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Critical Issues in Music Education

Contemporary Theory and Practice

Second Edition

Harold F. Abeles and Lori A. Custodero

Publication Date - 08 October 2021

ISBN: 9780197533956

400 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The most up-to-date, inclusive, and comprehensive introduction to the issues and theories of music education.


Critical Issues in Music Education: Contemporary Theory and Practice provides a current introduction to key issues facing music educators. Designed as the main text for a Music Education Theory course or as a supplement for introductory courses on Music Education and Music Education Methods, this text presents a series of essays, written by key leaders in the field, each focusing on a single issue. It provides the most up-to-date, inclusive, and comprehensive introduction of any text on the market.

Most of undergraduate music teacher education focuses on developing the skills and understandings necessary to become a practitioner. The updated second edition links theory and practice, offering multiple perspectives so that music teachers are prepared as well-rounded professionals, better equipped to develop into leaders in the field. Rather than focusing on answering, "What to do" questions, Critical Issues in Music Education focuses on addressing "Why" questions, through examining underpinnings for the field and encouraging teacher inquiry.

New to this Edition

  • An expanded and updated examination of the political and social contexts within which music education functions as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century
  • Updated sections on the Common Core Music Standards, Model Cornerstone assessments, STEAM education, and Popular Music Instruction
  • Applications of recent neuroscience findings to cognitive and creative processing as applied to music learning and development
  • A completely new and updated chapter on Music Education Technology
  • · An expanded analysis considering the roles of cultural responsiveness, inclusion, diversity, and equity and how they affect social justice and democratic principles in music education


  • Presents a comprehensive examination of disciplines that provide the intellectual foundation for music education
  • Grounded in contemporary educational theory and practice, and informed by work in the field with both music teachers and students
  • Fourteen essays by key leaders in the field who are experienced, active, and progressive music educators
  • Discussion questions, suggested class activities and projects, and supplemental readings end each chapter and further engage students

About the Author(s)

Dr. Harold F. Abeles is Professor of Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where he serves as the Co-director of the Center for Arts Education Research.

Dr. Lori Custodero is Associate Professor of Music and Music Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1 The Historical Contexts of Music Education
    Harold F. Abeles
    Music Education in the First Half of the 20th Century
    Federal Education Policy and Music Education: 1950 to Present
    Equity Issues in Music Education: 1950 to Present
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 2 Music as Sociocultural Phenomenon: Interactions with Music Education
    Roberta Lamb and Joseph Michael Abramo
    Sociology in Education, Music, and Music Education
    Formalism: Functionalist and Rationalized
    Conflict Theory: Marxism, Critical theory, the Frankfurt School, and Critical Pedagogy
    Symbolic Interactionism in Music Education
    Social Justice: Interactions with Webs of Difference
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 3 Philosophical Perspectives of Music Education
    Randall Everett Allsup
    "First Teachers"- Confucius and Socrates
    Aesthetic Philosophy
    Transitional Moments and the Struggles for Diversity
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 4 Meaning and Experience: The Musical Learner
    Lori A. Custodero
    Musical Meaning and Embodiment
    Processing Musical Experience: Cognitive Structures and Connections
    Musical Meaning and the Contexts for Learning
    The "Creating" Mind: Making Meaning Through Making Music
    Between Cognition and Creativity: Motivation and Flow Experience
    Meaningful Engagement in Music Teaching and Learning
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 5 The Learner in Community
    Patricia A. St. John
    The Community of Learners
    Learning Strategies in Community
    Communities of Music Learning
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 6 Music Learning and Musical Development
    Lori A. Custodero
    Key Issues in Musical Development
    General Theories of Development and Musical Applications
    Pathways and Patterns of Musical Development
    Developmental Characteristics of Music Learners
    Summary: On Being and Becoming Musical
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 7 Curriculum
    Cathy Benedict
    Scientific and Technical Rationality
    Curriculum Reconceptualized
    "Multicultural" Curriculum
    Some Concluding Remarks
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 8 Assessing Music Learning and Teaching
    Harold F. Abeles and Kelly A. Parkes
    Characteristics of Assessment Tools
    Assessing the Outcomes of Music Instruction
    Alternative Approaches to the Assessment of the Outcomes of Music Instruction
    Standardized Testing in Music
    State and National Assessments of Achievement in Music Education
    Evaluating Teachers and Their Music Programs
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 9 Methods and Approaches
    Cathy Benedict
    What is a Method?
    Emile Jacques-Dalcroze
    Zoltán Kodály
    Carl Orff
    Shinichi Suzuki
    Edwin Gordon
    General Issues and Lingering Thoughts
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 10 Choosing Music Literature
    Randall Everett Allsup and Eric Shieh
    The Problems of Tradition
    The Challenges of Change
    Teacher Freedom
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 11 Music Education Technology
    James Frankel
    Chapter Overview
    Teaching and Learning Music in a Connected Classroom
    Integration Strategies
    New Learning Environments
    Equity, Access & Inclusion
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 12 Preservice Music Teacher Education
    Colleen Conway
    Research and Scholarship
    Policy and Music Teacher Education
    Recruitment of Music Education Majors into the Preservice Program
    Adaptive Expertise
    Teaching as an "Impossible Profession"
    Undergraduate Student Development
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 13 The Inquiring Music Teacher
    Harold F. Abeles and Colleen Conway
    Sources of Research in Music Education
    Approaches to Research Methods
    Quantitative Approaches to Research
    Historical Research
    Qualitative Research
    Suggested Readings

    Chapter 14 The Career of the Music Teacher: Support, Growth, and Leadership
    Colleen Conway, Chris Marra, and Jessica Vaughan Marra
    Suggested Readings


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