say about listening, as I do later in this section and in other sections of this web site. For now, let me emphasize that praxialism aims to develop students’ listening abilities for their present and future enjoyment as amateur music makers and/or audience listeners. Doing so involves teaching students to listen-attentively-for many aspects of musical works (as I explain in chapters 4, 6, 8, and 9 of MM). To me, this includes (but is not limited to) learning to listen to live and recorded performances in order to understand and appreciate the processes and products of performing-interpreting, improvising, composing, arranging, and conducting. Gruhn puts it another way: “A praxial approach to developing musical understanding integrates so-called practical and mental skills; it brings together doing, making, feeling, and thinking; and it complements action with reflection (PME, p. 106).
Indeed, praxialism emphasizes the need to understand and teach music making – all kinds of musicing – as critically reflective engagements. So, in the case of performing, praxialism seeks to educate students as reflective and creative practitioners – not mere “sound producers.” In fact, it’s not possible to be an attentive, reflective music maker without being an attentive, reflective listener. Praxialism aims to develop students who are “in tune” (affectively, physically, cognitively, and so forth) with the music they are making and listening-for, and who actively participate in generating and selecting how their individual and/or group performances will unfold. In other words, praxialism views all forms of musicing, including performing, as creative processes, not just “production” or re-creative processes, as traditionalists believe. Also, when students engage in composing and arranging, it’s imperative that they hear their own creations interpreted and performed musically and expressively, not merely re-produced or sounded out, as so often happens in so-called composition courses.
As I mentioned above, there are many “constructivist” teaching-learning strategies we can use to help our students become reflective makers and listeners, including the following: targeting attention, coaching, modeling, problem finding, problem solving, fading, and scaffolding, to name a few. Three other strategies I explain in MM for developing students’ listening skills are (a) the ensemble rehearsal critique (b) the rehearsal journal and (3) the listening log. More on these strategies in a moment.
I suggest, then, that my version of praxialism puts listening at the center of ever music teaching-learning experience by insisting that we teach listening systematically and continuously (in relation to all dimensions of musical works) while teaching students to make music (as performers, improvisers, composers and so forth) and, also, by listening to recordings.
Dolloff confirms what I have just said:
“Elliott proposes that children be taught to listen by learning to listen to several dimensions of their own performances, learning to listen to other performances of the same work (via recordings), and learning to listen to recorded examples of pieces from the same or related practices that they are working in” (PME, p. 291).
Barrett makes a similar observation:
“Praxial teaching-learning strategies for developing musical creativity include teachers and students taking on roles as coaches, guides, models, constructive listeners, and advisers (MM, pp. 224-227; p. 234). Creative development depends on students building sufficient musical skills and understandings to be competent music listeners and makers. For Elliott, the key to creativity lies in developing musicianship and creative strategies concurrently (not consecutively), beginning at the earliest stages of instruction” (PME, p. 181).
An important source of philosophical wisdom and encouragement I drew from in developing my philosophy was the work of Harvard professor Israel Scheffler, one of America’s most esteemed educational philosophers. As you see in these quotes from MM, Scheffler’s pragmatist ideas inform many of my praxial themes:
“. . . if a student knows how to make something, says Scheffler, he or she understands it.34 Scheffler argues that the process of learning to make a mathematical proof, a scientific experiment, a philosophical argument, or a musical performance is essential to a student’s understanding of the products of such efforts.35 Engaging in the process of making, says Scheffler, “allows us to relate process and product, to understand them in connection with one another and so to learn something valuable about action in general.”36 A student’s involvement in making develops his or her ability to shift concentration back and forth between (i) the process of making as something worthwhile in its own right (as an end in itself) and (ii) the outcome of his efforts [italics added].” (MM, p. 173)
To underline the points I’ve been making, consider chapter 11 of MM, “Music Teaching and Learning.” In this chapter I provide one example of a short-term plan for praxial music instruction in relation to an elementary-general choral music class (e.g., a group of 25 10-year-olds). (There are thousands of other possible examples I could have chosen, depending on what Musics a teacher selects for/with her students, and many other variables. So, please re-think the following scenario in a variety of circumstances). In the example I offer in MM (pp. 275-276), I suggest that a teacher concerned with plotting the scope of his/her general music class as a choral singing practicum should not limit the class to singing alone. I propose that a teacher’s preparations, plans, and actions over the course of (say) six classes meetings (or 2 weeks, or whatever, depending on all the “variables” an individual teacher may face) should implement continuous processes of enabling and empowering his/her children to make music and listen to music in ways akin to the following: (A) the children participate together in learning to interpret, perform, listen to, and conduct an appropriate Baroque work (e.g., Bach’s Duet from Cantata No. 9); (B) the children participate together in learning to interpret, perform, listen to, and move to a simple 12-bar jazz blues; (C) the children participate together in learning to improvise and compose a blues melody related to the blues tune selected in example B and/or in relation to selected blues recordings; (D) the children participate in learning to interpret, perform, listen to, and move to a Zulu song (e.g., Siyahamba); (E) the children return to the Baroque work in example A, above, and continue improving their abilities to hear the several dimensions of meaning in this work (see MM, p. 199) by singing it, listening to a recording of this work, and listening to a recording of their singing made by their teacher – and so on, and on. Depending on each teacher’s circumstances, one class lesson may include several of the above projects, or just one, and so on.
