De-sacralizing the European: music appreciation (then) and music listening (now)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Common approaches to teaching music listening emphasise ‘attentive listening’ and ‘active listening’ (Campbell, Patricia Shehan. 2005. “Deep Listening to the Musical World.” Music Educators Journal 92 (1): 30–36. doi:10.2307/3400224) and minimise explorations of everyday music listening practices (Madsen, Clifford, and John Geringer. 2001. “A Focus of Attention Model for Meaningful Listening.” Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education 1 (147): 103–108) The US music appreciation movement of the early twentieth century provides a window into the development of this state of affairs. Early on, movement advocates sacralized the music of the European classical tradition, hailing it intellectually, morally, and spiritually superior to other types of music–call this the ‘stylistic hierarchy.’ Later, textbook authors began sacralizing listener engagements instead of the music itself, e.g. ‘concert/attentive listening’ was deemed superior to ‘everyday/background listening.’ The rhetoric of the new ‘engagement hierarchy’ allowed authors to abandon explicit claims of European classical music's superiority. However, I argue that the engagement hierarchy actually maintains the superiority of the tradition and enables unwitting music educators to maintain its superiority even today. A complete de-sacralization of the European tradition thus requires music education professionals to dismantle both the ‘stylistic hierarchy’ and the ‘engagement hierarchy.’ I propose the incorporation of musical hermeneutics into the music classroom as one way to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-489
Number of pages10
JournalMusic Education Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018


  • Music education
  • music appreciation
  • music listening
  • praxialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


Dive into the research topics of 'De-sacralizing the European: music appreciation (then) and music listening (now)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this