Music Festivals as Community Learning and Development
Chapter 6. Critical Pedagogy of Aesthetic Systems
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CRITICAL PEDAGOGY OF AESTHETIC SYSTEMS
From the earliest theorizations of aesthetics and aesthetic education, the production of a “proper” subjectivity was key. Frederick Schiller (1795/1954) argued that by learning to understand beauty, the “handmaid of pure intellectual culture” (12), morality and consciousness develop. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Canadian music education was guided by this humanist philosophy of aesthetic education (Wasiak 2013, 29). It has since been argued that aesthetics has an overly narrow focus on the “musical work” (McCarthy and Goble 2002), does not include a multiplicity of musical practices (Regelski 1996), cannot be inclusive (Bowman 1993), and that “a truly musical experience is not aesthetic in its nature or value” (Elliot 1995, 125). Feeling that aesthetic education was too philosophical, critics have offered an action-based (or “praxial”) music education philosophy that is “thriving in music education circles despite wishful thinking to the contrary by its detractors” (Regelski 2011, 61). Heidi Westerlund (2003), however, while recognizing praxialism as a highly relevant approach, has suggested that “a reconstruction of the aesthetic may be possible without losing the important perspective of music as praxis” (46).
Unlike Westerlund, I do not think it is necessary or advisable to reach back to humanist aesthetics in music education while also disagreeing with ← 125 | 126 → Regelski (2011) that “aesthetic speculations and abstractions are simply not needed to account for music’s obvious affective appeal and for its manifold paraxial functions” (72). There is simply...
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