A Critical Analysis of Bennett Reimer's Philosphy of Music Education

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


The study is a critical analysis of Reimer's expressionistic philosophy of music education. The purpose of the study is to determine the ontological nature of the ar-symbol which evolves out of Reimer's philosophy of music and music education. The result is a developmental and evaluative perspective regarding the contemporary music educator as the listener, the performer, and the composer.

This study traces inductively the origins of Reimer's philosophy to Benedetto Croce's concept of the expressionistic mind, John Dewey's concept of an art work, and Susanne K. Langer's concept of the art-symbol. reier synthesizes these origins into three basic concepts: creation, meaning, and experience. As both means and end of the study, the evaluator uses the art-symbol as the transcendent factor which underlies process in creation, consciousness in meaning, and being in experience.

The evaluator determines the strenght of Reimer's philosophy of the art-symbol in a series of eight statements in order to depict the nature of the creative idea in the musical phases of listening, performing, and composing:

1. Experience is creative when imagination is fostered and there is a resultant.

2. Experience is strengthened through study of the expressive qualities of an art work for its complicative value.

3. In the art-symbol with metaphorical value, experience gains in momentum and implies growth.

4. Understanding is a function of the self expressed in experience.

5. Learners (listeners, performers, and composers) are interdependent upon composers for an art work.

6. Learning is a process of experience and convergent though.

7. experience is central to the educative process.

8. Each experience is a summation of past experience and is close to the future.

The evaluator examines the ontological premises of process, consciousness, and being. These premises show the weaknesses of Reimer's concept of the art-symbol because he does not view it as reflecting experience, expressing consciousness, or having transcendent function.

From the study three conclusions are drawn by the evaluator for the music educator:

1. In the listening process, music is inseperable from the listener's economic, social, political, and spiritual being.

2. In the composing process, there is a need to re-examine traditional definitions of the elements of music to show the value of the art-symbol as the ontological basis of the philosophy of music and music education.

3. In the performing process, the performer is dependent upon the listener and the composer for human and musical value.

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