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Tertiary popular music education: Institutions, innovation and tradition

  • Carfoot, Gavin
  • Millard, Brad
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


This chapter examines how discourses of innovation and tradition play out in popular music education (PME) today. Drawing on comparative examples from the history of jazz education, we describe the ways that institutionalized music education tends to rely on genre-based models of pedagogical innovation, which in turn create binary oppositions between innovation and tradition. Like jazz education, PME has undergone an intense period of institutionalization—from the “street” to the “ivory tower”—where it has been defined in relation to the normative or traditional pedagogies of Western classical music (Nicholson 2005; Parkinson and Smith 2015). In contrast, we try to understand notions of innovation and tradition in more nuanced ways, in the hope of addressing some of the pedagogical pitfalls and crises that have faced jazz education; what Wilf has referred to as the paradoxes of institutionalized creativity (Wilf 2014) whereby jazz education has struggled to balance tradition and innovation (Kearns 2015). In particular, we suggest that the integration of PME in the tertiary environment can no longer be understood as innovative by default, or based on assumptions about musical genre (see Moir and Hails, Chapter 14 in this volume, for more discussion on this issue). Rather, we present a critical reading of the relationship between innovation and tradition, and how this might inform an “integrated” music pedagogy and educational practice in the twenty-first century, charting some of the challenges and opportunities that are presented by the rapid expansion of PME as a field of practice.

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