Social Theory for Music Education: Symbolic Interactionism in Music Learning and Teaching

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This book employs the lens of interactionism to explore and explain the field of music education as an empowering area of professional pursuit. Personal vignettes, stories by others, and relevant scholarly literature from several fields are used to demonstrate how awareness of the symbolizing power behind communicative acts of teaching, learning, performing, writing, conducting research (or doing all of the above) can turn interactions that may be perceived as communicative barriers into opportunities for pro-active discourse.


“Hildegard has conducted many studies about the same question: interacting goals, needs, visions, and commitments of teachers, students, and schools within the contexts of country, region, and social orders across assumptions of different music and methods of learning and teaching. In short, how do all of these come together for effective music teaching? This is the problem so admirably discussed and developed in this book, which, as we might expect from Hildegard, yields yet more questions and suggestive conversations…”
-Harold E. Fiske,
Professor Emeritus,
University of Western Ontario, Canada

“Framing this book is Froehlich’s interactionist social theory for music education, which brings together the ideas of Christopher Small, David Elliott, and Basil Bernstein to suggest that music(k)ing is a communicative act; that all music(k) ers involved in that act are dialogic learners with a stake in the process, and that every act of music(l)ing is a re-contextualization of musical knowledge.”
-Carol Frierson-Campbell, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Education,
William Paterson University

“Froehlich offers a thought-provoking discussion of symbolic interactionism… an important book for any reader concerned about the role(s) of music education in society. An exciting contribution to music education literature.”
–Frank Abrahams,
Professor of Music Education,
Westminster Choir College of Rider University

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Foreword by Harold Fiske
1. Exposition: Why This Book Was Written
Rationale, Purpose, and Guiding Questions
Method, Challenges, and Limitations
Chapter by Chapter Overview
2. “C. Small, B. Bernstein, R. Scruton, and a Platypus Walked into a Bar…” Questions Facing Music Education
My Story as a Music Educator
An Unlikely Conversation among Three Culture Critics
The Field of Music Education as Multifaceted Habitats
3. Interactionist Constructs and Suggested Corollaries for Music Learning and Teaching
Selected Past and Present Philosophers and Sociologists on Symbolic Interactionism
Key Constructs
Musicianship and Educatorship Revisited
4. A Close-up View of Music(k)ing in School and Community
Musicking and Musicing: What’s in a ‘(k)’?
Music(k)ers and Their Interactions
5. A Close-up View of Knowledge Re-contextualization in Pedagogic Discourse and Beyond
Basil Bernstein’s Construct of Knowledge Re-contextualization in Formal Schooling
Case in Point: Didaktik/Didáktika/Didactique/Dydaktyka/Didaktika
Application to Music Learning and Teaching
6. Arts Advocacy: Toward a Common Purpose of Public Outreach
Music Educators “Going Public” as Arts Advocates
Policy Analysis: A Lesson from a Political Scientist
Accepting Artistic Values and Musical Taste as
Identifiers of Special Interest Groups –
Including Our Own
Challenges in the Looking Glass of Interactionism
7. Music(k)ers as Lifelong Stakeholders: Outreach Beyond Advocacy
Tools for Consensus building among Stakeholders in Music Learning and Teaching
Outreach as a lifelong Learning Process
8. Music Educator: What’s in a Name?
The Power of Labeling
Key Research about Music Teaching as a Source of identity: A Summary Review
Four Instructional Models in Music Teaching
9. Interactionism, the Platypus, and Hippocrates Meet in Teaching Scholarship
Revisiting the Purpose and Questions: A Recapitulation and Moving Beyond Teaching Scholarship and Another Action Ideal
Interactionism in a Metamodernist Worldview
Music(k)ing Educators Uniting in a Common Oath of Conduct
Appendix A: Major Contributors to Interactionist Thoughts Expressed in This Book
Appendix B: Selected Research on Interactive Relationships among Musicians
Appendix C: The Place of Knowledge Re-contextualization of Basil Bernstein’s Theory of Pedagogic Discourse: A Summary
Appendix D: Federal Arts Policies since the 1960s:
A Brief Review and Analysis
Appendix E: About Q Methodology for Research on Audience and Clienteles
Appendix F: Selected Research on the Occupational Identity/ (Construction/Development) of Musician-teachers and Professional Music Makers Who Teach
Appendix G: Hippocratic Oath- Modern Version

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