How Popular Musicians Learn : A Way Ahead for Music Education book cover
1st Edition

How Popular Musicians Learn
A Way Ahead for Music Education

ISBN 9780754632269
Published June 9, 2017 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

Popular musicians acquire some or all of their skills and knowledge informally, outside school or university, and with little help from trained instrumental teachers. How do they go about this process? Despite the fact that popular music has recently entered formal music education, we have as yet a limited understanding of the learning practices adopted by its musicians. Nor do we know why so many popular musicians in the past turned away from music education, or how young popular musicians today are responding to it. Drawing on a series of interviews with musicians aged between fifteen and fifty, Lucy Green explores the nature of pop musicians' informal learning practices, attitudes and values, the extent to which these altered over the last forty years, and the experiences of the musicians in formal music education. Through a comparison of the characteristics of informal pop music learning with those of more formal music education, the book offers insights into how we might re-invigorate the musical involvement of the population. Could the creation of a teaching culture that recognizes and rewards aural imitation, improvisation and experimentation, as well as commitment and passion, encourage more people to make music? Since the hardback publication of this book in 2001, the author has explored many of its themes through practical work in school classrooms. Her follow-up book, Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy (2008) appears in the same Ashgate series.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Robert Fripp; What is it to be musically educated?: Research methods; Concluding thoughts; Skills, knowledge and self-conceptions of popular musicians: the beginnings and the ends: The ’beginnings’; Professional musicianship: the ’ends’; Some self-conceptions of popular musicians; Learning to play popular music: acquiring skills and knowledge: The overriding learning practice: listening and copying; Peer-directed learning and group learning; Acquiring technique; Practice; Acquiring knowledge of technicalities; Summary; Attitudes and values in learning to play popular music: Discipline and osmosis; Enjoyment; Valuing musicianship; Valuing oneself; Attitudes to ’other’ music; Summary; Popular musicians in traditional music education: Classical instrumental tuition; Traditional classroom music education; Summary; Popular musicians in the new music education: Popular music instrumental tuition; The new classroom music education; Popular music in further and higher education; The musician’s views of popular music in formal education; Summary; The formal and the informal: mutual reciprocity or a contradiction in terms?: The neglect of informal learning practices in formal music education; Informal learning practices, attitudes and values: their potential for the formal sphere; What can teachers do?; Appendix: summary profiles of the musicians; Bibliography; Index.

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Lucy Green is Professor of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. Her other books include Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy (2008); Music, Gender, Education (1997) and Music on Deaf Ears (1988).


’Dr Lucy Green's work deserves a wider readership than academics and music educators. How Popular Musicians Learn is inviting, accessible, and of direct practical interest to the working player in popular music, particularly those who also instruct students.’ Robert Fripp ’This is a significant and well-argued contribution, not only to the debate about the relationship between learning and teaching, but also to the understanding of the skills, motivations, and purposes that underlie popular music-making. Above all, it shows that 'love' of the music is the cornerstone on which all is built. We cannot engineer love in the classroom - but that is what we have to build on if we are really to reactivate music as the common participatory activity it once was.’ John Sloboda, University of Keele ’By looking at how popular musicians acquire their skills and knowledge, Lucy Green reveals important truths about music teaching and learning.’ Keith Swanwick, London University, Institute of Education '...[a] stimulating book...lucid analysis...thought-provoking.' Times Educational Supplement 'Lucy Green's latest book has been on the shelves for only a year or two, but already feels like a necessary part of music education literature... Returning to this book a year after I first read it, I have found new aspects of interest and value, as well as much which has quickly become familiar and helpful to educational discussion. Lucy Green has navigated the boundaries of academic disciplines and musical genres with great skill: I would recommend this book to any reader with an interest in musical learning...' Popular Music 'Lucy Green adds a valuable resource to the literature on music learning... a fascinating look at a musical world many classically trained musicians have not experienced. Green's ability to analyze and synthesize the data and her skillful writing allow the reader to better understand the motivation and learning habits of popular musicians...