The school classroom is a notorious site for the entanglement of conflicting and confusing musical meanings, values and experiences. Perhaps this is particularly so in relation to pupils' own music--the popular field--as against what they often refer to as old people's music--the classical field.
The notion of musical autonomy, or the idea that music's value rises somehow above mundane social and political considerations, is usually frowned upon nowadays. Music is a part of everyday life and its meanings and values must be understood in those terms. In this lecture, however, Lucy Green suggests that there is an aspect of musical experience which is, momentarily, virtually free from the musical meanings of everyday experience. This aspect, which crosses over musical divisions and affiliations, can be reached in the classroom, particularly through informal music learning practices drawn from the world of popular music. Current research suggests that through such practices, pupils can glimpse the possibility of re-conceiving not only popular, but classical music too, and by implication, any other music. Finally the concept of musical autonomy is linked to the personal autonomy and authenticity of the learner.
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Lucy Green is Professor of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.
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