On the Lives and Education of Children
Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio
Chapter Twelve: Music Education, Character Development, and Advocacy: The Philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki
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Music Education, Character Development, AND Advocacy
The Philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki
KARIN S. HENDRICKS
For decades, music educators have attempted to advocate their place in public schooling amidst cutbacks in funding and frequent neglect in curricular priority. Presently in United States schools, music and other arts classes are sometimes viewed as “frill” or “extracurricular” subjects, and they are often provided with less funding, attention, and/or support than subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math (see Catterall, 2009; Holcomb, 2007; Kratus, 2007; West, 2012). In response, many music advocates in the U.S. and elsewhere have proposed that school music might benefit children in a variety of ways beyond the obvious development of musicianship, including through academic achievements as well as the development of prosocial behaviors (see Catterall, 2009; Gates, 2006; Hallam, 2006; Leonhard, 1985; Madsen, 2006).
One difficulty with this claim, however, is that music educators often differ about just how music can benefit a child. For instance, some educators rush to report “Mozart Effect” studies in order to declare that music study makes students smarter in non-musical ways (Rauscher & Shaw, 1998; Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky, 1993, 1995). Others, however, suggest that such an advocacy tactic does more harm than good by formally placing music in a mere supportive role to other disciplines—or by causing music educators to make promises that they may not actually be able to deliver (Bowman, 2006;...
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