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Every Child a Composer

Music Education in an Evolutionary Perspective

Nicholas Bannan

This book breaks new ground in drawing on evolutionary psychology in support of advocacy for music education, and the presentation of innovative musical pedagogy. The book adopts the perspective that musical experience is the birthright of all human beings through the decisive role it played in the evolution of our species, the traces of which we carry in our genes. The author draws on scientific developments in acoustics, neuroscience, linguistics, archaeology and anthropology to examine theories that have emerged powerfully during the last twenty years and which argue for the significance of the practice of music as foundational to human culture. This position is examined in parallel with research into how children learn musically, and the role that creative decision making plays in this. A series of strategies is presented that explores collective creativity which draws on vocalisation, the use of gesture, and instinctive responses to harmony to develop musical imagination.

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Chapter 26: Developing an integrated music curriculum that fully embraces creativity


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Developing an integrated music curriculum that fully embraces creativity

Through the games and collective pedagogy introduced in Part II of this book and the strategies for teaching composition and improvisation that build on these presented in Part III, the intention has been to illustrate the potential for creative musical learning to be at the heart of the curriculum. Technical work, ensemble participation, historical studies and other aspects of a balanced programme can support and feed off this approach. Where creative work in music is often seen as an add-on or a special activity reserved for the gifted or eccentric, or an approach suitable for younger children possessing a sell-by date that does not survive the transition into secondary education, it can revivify the curriculum and appeal to students in a manner that motivates, encourages and enlightens.

The intention, from the beginning, has been to enable students to become fully independent learners. The leadership opportunities that can be offered to even the youngest children in developing the collective participation of Harmony Signing set this in motion. We aim, as a consequence, to encourage students to pose to themselves the question: ‘What would I do?’ The resulting development of independent musical thinking has potential, both in its own right as a function of the musical medium, and as a template for education and growth more generally.

The social learning on which this depends develops trust and co-operation, teaching...

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