this paper uses ethnographic data from elementary school music classrooms to detail music education curriculum as it develops in practice. Compulsory music education in United States public schools is developed out of two ideal types, formal or relational pedagogy. The practice of each attunes a captive audience of novice students to a dominant classification of sound, vis-à-vis music. Here’s the abstract:
Sociologists argue that we learn evaluative skills, such as those to distinguish qualities of music, through practical knowledge. Yet sociologists have not asked how we understand those sonic events as musical in the first place. Through nine months of semi-structured observations in six elementary school music classrooms, I examine how music education draws symbolic boundaries around musical sound. I find that variations in curriculum produce different organizational practices in the classroom. These practices develop what is a basic sensory skill – listening – in very different ways. I identify four dimensions of teacher performance that support these differences: authorized sound-makers, constrained movement, enforced perspectives, and selected attention. These variations in music education produce contrasting performances for recognizing musical sound.