In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Music Education

  • Introduction
  • Brain Development
  • Spatial Reasoning
  • Cost of Research to Learning

Education Music Education
Deborah Macfarlan Enright
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 December 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0027


Music education refers to the dynamic discipline with the ability to uncover the next Mozart, develop spatial knowledge within the brain, improve the acquisition of language skills, and appreciate ancient civilizations while providing an understanding of current ones. It is the field of study dedicated to the teaching and learning of music. This area of education casts a wide net among the learning public from the youngest infant to seniors. The discipline is disseminated through a variety of portals, including the traditional classroom and the entrepreneurial private music teacher, to the composer, the symphony conductor, the cognitive scientist, and the education policy analyst. Music education extends beyond the image of the instructor with the Orff instruments patiently teaching time signatures to elementary-aged children, or the middle school band leader bearing up under the sounds of the novice trumpet player, or the AP American history teacher explaining that today’s hip-hop can be traced back to the spirituals, jazz standards, and musical theater of the 19th and 20th centuries. The field is eclectic, layered, and expanding in its reach. The child helped by his teacher to find middle C on his or her instrument at once impacts that instructor’s practice and provides evidence for the neuroscientist studying brain development and its connection to music instruction and performance. As the field has grown, so has its prominence in guiding policy and practice in our schools. The purpose of this bibliography is to begin to compile a listing of the literature necessary for the bookshelf of an aspiring music educator or music education policy analyst. The citations included will help the practitioner and those involved in research to become familiar with the literature of music education. The works included were selected due to their comprehensive scope and their enduring significance to those seeking a better understanding of the impact music education has on our children and our culture. This bibliography concentrates on three areas of interest: music education and brain development, music education’s impact on supporting the core curriculum subjects for students, and music education as an issue of education policy.

Foundational Sources

The following foundational sources provide a basis from which the teacher or the researcher can acquire a well-balanced introduction to the broad field of music education. Grounding one’s research through a broad understanding of the field makes for more successful subsequent inquiry of a narrower scope. From situating the field in a context of why music education is a necessary component of curriculum through to the specific gains garnered by exposure to music in the classroom for educators as well as for a child’s cognitive development, these subsections yield a deeper offering of resources for research or professional development. Foundations of Music Education (Abeles, et al. 1994, cited under Instruction) links together the seemingly separate worlds of theory and practice in music education. A collective effort, therefore, is necessary to shore up all of the foundational supports in the study of this fascinating discipline. Frames of the Mind and How People Learn (Gardner 2011 and Bransford 2000, both cited under Cognitive Development) offer the expanding neuroscience component to music education. Scholars in this area of research continue to uncover information that will certainly alter the notion and status of music education practice. The final listing ties all of the aforementioned topics together in its wide-ranging scope of offerings and accessible delivery of content.

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