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Spirituality and Music Education

Perspectives from Three Continents


Edited By June Boyce-Tillman

This book is the product of a long journey by a company of academics and practitioners sharing a common interest, titled the Spirituality and Music Education Group (SAME). It started at the International Society for Music Education Conference in Bologna in 2008, with its first gathering in Birmingham in 2010. This book is a product of the various meetings of this group. Since the group formed, the notion of spirituality has been struggling to find a way through the dominant ideology of secularisation in the West to a place in a post-secularising world.

This book concentrates on examining this issue from the position of music educators on three continents. This process can be defined as both separate from as well as part of the dominant Christian and humanist traditions, whatever is appropriate in a particular culture. The book represents a fascinating array of lenses through which to examine the many and complex strands within the concept of spirituality.

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3 Awakening to the Spiritual in Children’s Development: Contemplating Anew the Landscapes of Music Education (Marie McCarthy)


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3 Awakening to the Spiritual in Children’s Development: Contemplating Anew the Landscapes of Music Education

The presence of the spiritual in children’s lives is a relatively recent addition to the study of child development. Due to the elusive nature of the spiritual, when researchers study the spiritual in children’s lives, they sometimes ask adults to recall memories of childhood experiences in order to gain insight into the phenomenon. Schoonmaker (2009) asked her participants to recall an early memory of a moment that they could name as spiritual. She offered an example to inspire participants:

In my recollection, I am at an informal evening worship service at church. I am almost 4 years old at the time. My mother and older brother are with me. A man plays the accordion, and as he pulls it open and shut, I listen to the unfamiliar sounds … I begin crying, and my mother leans over to ask me what is the matter. I recall being unable to tell her anything except that it is so pretty. (Schoonmaker 2009 p. 2721)

Recollections of spiritual moments are not always rooted in happy emotions or harmonious states. Another example comes from a discussion after a lecture I presented at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences Seminar (McCarthy 2012). A well-known Lithuanian education professor, Marija Barkauskaitė, recalled a memory from her days in primary school during the Nazi occupation in the early 1940s. The classroom...

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