Please note the praxial emphasis on listening in relation to and in the context of all forms of musicing, and listening to recordings. As I state: “Of course, in all the above examples, the music teacher will guide students to listen artistically and provide opportunities for students to listen to recordings of related works within the same musical practices” (MM, p. 275).
Dolloff affirms the inclusive nature of praxialism and emphasizes the following:
“One of the key features of the praxial philosophy applied to the elementary music classroom is the emergent nature of the teaching/learning experience. As teachers and students address the full musical potential of a piece of music, they will be presented with many options for the organic inclusion of a multi-faceted experience. Moving between forms of music making, singing, dancing, conducting, composing, arranging, improvising, and listening allows students to engage a musical work from a variety of perspectives [italics added]. Accordingly, many opportunities for teaching “about” music (for developing” formal musical knowledge” that official State curricula require) will arise naturally and fluidly if we respect the multiplicity of meanings in the musics we are studying . . .” (PME, p. 295).
Burnard makes a similar point in the context of teaching creativity:
“the praxial view of general music education affirms the complexity of children as reflective music makers and validates listening, performing, improvising, composing, arranging, and conducting as interdependent forms of creative doing. This philosophical acknowledgment of the musical wholeness and complexity of children as reflective music makers is to be applauded” (PME, p. 267).
At another point in MM I describe the situation of a secondary school music teacher teaching a work called Basie – Straight Ahead in the context of a secondary school jazz ensemble. Notice the interweaving of performing and listening:
“Learning how to interpret, perform and listen for this musical work involves learning how to relate the musical design of Basie – Straight Ahead to the traditions and standards of Southwest jazz swing practice, as well as any musical expressions of emotion and/or musical representations in this work” (MM, p. 178).
Praxialism maintains that we must contextualize the musical works we teach. In the Basie piece, for example, we need to immerse our students in this jazz style-practice and fuel their motivation to learn more about the pieces, legends, lore, heroes, and traditions of this style-community by using “related recordings, videos, historical readings, computer software and live performances by other school and/or professional musicians” (MM, p. 179). Again, a central theme of the praxial philosophy is that every form of musicing gives our students a vitally important perspective from which to understand the musical works and practices they are learning. No single perspective is enough.
Allow me to elaborate what I’ve said about the praxial approach to teaching listening, beginning with excerpts from two essays in PME. As Burnard says:
“the praxial philosophy emphasizes listening as a central tenet. Elliott spends much time in his book (Chapters 4, 6, & 8) developing a framework for music listening and the teaching of music listening. As he states (pp. 198-201), what is offered is a ‘multidimensional’ concept of musical works; a ‘map’ for guiding teachers and students toward ‘finding’ or constructing the range of meanings that a work may involve” (PME, p. 271).
“Elliott insists that listening should be taught continuously and systematically while students learn to make music in several ways: ‘artistic music listening can and must be developed in relation to the musical works students are learning’ (MM, p. 179). He proposes a reciprocal relationship between music making and music listening and he views informed music listening as a manifestation of musicianship” (PME, p. 291).
Concerning the use of recordings, Dolloff adds this:
“Elliott proposes that children be taught to listen by learning to listen to several dimensions of their own performances, learning to listen to other performances of the same work (via recordings), and learning to listen to recorded examples of pieces from the same or related practices that they are working in [italics added]” (PME, p. 291).
