This article looks at critical theory as a post-modern philosophical foundation for a sixth grade general music curriculum. The author reviews the literature on critical theory, discussing the origins of the theory in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1920s and traces the applications critical theory finds in American schools of the current era. The author suggests that critical theory is appropriate for music education as it empowers musicianship and enables music teachers to connect the music children experience in school with the music they hear outside. The author describes how critical theory may inform and transform the development of a sixth grade general music curriculum by connecting the music of contemporary popular culture with the goals and objectives of general music in the middle school. Specifically, the critical theory framework provided opportunities for the music teacher to address individual aptitudes and potentials, individual learning styles and a variety of teaching styles. The study confirmed research which showed that students were capable of learning on their own and that they retained knowledge when their learning was grounded in personal experience. Music education is an ideal subject in which individuals can examine their own traditions and practices, and in this way becomes independent, reflective and critical. Music education, if it is going to be liberating, calls for an analysis of present traditions and practices. If educators are not reflective and analytical, they limit students to reproducing what has come before. On the other hand, creative experiences and outcomes are boundless when music teachers realize that they are able to analyze and adapt, manipulating the curriculum in an unlimited number of ways. The purpose of this article is to report on applications of critical theory as the philosophical foundations of a sixth grade music curriculum in a middle school music classroom in Princeton, New Jersey. The article is in two sections. The first places the study in the context of critical theory and reviews the contributions of the postmodernists who developed that philosophy. In this section we also explore the literature on critical theory in schools and applied specifically to music education. Then, the article discusses critical theory as it was applied in the sixth grade general music curriculum at a middle school in Princeton, New Jersey.
"The Application of Critical Theory to a Sixth Grade General Music Class,"
Visions of Research in Music Education: Vol. 4, Article 12.
Available at: https://opencommons.uconn.edu/vrme/vol4/iss1/12