Music as a Manifestation of Life: Exploring Enactivism and the ‘Eastern Perspective’ for Music Education

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (PhD)
Final version published as: 

van der Schyff, D. (2015). Music as a manifestation of life: Exploring enactivism and the ‘eastern perspective’ for music education. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 345. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00345.

Date created: 
2015-03-27
Identifier: 
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00345
Keywords: 
Enaction
Embodied music cognition
Holistic music education
Buddhist psychology
Life philosophy
Music and language
Music perception
Music and culture
Abstract: 

The enactive approach to cognition is developed in the context of music and music education. I discuss how this embodied point of view affords a relational and bio-cultural perspective on music that decentres the Western focus on language, symbol and representation as the fundamental arbiters of meaning. I then explore how this ‘life-based’ approach to cognition and meaning-making offers a welcome alternative to standard Western academic approaches to music education. More specifically, I consider how the enactive perspective may aid in developing deeper ecological understandings of the transformative, extended and interpenetrative nature of the embodied musical mind; and thus help (re)connect students and teachers to the lived experience of their own learning and teaching. Following this, I examine related concepts associated with Buddhist psychology in order to develop possibilities for a contemplative music pedagogy. To conclude, I consider how an enactive-contemplative perspective may help students and teachers awaken to the possibilities of music education as ‘ontological education.’ That is, through a deeper understanding of ‘music as a manifestation of life’ rediscover their primordial nature as autopoietic and world-making creatures and thus engage more deeply with musicality as a means of forming richer and more compassionate relationships with their peers, their communities and the ‘natural’ and cultural worlds they inhabit.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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