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Statement of Philosophy

Statement of Philosophy of Music Education

Our music programs espouse a view of music education which illuminates the intimate dance between performance and understanding. Musical mastery and musical sensitivity are interdependent and of equal priority, and their simultaneous expression should be the goal of music study at the college level.

A philosophy of music education must address the nature and value of music itself to rest on a firm foundation. Music, through its rhythms of tendency, inhibition, and arrival, is expressive of human feeling; in the words of philosopher Susanne Langer, "Music is a tonal analog of emotive life." The meaning of any piece of music, therefore, is found by going deeper into the musical qualities of the piece itself, such as melody, form, texture, and rhythm; not outside the work to programmatic titles and the like. Music's true value is thus available to all people through education of its aesthetic properties. Music's value lies in greater self-understanding, in objectifying the ambiguous world of feeling.

Bennett Reimer states that the goal of music education should be the development of aesthetic sensitivity; that is, the ability to perceive and react aesthetically to the expressive elements in a piece of music. Aesthetic perception and reaction are heightened dramatically by the interaction one has with music when studying, practicing, and performing it. In addition, the level of technical mastery to which one rises with a piece of great music is driven by the depth of one's understanding of its aesthetic properties. Technical mastery and aesthetic sensitivity thus nourish each other, creating in the musicians understanding and ownership of the piece that cannot be duplicated without performance.

The college music program must create this environment for three reasons: to give future music teachers a laboratory experience in aesthetic education which will carry over into their own teaching in the future, to serve as a cultural centerpiece and source of pride to the campus community, and to provide unforgettable aesthetic and artistic experiences for students.

The music programs at Rhode Island College are based on this philosophy.

Page last updated: November 22, 2011