As Dolloff confirms, then, I support the use recordings to enhance and extend students’ listening beyond the works or styles they are working in as performers, improvisers, composers, and so forth. Doing so is essential for students’ enjoyment, for informing them about other works in the style-practice they are learning in class, and for giving them models and ideas they can use in their creative endeavors. So, to repeat, I am not opposed to taking “time out” from musicing-and-listening to listen to recordings (as some critics state). On the contrary. We should do this. I state that, as well as teaching students to listen in relation to what they’re doing as music makers, teachers should use “carefully selected recordings . . . in direct relation to the musical practices students are being inducted into” (MM, p. 266). Indeed, and in addition to what I’ve said and cited above, please note three strategies I recommend for educating students’ listening abilities: the listening log, the ensemble rehearsal critique, and the rehearsal journal.
The idea of the listening log (MM, p. 285) is that each student organizes and maintains a personal listening diary of the recordings and live performances they listen to using the six-dimensional listening guide I develop and present in MM (pp. 198-201). This listening guide is an “open concept” of musical works that posits multiple, interactive dimensions of musical meaning students can learn to focus on for their understanding and enjoyment.
Dolloff makes this important point:
“the characteristic that distinguishes the praxial approach to music listening is Elliott’s postmodern emphasis on teaching children to attend to much more than the formal design components of works and apply and sharpen their music listening skills (in all dimensions – structural, interpretive, emotive, ideological, and so forth)” (PME, p. 291).
Accordingly, students listen to recordings and write down comments about selected works in relation to these dimensions (during or after they listen), during or after school, or at live concerts. The listening log encourages students to practice listening-for and reflecting-on musical works as multidimensional constructions (as opposed to “just listening” in the sense of merely hearing, noticing, or daydreaming, which is not what educators should be encouraging in music education). Coincidentally, the log provides a way of assessing the growth of students’ listenership and the expansion of their listening experiences. I suggest “students might begin their logs by listening for recordings of works they are learning to interpret and perform in their class practicum, or recordings of related works. They might then listen more widely ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the musical practices they are learning” (MM, p. 285). As part of the listening log strategy at the middle and secondary school levels, I suggest that teachers and students might also examine reviews by professional music critics in local newspapers, or in (say) Stereo Review, Gramophone, Fanfare, The New York Times, Downbeat, the Yearbook of Traditional Music, or The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and Cassettes (p. 285).
The ensemble critique (MM, p. 284) is used to focus and develop students’ critically-reflective listening in relation to all details of the works they’re performing, how well they’re performing these works, and the relationships among the wholes-and-parts of the pieces they’re interpreting and making together in their ensembles. To insure proper use of ensemble critiques, the critique form should be constructed to relate issues of musical interpretation and performance to all relevant dimensions of musical works being creatively interpreted and performed: interpretive, sensuous, structural, stylistic, emotionally expressive, representational, and ideological-cultural. When properly designed and implemented, ensemble critiques support and encourage students to think-and-feel collectively and comparatively about what they’re hearing and doing, which develops all dimensions of their listenership: procedural, formal, informal, impressionistic and metacognitive (MM, pp. 84-87; pp. 96-101). In all these ways, critiques help deepen and broaden the understandings and emotions of each student and the ensemble-practicum as a whole. Additionally, by raising the level of reflective listening, critiques help to shift responsibility for critical thinking from teachers to students. Dolloff recommends a variation on these themes when she says that, through the use of video and audiotapes, “students can also be their own audiences, listening to their rehearsals and performances with an artistic ear to what they would like to improve” (PME, p. 285).
The practice journal is a logical extension of the ensemble critique. In this case, students keep personal records of what they hear in the results of their performing (improvising, composing and so forth) outside class (e.g., as they’re practicing or composing at home), as well as self-reflections that can be shared with peers and teachers for feedback and coaching. The journal need not be limited to words. It may also include audiotapes, videotapes, practice plans, score analyses, and so on.
