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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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14 Music in its Cultural Context: The Importance of Understanding the Spiritual Significance of the Music We Teach (Diana Harris)


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14 Music in its Cultural Context: The Importance of Understanding the Spiritual Significance of the Music We Teach


The purpose of this chapter is to help practitioners in the music classroom to understand the context and culture of the music they teach, since meaning is often inseparable from context. Much music from all parts of the world has its origins in religious practices. Here the intention is to look at some basic ideas about the relationship between religion, spirituality and music. In order to provide a context for this, the chapter will attempt to define spirituality, discuss the importance of spiritual identity and present a rationale for including the spiritual in music education. Although I have interviewed religious leaders from many different traditions to gain an initial insight into the relationship between spirituality and the music of their cultures, it has been necessary to limit the scope of this chapter. For this reason, some of the religious practices found in the Asian subcontinent will be examined. Alongside theoretical material, qualitative data will be presented from narrative and semi-structured interviews with religious leaders and practitioners in these traditions. These interviews were carried out over a period of four years and interviewees gave permission for their contributions to be published. They were given the choice of having their ideas attributed directly to them or remaining anonymous. In the latter case, names have been chosen for them. Some of the interviews...

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