Seeking the Significance of Music Education: Essays and Reflections






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Publication: The American Music Teacher
Author: Kramer, Ernest J
Date published: February 1, 2010

* Seeking the Significance of Music Education: Essays and Reflections, by Bennett Reimer. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2009. www. rowmanlittlefield.com; (800) 462-6420; 418 pp. $44.95.

This profound and thought-provoking book is composed of 24 carefully chosen essays representing the best of Bennett Reimers publications in music education. This tome, containing 411 pages, was distilled from the author's 150 articles. It is best suited for those individuals with a deep interest in music education and who teach at the university level. The essays are written in a scholarly fashion, although some of the later essays, such as "Merely Listening" and "The Way It Will Be," are sprinkled with subtle humor and satire. The reader should be prepared to encounter many complex concepts and issues. In some cases, the reader may have to read various passages several times to properly digest the contents.

The book is divided into three large sections. The first section is titled "Our Values as a School Subject" and deals with core values. The second is "Achieving Our Values;" it explores what and how to teach and how to educate teachers. The third is "Preserving and Enhancing Our Viability," a provocative series that deals with values for service in the future.

Although each essay deals with music education, Reimer often journeys far beyond the field of music to make his points. Remarkably, he is quite comfortable discussing Edelman's model of the brain, Newton's contributions to physics, Descartes's breakthroughs in reasoning, Copernicus's theories of planetary motion and Galileo's problems with the Catholic Church. Reimer's breadth of knowledge is especially apparent in those essays that explore such bold topics as the roots of inequity and injustice, the challenges facing modern educators, the darker side of human nature, the reasons for war, the inclusion and empowerment of women, the necessity of performing with understanding, and the pathways to improving doctoral programs in music education.

Reimers extensive knowledge of the literature is not surprising given that he is the John W. Beattie Professor of Music Education Emeritus at Northwestern University. He also served as chair of the Department of Education and director of the Study of Education and the Musical Experience. He has presented keynote speeches and workshops all over the world.

This book should be required reading for every student seeking a music education degree. Its major strength lies in the multitude of diverse topics that are crucial to the field. If there is a shortcoming, it is certainly minor: the absence of an index at the end of the book. - By Ernest J. Kramer, Northwest Missouri State University

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By Ernest J. Kramer, Northwest Missouri State University

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