At this point I invite you to compare and contrast what I’ve just said with criticisms by three colleagues in PME. First, both of Bowman’s chapters in PME (3 and 8) rest on the assumption that the praxial philosophy is exclusively concerned with teaching performance. In chapter 3, he argues that a praxial concept of music (as developed by Alperson and Sparshott) does not support my “apparent conviction” that performing is the only way to develop musicianship and teach music. I hope it’s clear from what I’ve said above that I have no such conviction. In chapter 8, he states: “Elliott’s philosophy maintains, on purportedly praxial grounds, that performing music . . . is the best way to teach and learn it” (p. 143). Again, this is not what I maintain.
Another colleague claims that while “many music educators treat musicing and listening as equally important,” I do not (PME, p. 86). He states that my philosophy considers listening to be “an independent activity that should be allowed, at most, a marginal place in music education” (p. 86). He adds this: “Elliott argues that listening is inferior to performance” (p. 87). I disagree with these claims for the reasons I’ve given above (and more reasons to follow, below). Perhaps Koopman is resting some of these claims on a specific section of MM (pp. 101-103) where I criticize general music programs based on the MEAE (“aesthetic education” philosophy), its absolutist concept of musical works, and its heavy use of recordings at the expense of meaningful music making. (Regelski agrees with this assessment of MEAE in his essay, as I note below). “Aesthetic education” students merely dabble in activities designed to teach verbal concepts about the “elements” of musical works (formal properties alone) that students are trying to identify as recordings play (e.g., theme a, theme b, and so forth). This is what I oppose; I do not dismiss the importance of listening per se. On the contrary. So, it may be that Koopman mistakes my opposition to “just listening” in MEAE programs for an opposition to music listening overall. If so, this would be a serious mistake, which I might have been able to head off by expressing myself more clearly.
Next, as part of his critique of my view that performing-and-listening should be taught together, Koopman seems to argue that it’s not necessary to teach performing because music is not a performing art any more (p. 87). However, the examples Koopman gives to support his view seem problematic. For example, composers of computer music (his example) are still involved in a form of performing even if they are only “manipulating sound processors,” as Koopman explains (p. 87). But on a much larger level, there are (in fact) thousands of amateur and community-music makers around the world (see Veblen’s essay, chapter 17) who want to learn to perform and who do so enthusiastically in a variety of ways and style-practices. For another thing, consider the countless number of computer music-making programs that music technologists have developed during the last fifteen years for the creative use of “ordinary” and professional music makers. In fact, at this very moment, music technologists are upgrading and adding these technologies to mobile phones for ordinary citizens to use as amateur performers and improvisers. Also, people everywhere are enthusiastic about karaoke machines and other music-minus-one programs that allow them to sing or play along with elaborate music backgrounds. I might also point out how thousands of people sing-a-long with the music they listen to on their ipods and walkmans during everyday life. Altogether, then, music performing (in its many forms) is alive and well, and everywhere people seek to do music, as well as listen to recordings.
Additional points in Koopman’s discussion of music listening (pp. 86-90) are best studied in relation to Bowman’s comprehensive examination (see PME, chapter 8) of the same issues, especially Bowman’s sections on “Listening: Con” (pp. 153-158) and “Listening: Pro” (pp. 158-160). Suffice it to say I’m disappointed Koopman misunderstands me as being against the use of recordings to teach listening in the practicum setting (p. 95). Indeed, he seems to think that my concept of the music curriculum-as-practicum is only concerned with performance abilities: “an exclusive focus on practicums fails to do justice to the diversity of musical roles one can take nowadays” (PME, pp. 95-96). I have more to offer on this topic under Curriculum, below. For now, let me just say that practicums are designed as close approximations of real music style-practice situations that include all forms of musicing and listening and listening to records: “listening is directed, first, to the music being made by students themselves,” and, “in support of this kind of listening . . . carefully selected recordings are introduced” (MM, p. 266). So, everything in the praxial curriculum-as-practicum aims to educate informed and joyful listeners in a variety of ways, from a variety of “stances,” including the CD-listener, the audience listener, and the maker-listener.
Now I could easily be wrong, but I get the sense that Koopman wants to teach listening exclusively by means of recordings: “in view of the fact that the majority of music in present-day Western society is made to be listened to, instead of being performed, teaching pupils to become critical listeners is a major task of music education” (PME, p. 89). Yes, of course, I agree. But how? Let me answer this question another way. The fact that most students do not become professional scientists does not prevent educators from teaching all students to do experiments and get actively involved in solving scientific problems (at their level) as a major part of their science education. The same goes for sports, language instruction, and most other subjects: most schools don’t follow a “spectator-only strategy”; instead, most schools require students to be involved in “constructing” their knowledge through hands-on experience in the context of the subject they are studying, as John Dewey (among many others) always advocated. So, why should it be different for music?
