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Prof. Emily Akuno
ISME President
Keynote Speaker


More Music? The Education of the Senses - A Music Education Promise

Keynote abstract for MusEd’21

The music teacher is often confronted with decisions on what to tell parents who want to know the career prospects for their children who want to study music. The past 18 months have proved either more challenging or rewarding for music education, depending on whether one looked at it from a business perspective, or from a more fundamental position that regards music (and the arts) as tools and avenues for ‘putting life into people’s living’, a way of engaging the core of the human being, his/her psychological, social and emotional self.

In Kenya, the social and socializing role of music in the community continue to provide a rationale for learners’ engagement with the subject in and out of school. This presentation interrogates the promise of music from accounts of its impact on the individual and narratives of life-transforming experiences. Using selected music ensemble sessions and individual instrumental/voice tuition as cases, the paper analyses learners’ and teachers’ accounts for elements of music’s role in restoring their sense of equilibrium and normalcy. The subjective findings are discussed against the concept of music as a communal-participatory event through which the individual develops resilience and experiences emotional release on account of the support afforded by the group activity and from the act of musicking in a traditional music making context. In this regard, music education is articulated as a transformative experience, with the paper advocating for more music in people’s menu of activities towards the training of the senses.