Praxial music education: A critical analysis of critical commentaries

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Journal / Book Title

International Journal of Music Education


Since its publication in 1995, a significant literature has developed around David J. Elliott’s praxial philosophy of music education, as explained in Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education. This literature includes a range of commentaries in journals, books, edited books, and dissertations. Although Elliott has replied to some positive and negative commentaries since 1995, he has not addressed several adverse discussions by leading music education philosophers. Accordingly, we posit that there is an important gap in music education’s philosophical discourse that may cause some music education students and researchers to accept or reject important criticisms of Elliott’s praxialism without sufficient information or reflection.

In this article we analyze several critiques of Elliott’s praxialism. Our discussion divides into three sections related to major topics presented in the praxial philosophy particularly and music education generally: music making, music listening and musical works, and musical values. Each section presents (a) critics’ evaluations of Elliott’s position on a given topic, and (b) Elliott’s stated position on that topic, as explained in Music Matters. Where pertinent, we consult the views of other scholars on specific topics. We end each section with brief reflections on critics’ claims, reserving our final evaluations for the concluding section.



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Published Citation

Silverman, Marissa, Susan A. Davis, and David J. Elliott. 201 3. “Praxial Music Education: A Critical Analysis of Critical Commentaries.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MUSIC EDUCATION 32 (1): 53–69. doi:10.1177/0255761413488709.