In chapter 16, O’Toole states that my philosophy “limits musicing to performers, has a separate category for listeners, and does not include any other form of participants” (p. 299). Given what I’ve pointed out above, I believe these statements are incorrect.
Cutietta and Stauffer devote their entire essay (PME, chapter 7) to the topic of listening. Their discussion offers an extremely lucid and elegant exposition of many issues. At one point in their essay (pp. 131-132) they focus on the interaction between music making and culture. In the process, they raise interesting points for discussion and clarification. First, Cutietta and Stauffer want to claim that, according to my view, if a person is a superior music maker in one style (they give the example of “Listener 3” who is an expert classical musician), then this person should be a superior listener in any other style (e.g., zydeco). Next, they introduce Listener 4, who is not a music maker but who spends a lot of time listening to recordings of Hip-hop. Here is their claim: “one of the implications of Elliott’s theory is that Listener 3 is a superior listener to Listener 4 by virtue of his or her music-making skills and is therefore able to make more sense of the sounds [of zydeco, or Hip-hop]” (p. 131).
My philosophy implies no such thing. I argue that musicianship-and-listenership are interrelated and style-context dependent. Music-making abilities in a style depend on music listening abilities in that same style. Thus, I do not suggest that music making in one style (e.g., Baroque) will automatically prepare a person to listen for other distantly related styles (e.g., Hip-hop, or Indonesian Gamelan). Yes, of course, if the styles-practices involved are closely related, I believe good, proficient listening will most likely result. For example, learning to play and listen reflectively to Dixieland jazz will probably help a person listen more deeply to swing-style jazz, or cool jazz. Even then, however, these “style communities” and their works are different. Thus, performing well (reflectively) in one will not necessarily develop expert listening in the other.
Although Cutietta and Stauffer acknowledge the contextual nature of musicianship-and-listenership early in their essay (p. 124), this basic element of praxialism seems to be absent in their discussion of Listener 3 and 4. In other words, Cutietta and Stauffer are comparing an apple (Listener 3, who knows how to make and listen to classical music) with an orange (Listener 4, who only listens to Hip-hop). The proper comparison would be between a person who makes and listens to classical music (Listener 3, in their terms) and another person who only listens to classical music (let’s call her Listener 3a). What I’m saying is that Listener 3 will be a superior Listener compared to Listener 3a in the context of classical music. Yes, of course, it’s very possible that someone who only listens to recordings of classical music and/or attends classical concerts (Listener 3a) can learn to listen to this music to some degree, and love it. (More, next, on the degree of listening ability one can learn by listening alone). But praxialism suggests that, if we are engaged in education, and if we want our students to fully develop students’ listening abilities, then we have a responsibility to provide our students with a comprehensive education in a reasonable range of styles through many kinds of musicing and listening (recordings, live concerts, in-class peer listening, etc.)
Following their discussion of Listener 3 and 4, they ask how is it that “non-music makers who are deeply grounded in a musical culture (opera fans, Dead Heads, hip hoppers, country music fans) are able to exhibit sophisticated listening skills not accounted for by praxial theory [italics added]” (p. 132). But what does it mean to be “deeply grounded” in a musical practice without being able to do it to some degree? Suppose I’ve never tried to hit a golf ball, but I know many facts about golf, and I watch a lot of golf on TV. Does this qualify me as being “deeply grounded” in golf? I don’t think so. These factors may indicate that I appreciate golf to some degree, but they are not good evidence that I understand golf deeply, or that I see important aspects of the game that (even) ordinary golfers see. Similarly, how do we know what “avid fans” of opera or country music (or any style) actually hear when they listen? There is no way of knowing what goes on in listeners’ heads while they’re listening. Importantly, Cutietta and Stauffer admit this point at the end of their essay: “Apart from a significant body of work on preference and perception, we know very little about how people listen, particularly with regard to listeners in popular music cultures” (p. 140). Yes. Thus, I am not persuaded by the statement that avid music fans (who’ve never learned to make music in some way) “often exhibit sophisticated listening skills” (p. 132).
