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Jon Pinon

6/9/14

My Philosophy of Music
In our studies of music theory, our classes have ventured beyond its fundamental
components and have challenged the contemporary educational paradigm by taking more
of a look at the big picture. This has been accomplished not only by incorporating
activities such as ear training, critical listening, and writing, but by having lengthy
discussions regarding music appreciation, theory and the education thereof. Through this
we have gained an understanding of not only how music is made, but why it is made the
way it is. I, presumably along with the other students of music theory, have been able to
develop a musical philosophy of my own with distinct influence from my experience in
the class and the discourse we have partaken in. By developing such a philosophy, it is
possible for one to foster growth not only as a musician/artist, but as a person.
The basis of my personal music philosophy lies in sentiments conveyed by music
educator David Elliot in his book Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education.
According to Elliot, Music is not simply a collection of products or objects.
Fundamentally, music is something people do. As is the case with all forms of art, music
is simply part of who we are as a species. The best way to define it is organized sound;
the arrangement of sonic timbres and textures in ways that are meant to evoke some
instinctive reaction from the human mind. Whether it be a bluesman strumming on a
beat-up acoustic guitar and singing his troubles away, a jazzman passionately soloing
over the backing of his fellow bandmates or a DJ cranking up the bass on his track so that
clubbers can dance along to the beat, everyone has their own form of organized sound
that expresses their state of mind. Throughout the furthest reaches of human history, such
as with ancient African tribal drumming, and even among the most underprivileged
people on Earth, such as the thousands of Venezuelan children participating in the El
Sistema program, it always has been and always will be with us. Music is a highly

significant part of each of the various cultures on this planet, and much like the many
aspects of culture itself, it accounts for several different ways of achieving the same goal;
in this case, that goal is self-expression.
To foster such a humanistic view of music, one must learn to read between the
proverbial lines of notated theory and explore it on much deeper levels. Such is the
purpose of our journey together in these music theory classes and the establishment of a
well-rounded diet of music education that emphasizes philosophy as much as regular
theory. The teaching of theorys nuts and bolts is important as always, particularly
concepts such as the circle of fifths and part-writing. Other activities, however, should be
added into the mix in order to attain a substantial music education. Ear training and
critical listening both proved to be great ways of immersing ourselves in the many
properties of music, the former with the purpose of accustoming the mind to its basic
components and the latter with the purpose of dissecting how those basic components
come into play. What greatly factored in, though, is discourse among the teacher and the
students alike. By discussing topics such as general music, theory, music education
philosophy, and education globally, the class as a whole was able to collectively enhance
their comprehension of how this wonderful art form works and exactly how significant it
is.
To make use of this aforementioned well-rounded diet, however, would involve
challenging the traditional paradigms of education. As Estelle Jorgenson explained in her
book In Search of Music Education: Among its more glaring flaws, the somewhat
prescriptive, teacher-directed approach in musical training emphasizes a hierarchical
rather than egalitarian interrelationship between teacher and student, especially in cases
of rule-covered action. This rings true not only within the teaching of music across the
nation, but within the American education system in general. Teachers simply stand in
front of their class and lecture while permitting little input from the students themselves;
educators seem to have little regard for the process and only care about the product. The
holistic and dialectical approach to music education that was discussed shows distinct
contrast in comparison to this traditional approach as teachers state the concept and allow

the students to add their thoughts in order to create wholesome, constructive discourse.
Although this clashes with current education system, I believe it is necessary in order
students to receive a truly comprehensive study of music. By enabling this form of
communication between the teacher and students, all involved in the class will attain an
understanding of music that transcends the shallow paradigm set forth by the
standardization of schools. If this is allowed, a deeper appreciation of music will be
cultivated within the youth of our nation and they will begin to see it not as another
subject, but as a considerable aspect of human existence.

Works Cited
Elliott, David James. "Toward a New Philosophy." Music Matters: A New Philosophy of
Music Education. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. N. pag. Print.
Jorgensen, Estelle Ruth. In Search of Music Education. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1997. Print