Toward a Scholarship of Music History Pedagogy: Historical Context, Current Trends, and Future Issues


The Editors



Perhaps the first question is, Do we really need a journal on music his­tory pedagogy?[1] In considering this question, the first issue of a journal devoted to music history teaching provides an opportunity to reflect upon pedagogy’s history within American musicology, to consider the current trends in the scholarship of music history teaching, and to propose an agenda for the further development of pedagogy as an area of research and study.

Musicology as practiced in the United States has traditionally not regarded teaching and pedagogy as scholarly pursuits worthy of professional considera­tion. In his 1941 Introduction to Musicology, Glen Haydon lists pedagogy as an “auxiliary science” and devotes a chapter to “Musical Pedagogy,” by which he meant music education.[2] Subsequently, most texts which have helped to frame or define musicology as a profession in the U.S. lack any reference to the idea that an important aspect of a musicologist’s job is to teach music history,[3] with the rare exception of Anne V. Hallmark’s “Teaching Music History in Different Environments,” in the collection Musicology in the 1980s: Methods, Goals, Opportunities.[4]

Although teaching need not be a part of the work day for musicologists who are independent scholars or researchers holding grants, the simple fact is that most music historians will spend much of their professional lives teaching music history to others, most often in a college or university setting. Teaching is an activity that is central to the work of most musicologists, and, by exten­sion, teaching is central to the work of musicology. Few beginning musicolo­gists have an opportunity to study pedagogy in their graduate work, as the vast majority of PhD programs in musicology in the U.S. do not offer classes on pedagogy.[5] The ability to succeed in a university position is increasingly dependent on good teaching in addition to a strong publication record. Musi­cologists are often asked to teach courses outside of our fields of research in which we have little or no scholarly expertise. In the same way, teaching music history is also the duty of many musicians who do not have extensive training in music history, but who are assigned to teach courses on music history, music appreciation, popular music, or world music.

While music historians currently enjoy a plethora of journals devoted to almost every taste and interest in scholarship, we have few outlets for reading research and reviews devoted to issues of teaching and pedagogy. Publications intended for teachers in primary and secondary schools, such as the Music Educators Journal, do not include articles applicable to college-level music history teaching. The College Music Symposium includes articles on all aspects of college-level pedagogy, but those devoted to music history teaching appear only sporadically. Individual journals on specific areas of musicology have sometimes published articles on the pedagogy of their area, such as Marcia J. Citron’s “Feminist Waves and Classical Music: Pedagogy, Performance, Re­search” in Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture (2004) or the issue devoted to pedagogy of the Journal of Popular Music Studies (2009), but these articles appear infrequently.

In addition to the articles that have appeared in currently published jour­nals, there is a growing interest in pedagogy as seen in published essay collec­tions such as Teaching Music History (edited by Mary Natvig)[6] and Vitalizing Music History Teaching (edited by James Briscoe).[7] There are also an increas­ing number of conferences and workshops on music history teaching such as those organized by the College Music Society and the annual Teaching Music History Day sponsored by the Pedagogy Study Group of the American Mus­icological Society. Musicologists are increasingly interested in scholarship on good teaching and the editors believe there is need in the discipline for a regu­larly published journal of both original research and reviews of textbooks and teaching materials related to music history pedagogy.

The Journal of Music History Pedagogy will be a forum in which teachers of music history of all levels (music appreciation, history survey, and graduate seminars) and disciplines (western, non-western, concert and popular musics) can find articles which will challenge and develop our own teaching philoso­phies, explore methodologies for specific courses, and review appropriate teaching materials. The editors believe that good teaching can be discussed and studied with the same incisive thinking, scholarly rigor, and individual insight that are the basis of all sound scholarship in music. We hold no single viewpoint on what constitutes good music history teaching and seek to pro­mote all types of scholarship on music history pedagogy that are well-researched, objective, and challenging. We encourage communications from readers of the Journal and will devote extensive space to continuing discussion on articles in following issues as submissions warrant. The Journal is also receptive to proposals for special issues from readers, particularly if accompa­nied by recommended contributors on the subject.

The success of the Journal of Music History Pedagogy will rest on those who care about good teaching in music history, who will read the articles and reviews in it, and who will also contribute their own best work to it. The edi­tors are committed to assist the growing interest in music history teaching in the pages of the Journal.


Journal of Music History Pedagogy, vol. 1, no 1, pp. 1–3. ISSN 2155-1099X (online)

© 2010, Journal of Music History Pedagogy, licensed under CC BY 3.0



[1]. To borrow from the opening essay of The Musical Quarterly, “Perhaps the first ques­tion is, Do we really need the word ‘musicology?’” Waldo S. Pratt, “On Behalf of Musicology,” The Musical Quarterly 1, no. 1 (January 1915): 1.

[2]. “Musical pedagogy, or music education, concerns the processes through which musical knowledge, skill, and insight are acquired.” His chapter includes discussions of such diverse topics as psychology, counterpoint, and teacher training. Glen Haydon, Introduction to Musicology, The Prentice-Hall Music Series (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1941), 186–215.

[3]. Among these texts may be cited Frank Ll. Harrison, Mantle Hood, and Claude V. Palisca, eds., Musicology, Humanistic Scholarship in America (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Pren­tice-Hall, 1963); Barry S. Brook, Edward O. D. Downes, and Sherman van Solkema, eds., Perspectives in Musicology (New York: Norton, 1971); Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985); Alastair Williams, Constructing Musicology (Aldershot, Hants and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2001); and Vincent Duckles, et al., “Musicology,” in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www. (accessed February 12, 2010).

[4]. Anne V. Hallmark, “Teaching Music History in Different Environments” in Musicology in the 1980s: Methods, Goals, Opportunities, edited by D. Kern Holoman and Claude V. Palisca (New York: Da Capo Press, 1982), 131–44.

[5]. In a recent survey of over 50 PhD-granting programs in musicology, of the 36 pro­grams that responded only eight stated that their program had a pedagogy class. C. Matthew Balensuela, “Report of the AMS Pedagogy Study Group and DePauw University Musicology Pedagogy Survey,” presented to the AMS Pedagogy Study Group, Nashville, TN, November 8, 2008.

[6]. Mary Natvig, ed., Teaching Music History (Aldershot, Hants and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002).

[7]. James Briscoe, ed., Vitalizing Music History Teaching, Monographs and Bibliographies in American Music 20 (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 2010).

ISSN 2155-109X