The search for meaning in music education: Reflections on difference and practice

Cuskelly, James (James Martin) (2007). The search for meaning in music education: Reflections on difference and practice PhD Thesis, School of Music, University of Queensland.

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Author Cuskelly, James (James Martin)
Thesis Title The search for meaning in music education: Reflections on difference and practice
School, Centre or Institute School of Music
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Nan Bahr
Dr Elizabeth Mackinlay
Total pages 286
Subjects 13 Education
Formatted abstract

This thesis investigates issues of meaning in music and the ways m which music education can be organised and delivered to maximise the experience of meaning for students. Two key questions are pursued within this thesis. Firstly, what is the nature of meaning in music, both as it is reported by educators and students, and evidenced in the literature? Secondly, in what ways can music education curriculum be organised to maximise this experience of meaning for students, specifically in the core areas of listening, composing and performing?           

In recognizing the various ways in which concepts of musical meaning are employed within music education and in an attempt to clarify and more accurately define what is intended when referring to meaning in music, three specific terms-signification, responsification and socialification-are suggested. The use of these terms also provides important points of reference throughout the discussion. Employing an autobiographical and phenomenological approach alongside a critical analysis of music education philosophies, this study investigates the lived experiences of teachers and students in terms of meaning in music. The inclusion of personal histories-my own and the stories of the students whom I teach-within the methodological framework provides a unique vehicle for the capture of data given the highly personalised nature of much of the material to hand. Further, a consideration of the lived experience of teachers and students in light of contemporary research and thinking serves to firmly anchor the discussion within the educational context.              

This research has found that issues of meaning are layered, multifaceted and interrelated, that there are numerous elements that contribute to meaning and that what is significant in music may be diverse, varying from individual to individual, from group to group. Musical meaning may be highly personalized and /or culturally delineated, and meaning in music may not remain static; it may vary across experiences or over time. This research has identified particular practices and approaches which significantly influence the development of meaning in music; such educative practices are worthy of sustained consideration by those within the field. 

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:52:32 EST