What do we mean by meaning-making in music education?

Spruce, G.; Philpott, C.; Finney, J. and Cooke, C. (2022). What do we mean by meaning-making in music education? In: 29th European Association of Music in Schools Conference, 18-21 May 2022, Belgrade / Online..

URL: https://eas-music.org/2022-belgrade/


The theme of this conference, Music and meaning, is important and timely in the context of music education in Europe. In the United Kingdom the education policy agenda is currently dominated by a narrative of social realism and where disciplinary knowledge (concepts and skills) is seen as the most powerful knowledge. However, within recently published documents (DfE 2021 and Ofsted 2021), there are also faint traces of an alternative narrative related to meaning which, while hugely under exposed, is none the less present.

This symposium starts from the premise that the making of meaning is why we engage with music at all and as such knowledge of musical meaning is the most powerful knowledge. From this premise the symposium will aim to address the notion of meaning as powerful knowledge that is largely bypassed, not only in UK policy documents, but also it would seem in wider Europe.

The four papers will collectively, (a) outline what is at stake in the making of meaning for music education (including the scholarly heritage), (b) propose a critical imperative for the understanding of musical meaning in culture, society and education, and (c) exemplify this through an analysis of some pedagogical examples.

It will be argued that meaning is not peripheral and that by foregrounding meaning as the substance of music education it can be central to its aims. Perhaps such arguments are just beginning to bear some fruit in the world of policy in the UK and Europe.

This symposium will aim to provide a framework for a consideration of meaning in music education and some theoretical and practical snapshots by way of exemplification. It is hoped that this makes a contribution to the question ‘what do we mean by meaning in music education’ that will inform both policy and practice.

Department for Education (2021) Model Music Curriculum: Non-statutory guidance for the national curriculum in England, London: DfE

Ofsted (2021) Research review series: music Research review series: music - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) accessed 9/11/2021

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