Start Date

31-5-2011 12:00 PM

End Date

31-5-2011 12:30 PM

Description

It strikes me that there are just two categories of “music” and “music learning.” In the first category, each “sells out,” as it were – one may also say reduces itself or is reduced – to a particular ideology, a trend in the market, a convention, a social theory, an educational idea, an apparent reality, a research result and so on. In the second category, music and music learning, in every moment of their practice and engagement – while, on the surface, they might appear to be following a particular convention or trend – in actuality have a self-critical sense of themselves that is kept vibrant and alive by their participants. That is, in the second category, music and music learning test and scrutinize themselves as they are tested and scrutinized. As a consequence, in this category, neither music nor the context in which it is learnt is ever merely a replication of a particular convention or trend but, in contrast, is the site in which that convention or trend is met – is re-evaluated and re-created as the living ground of human self-discovery. Simply put, whereas a learner in the first category might “like” (or “dislike”) Mozart or African drumming because she likes it (or dislikes it) – because she has blindly bought into a social/educational fad or her own “inclinations” that say it is “OK” (or not “OK”) – a learner in the second category self-critically articulates what it is she “likes” (or “dislikes”) about Mozart or African drumming. The focus of the latter student’s engagement has nothing to do with a pre-determined pre-ference, whether it springs from the familiarity of her “real” life or from the ideas of her “theoretical” education. Rather, the focus of her engagement has to do with her self-conscious questioning of her preference – a questioning that is enhanced by the music’s critical sense of its own preference for familiar or theoretical conventions. Importantly, the student’s questioning is not necessarily verbal – she can express her self-critical re-evaluation in her musical interpretation. But, whether verbal or non-verbal, what the student articulates both reveals and practices her self-critical thought, understanding, and consideration for how she engages music. Furthermore, her articulation amplifies her ability to share with both herself and with others what she finds interesting and meaningful, not only in music, but in the wider sphere of her existence. In short, as the student attends self-critically to the music, she attends self-critically to herself – to her integrity as a human being. In my paper I shall develop the concept of human integrity through Kant’s notions of human dignity and worth, Buber’s ideas of “meeting” and I-You, and the ideas of “truth” and “love” articulated by the character of Cordelia in Shakespeare’s play, King Lear. I shall expand on my own idea of self-critical engagement in music and in music learning, and I shall articulate how such engagement is related to these thinker’s ideas of human integrity – how music, far from being “an educational frivolity,” may be recognized as the practice and amplification of human becoming.


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May 31st, 12:00 PM May 31st, 12:30 PM

Musical Integrity and the Practice of Human Becoming

It strikes me that there are just two categories of “music” and “music learning.” In the first category, each “sells out,” as it were – one may also say reduces itself or is reduced – to a particular ideology, a trend in the market, a convention, a social theory, an educational idea, an apparent reality, a research result and so on. In the second category, music and music learning, in every moment of their practice and engagement – while, on the surface, they might appear to be following a particular convention or trend – in actuality have a self-critical sense of themselves that is kept vibrant and alive by their participants. That is, in the second category, music and music learning test and scrutinize themselves as they are tested and scrutinized. As a consequence, in this category, neither music nor the context in which it is learnt is ever merely a replication of a particular convention or trend but, in contrast, is the site in which that convention or trend is met – is re-evaluated and re-created as the living ground of human self-discovery. Simply put, whereas a learner in the first category might “like” (or “dislike”) Mozart or African drumming because she likes it (or dislikes it) – because she has blindly bought into a social/educational fad or her own “inclinations” that say it is “OK” (or not “OK”) – a learner in the second category self-critically articulates what it is she “likes” (or “dislikes”) about Mozart or African drumming. The focus of the latter student’s engagement has nothing to do with a pre-determined pre-ference, whether it springs from the familiarity of her “real” life or from the ideas of her “theoretical” education. Rather, the focus of her engagement has to do with her self-conscious questioning of her preference – a questioning that is enhanced by the music’s critical sense of its own preference for familiar or theoretical conventions. Importantly, the student’s questioning is not necessarily verbal – she can express her self-critical re-evaluation in her musical interpretation. But, whether verbal or non-verbal, what the student articulates both reveals and practices her self-critical thought, understanding, and consideration for how she engages music. Furthermore, her articulation amplifies her ability to share with both herself and with others what she finds interesting and meaningful, not only in music, but in the wider sphere of her existence. In short, as the student attends self-critically to the music, she attends self-critically to herself – to her integrity as a human being. In my paper I shall develop the concept of human integrity through Kant’s notions of human dignity and worth, Buber’s ideas of “meeting” and I-You, and the ideas of “truth” and “love” articulated by the character of Cordelia in Shakespeare’s play, King Lear. I shall expand on my own idea of self-critical engagement in music and in music learning, and I shall articulate how such engagement is related to these thinker’s ideas of human integrity – how music, far from being “an educational frivolity,” may be recognized as the practice and amplification of human becoming.