My colleagues continue their essay by suggesting that, if the praxial philosophy is correct, then any act of performing should lead to enhanced listening. Based on this assumption, Cutietta and Stauffer challenge praxialism by citing a research study that shows no significant difference in perceptions of tension in a band piece between musicians who had performed it and those who had not (pp. 132-133). Based on this single study, they conclude that enhanced listening doesn’t follow automatically from performing.
Among other problems, their starting point is false. I never say that “just performing” will enhance listening. I say that performing-and-listening must be taught systematically, together, in relevant stylistic contexts. Praxialism is all about the development of reflective music makers and listeners. So, if the band members in the study (above) had been taught according to the praxial philosophy, then their musicianship and listenership abilities would have developed together in the course of their musicing and listening, and in relation to recordings. On this basis, I contend that the band students in this study would have learned how to listen to the many levels of meaning in musical works, including tension.
Next, my colleagues argue a closely related point: that I overstate the case for music making at the expense of music listening. They argue that “music making can lead to improved listening skills, but the relationship is by no means automatic or guaranteed” (p. 137). They offer examples they’ve witnessed where students perform but don’t listen, and/or repeat mistakes over and over (p. 137). Yes, of course, I’ve seen these same things many times myself. This is one reason I developed the praxial view. MM posits an alternative to teaching performing (and other kinds of musicing) as simplistic, mechanistic sound producing. Teaching the praxial way means systematically developing the many kinds of knowing involved in musicianship and listenership in situ, and teaching students to listen-for the many dimensions of meaning in musical works.
At another point, Cutietta and Stauffer say that I only discuss the development of “cognitive emotions” in relation to music making (p. 136). This is incorrect. (More on this point under Values and Affect). In fact, I also discuss cognitive emotions and impressionistic musical knowledge as key parts of the listenership (MM, p. 99) that people apply during listening and during all forms of musicing. For example, I state that one outcome of cognizing the delineated meanings of musical works are “cognitive emotions (positive and/or negative) about whether the cultural conventions of a given work (say, a piece of country and western music) matches a listener’s cultural beliefs and values” (MM, p. 195) and/or affiliations. So, I have no difference with Cutietta and Stauffer when they argue that listening to recordings advances the development of students’ impressionistic musical knowledge (intuition), “cognitive emotions,” and the complete range of students’ musical-affective experiences.
Next, Cutietta and Stauffer ask whether the actions of moving to music, dancing to music, and conducting music advance listening skills? Yes, definitely, and I should have said more about these topics. Nevertheless, I do state that if “the body is in the mind” – if there is a physical basis for the mind in the form of the physical brain, as most scholars believe – “then it makes perfect sense (as Dalcroze, Orff, and Kodaly specialists maintain) that the kinds of moving involved in music making (including conducting) are essential to improving musical understanding” (MM, p. 103). I also state that listening can involve moving in the sense of dancing and worshipping (129), and that listening may involve paying attention to how musical works are expressive of human movements like walking, running, dancing, working, playing, and so forth (p. 138).
Now in regard to some of the criticisms raised above, consider this: if I didn’t believe in the central importance of listening in music education, and if I wasn’t interested in teaching listening fully, in all possible ways, why would I spend several chapters (i.e., MM, chapters 4, 6, 8, and 9) building and explaining a multidimensional model of musical works for teachers to use in teaching listening (see, especially, MM, pp. 201-202)? I say that my model of the musical work is an open concept, that there is no one way to listen to all music everywhere, that the dimensions of musical works I discuss are “heuristic devices” for teaching listening, and that there are, most likely, other dimensions of musical meaning I haven’t accounted for (MM, p. 200). I suggest that “if this ‘map’ of musical works is used as an adaptable guide, then students are more likely than not to experience a fuller measure of the human values that musicing and listening involve” (MM, p. 201).
Summarizing to this point: yes, there are many examples of bad music teaching in which students just learn to “make sounds” and “push buttons” with no concern for deep listening or expressive performing. I hope it’s clear that I reject such “educational malpractice” and that this is not what I’m advocating in MM. I’m offering a philosophy intended to teach listening in the context of musicing and with the use of recordings. To accomplish this, as I said above, I suggest many strategies (at the end of most chapters) that I take from several educational sources, including the theory of educational psychology called “constructivism” This theory highlights the efficacy of: targeting students’ attention while listening and musicing; peer teaching; reciprocal teaching; self-questioning; teaching problem finding and problem solving while musicing and listening to recordings; the use of reflective listening techniques (e.g., the listening log and ensemble critique). All these strategies are basic for teaching students to be keen, careful, critical listeners.
