Ecomusicality: An ecological pedagogy of music

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Mitigating the impact of human activities on the environment is among the most pressing issues in modern society. As such, environmental education has become an interdisciplinary concern among many educators beyond their disciplinary boundaries. A main question I explore in this paper is how music and environmental education coexist and support each other. The nexus of music education and environmental education may promote much more than singing nature songs (Forgaty, 1996). Shevock (2015) argues that music can be a medium to enhance students’ eco-literacy. I argue that music education should take one step further by placing what I would call “ecomusicality” at the center of its pedagogy. This task involves aligning the epistemologies of music and environmental education. Although the mission of music education is not the same as that of environmental education, educators have to ensure that the two are not against each other. This paper draws on the ecomusicology framework (Allen, 2013; Guy 2009; Pedelty, 2012; Tilton, 2013). Two issues of ecomusicological studies are particularly relevant to the present inquiry. First, the discussion of material systems. Pedelty (2012) argues that ecomusical inquiry involves critique of material systems, including material economy, as well as the realm of aesthetics and meaning. No ecological analysis is complete without consideration of the material world (p. 11). Musical instruments are central to the material system of music, and thus the focus of the present paper. Second, relational epistemology is proposed in ecomusicology as a way to put forward a more sustainable concept of nature, music, and the environment. Tilton (2013) argues that, “The problem of music and sustainability is not only a problem of politics but also of knowledge. It is an epistemological problem” (p. 8). Ecomusical researchers thus focus on a reliance on interconnectedness, interdependence, and relationships of ecosystems in which music plays a significant role. The paper aims to provide an ecocritical critique of music education by first reviewing the underlying assumption of music education. In particular, I address three problems to overcome, among many factors that hinder the alignment of music and environmental education. Then, using an indigenous music model, I propose eco-musicality as an ecological pedagogy of music.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Event11th Asia-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research: Music Education Transcending Borders - The Historical City of Melaka, Melaka, Malaysia
Duration: 19 Jul 201721 Jul 2017


Conference11th Asia-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research: Music Education Transcending Borders
Abbreviated titleAPSMER 2017


Matsunobu, K. (2017, July). Ecomusicality: An ecological pedagogy of music. Paper presented at the 11th Asia-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research (APSMER 2017): Music Education Transcending Borders, The Historical City of Melaka, Melaka, Malaysia.


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