Music, Leisure, Education: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

PDF Music, Leisure, Education: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives 31st Mar 2022

Book author
  1. Roger Mantie
1653147523 music leisure


This book explores historical and philosophical connections between music, leisure, and education. Specifically, it considers how music learning, teaching, and participation can be reconceptualized in terms of leisure. Taking as its starting point "the art of living" and the ethical question of how one should live, the book engages a wide range of scholarship to problematize the place of non-professional music-making in historical and contemporary (Western) conceptions of the good life and the common good. Part I provides a general background on music education, school music, the work ethic, leisure studies, recreation, play, and conduct. Part II focuses on two significant currents of thought and activity during the Progressive Era in the United States, the settlement movement and the recreation movement. The examination demonstrates how societal concerns over conduct (the "threat of leisure") and differing views on the purpose of music learning and teaching led to a fracturing between those espousing generalist and specialist positions. The four chapters of Part III take readers through considerations of happiness (eudaimonia) and the good life, issues of work-life balance and the play spirit, leisure satisfaction in relation to consumerism, individualism, and the common good, and finally, parenting logics in relation to extracurriculars, music learning, and serious leisure.


To be overly dramatic, I could claim that this book has been a lifetime in the making. In a more direct sense, it has been about ten or eleven years—a length of time that would surely test the patience of many a publisher and editor. Fortunately for me, I had Norm Hirschy on my side. The importance of Norm’s patience and guidance cannot be overstated. Attempting to complete a project of this size while changing institutions (Boston University to Arizona State University to University of Toronto) was stressful but made manageable thanks to Norm’s support and understanding.

And then there is the support and understanding of family. I began this project (more or less) when my daughters Adeline and Ellamay were two and seven. They have never known a time when their father was not working on his book. My wife Angela does remember a time before the book, but she (along with my mother and my in-laws) probably cannot recall a time when I wasn’t working on some “important” project or other, whether it be running an educational jazz festival, working as a semi-professional musician in addition to my school teaching job, completing my master’s thesis while teaching full-time, pursuing doctoral studies, or researching article after article as an aspiring professor. She reminded me constantly of the irony of me writing a book on leisure. All this is to say that my family has paid a heavy price for my scholarly pursuits. The only defense for my familial neglect is that, at the risk of possible conceit, I would like to think I have become a better husband and father as the result of this project, and that what I have lacked in time devotion I have made up for in other ways (though I cannot be the judge of that).

Beyond those who have patiently endured and supported my slow, self-indulgent passion for wanting to write on music, leisure, and education are those responsible for inspiring the content and ideas in this book. As academics, we are all heir to various intellectual lineages. As an alumnus of Brandon University, a small (in global terms, very small) undergraduate school on the Canadian prairies, I would only later come to realize how fortunate I was to have been so thoroughly immersed in a world of ideas not usually included in many undergraduate music programs. While my grasp of the complex ideas to which I was exposed may have been (and still is) somewhat limited, those complex ideas provided a critical backdrop against which my experiences as a school music teacher were understood—experiences that ultimately led to the decision to pursue graduate studies. At the University of Toronto, I was similarly fortunate xvi Acknowledgments to have been exposed to ideas and thinkers I would subsequently learn are not always encountered in PhD studies in music education. My academic journey has been a blessed one thanks to the care, concern, and intellectual rigor of so many teachers and professors who were able to overlook my many shortcomings and see potential beyond my lack of training, pedigree, and cultural capital.

In addition to my mentors have been the many kind, generous, and supportive colleagues and students I have had the pleasure of working with over the years, both directly at Boston University, Arizona State University, and University of Toronto, and indirectly through many collaborations and interactions. Helping to produce two Oxford handbooks, for example, delayed the completion of this book by many years, but afforded me the opportunity to work alongside two amazing co-editors, Gareth Dylan Smith (Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure) and S. Alex Ruthmann (Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education), and the opportunity to interact with dozens of contributing authors from various parts of the globe. It is impossible to quantify the impact all these people have had on me and my thinking. It is also difficult to quantify the impact Stephanie Pitts has had on my thinking. Although she is cited less often in this book than she should be and our interactions are less frequent than I would like, her work has impacted my thinking immeasurably.

I have always been reluctant to directly name people in giving thanks for fear of omitting some. It is so difficult to create a cut-point, given the wide-ranging generosity from which I have benefited. Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I did not single out a few names. Lee Higgins and I were both hired at Boston University in 2009. This began a friendship that has witnessed squash games, heavy metal concerts, shared challenges of international living, and countless intellectual (and non-intellectual) discussions, usually over a few pints. Lee’s influence and impact on my thinking (and on my life) cannot be overstated. Neither can the influence of the late Susan Conkling, whose intelligence, care, and compassion have inspired countless students and colleagues. Among many other things, Susan helped to show me that it was possible to have a life in academia without losing one’s soul. It is no overstatement to say that I would not have survived at Boston University if it were not for Susan. Although she may no longer be with us, I am reminded of her every week because she introduced me to my long-running collaborator, Brent Talbot, with whom I shared a regular video chat and writing session for the better part of the past ten years. Brent’s influence has been more oblique, but no less important. That our co-authored book (Education, Music, and the Lives of Undergraduates: Collegiate A Cappella and the Pursuit of Happiness) was written in tandem with this book no doubt slowed the progress of both projects but, in my opinion, made both of them significantly stronger. Lastly, my thinking continued to evolve while at Arizona State thanks Acknowledgments xvii to the friendship of the inimitable Evan Tobias, whose energy, passion, and brilliance (and shared love of beer flights) were both inspiring and intimidating.

One’s learning, ideas, and influences are not the sole province of academics, of course. The leisurely gatherings over the years with Mark and Shelly, Julian and C.J., Lynn and Tim, Lee and Michelle, Susan and Tim, Julian and Peter, Heather and Jason, Evan and Jen, Gayle and David, and many others have enriched life’s journey immeasurably and made it so enjoyable along the way—as did the many “pre-academic” relationships with countless friends and colleagues in Manitoba.

And finally, I extend my thanks not only to the anonymous reviewers for their excellent and spot-on commentary that led to marked improvements in the text, but also to Seth Adams, Mallory Alekna, Cathy Benedict, Deb Bradley, Lee Higgins, Tim Nowak, Jared O’Leary, Joe Pignato, Bryan Powell, Jesse Rathgeber, Gareth Dylan Smith, Brent Talbot, and Matt Warner. These generous individuals were kind enough to make time in their lives to read early drafts of various chapters in this book. Their thoughtful and insightful feedback has strengthened the book tremendously. The responsibility for failing to adequately address their comments and concerns rests solely with me.
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