I also emphasize that we need to engage students’ creative strategies (MM, chapter 9). When students are engaged in creative endeavors – as musicers of all kinds – we need to simultaneously develop their ability to listen critically to recordings so they can learn the workings of styles in which they’re composing (improvising, and so forth) and find ideas they can use in their compositions (for example), and to develop their creative dispositions toward acts of interpretive-expressive performing, conducting, moving, and so forth.
Cutietta and Stauffer argue that what I’m describing “is the basic model of the private music lesson” (p. 138). Yes and no. Yes, some private studio teachers use some of these processes. However, the literatures and applications of constructivism and reflective practice (and other strategies I recommend) are drawn from long histories of group-classroom teaching, as one can see from reading (for example) The Reflective Practitioner (Schon, 1983) and Psychology Applied to Teaching (Biehler and Snowman, 2004, pp. 300-338). So, what I’m recommending for music education is eminently doable. In fact, many music educators have been teaching the “praxial way” for decades.
Further support for the curriculum-as-practicum approach comes from several authors in PME, especially Dolloff, Burnard, and Regelski. I say more on this topic under Curriculum, but let me conclude this section with a passage from Regelski’s essay that expresses clearly what I mean by the “praxial curriculum.”
“despite competent amateurs’ failure to reach expert status, the insights they gain from praxis lead to greater interest and unique discernments as listeners. People who perform listen more often to the type of music they play and listen with different interests and insight. On the other hand, I understand audience listening to be its own praxis: it has its own conditions, criteria and “goods” and therefore profits from its own apprenticeship. This means, among other things, that audience listening ought to be one of the key action ideals in curriculums for performance instruction and thus deserves a dedicated and direct apprenticeship of its own in addition to cultivating performance expertise.
General music instruction, in particular, also needs its own practicum for listening. But this needs to include performing and compositional praxes of various kinds and degrees that inform listening in productive ways. But instead of having “just listening” as the sole intended consequence of the general music curriculum, as is typically the case with MEAE [music education as aesthetic education], a praxial approach to general music class will also focus on developing an interest in and nurturing the skills for various kinds and levels of performing and creating music for recreational purposes” (PME, p. 238).
That said, Regelski worries that one of my conclusions “seems to be that listeners who presumably enjoy listening without benefit of any performance experience or expertise are somehow unintelligently experiencing music – are somehow ‘missing’ musical meaning that is only divined by insights gained via performance” (PME, p. 239). Well, as Bowman also argues (PME, chapter 8), I believe there is a strong basis for claiming that listeners who have never made music in any way do miss important musical meanings. But isn’t this what Regelski also acknowledges at the beginning his statement, above?
In any event, I would not say that non-performers experience music “unintelligently.” In fact, as I explain throughout MM (beginning in chapter 4, and continuing to my reflections on the listening of the human fetus: MM, pp. 94, 127), numerous kinds of mind-full processes (emotion, cognition, memory, attention, and so on) are continuously involved in everyone’s music listening. So, even the youngest and most inexperienced listeners are engaged in intelligent processes.
What Regelski wants (and rightly so) is more clarification about how, and how much, music making contributes to music listening. I can’t give an empirical answer. What I am positing philosophically, and from practical experience, is that all five dimensions of listenership (MM, chapter 4) can be improved via comprehensive praxial curricula that offer all forms of musicing and creating. My point in MM, then, and in everything I’ve said in this section, is intended to underline what Regelski says (above) and in this statement: learning listening “needs to include performing and compositional praxes of various kinds and degrees that inform listening in productive ways” (PME, p. 238).
To conclude this section, please examine the following statement from Bowman’s wonderful point-counterpoint discussion about the pros and cons of teaching performing and listening in music education.
We are professionally obligated, as musician-educators, to strike and maintain an appropriate balance between performing and listening (two different kinds of musical performance), the productive and the receptive, activity and critical reflection, and to resist strenuously the kind of thinking that suggests highly desirable instructional options must mutually exclude each other. . . . a central and fundamental part of what we do as music educators and students of music is make music together. (PME, p. 163)