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Rebecca Carroll

Dr. Abrahams/ Critical Pedagogy II


Article Review I
10/28/15
Shevock, D. J. (2015). Satis Coleman--A Spiritual Philosophy for Music Education. Music
Educators Journal, 102(1), (56-61). doi: 10.1177/0027432115590182
So much of what makes music education relevant to children is the philosophy of the
educator. This does not necessarily dictate whether or not they should learn, or what is involved
in that curriculum, but what should motivate them to learn the material. A music educators
philosophy makes the content worthwhile, and purposeful. Clearly, philosophies will change
throughout the years as social norms change, and focus on religion, knowledge about existences,
and nature as an academic subject evolve. Satis Coleman was a teacher in the history of
American music education. She taught at the Teachers College at Columbia University. Her
music education philosophy employed a strict lens of distinct spirituality. This is potentially what
motivated her to explore the cultural paths that she did.
Author Daniel Shevock wrote a review of Satis Colemans practicing philosophy and
how it relates to much of what is practiced today. He points out that she has lots of similarities to
Orff and Dalcroze, and that even though her pedagogy came about before theirs, she did not get
the recognition that she deserved because she was a woman. He includes a definition of
spirituality by Parker Palmer, describing it as the eternal human yearning to be connected with
something larger than our own egos, and correlates this with Colemans view of the relationship
between music and God. Coleman felt that those who had not entered the world of the arts, and
experienced its tranquility and exhilarations (Coleman, 1939) could not possibly interpret

faith. Her view of education correlated this with her emphasis on creativity, world pedagogy and
experience, and that these experiences would create desires to pursue and create music for values
beyond impressing others (Shevock, 2015). She taught music as a spiritual art, and believed
that the art were employed to be a direct communication with the Unseen (Shevock, 2015).
These roots in Christian beliefs had her gear her philosophy towards humility and believed that a
wholesome, humble person without the use of exploitation is to be the most talented. This appeal
for humility also made more acute, her perceptions of the parent-teacher-student abuse of a
childs emotions towards music, and that the goal of this relationship should be to help the child
find joy and purpose in their work, not exploit their talents. In this article, Daniel Shevock
organizes his information by each key term of Colemans philosophy and contributes to it a
great lens of hindsight, and why her teaching was effective and necessary, and what her
innovations to the field meant to a child.
This is a clear example of spirituality used as an educational theoretical framework.
Coleman believed that music helped people connect to a higher power, and that was her main
motivation for bringing music into the world. Although this does have some similarities to
critical pedagogy. It aligns itself with the act of being musical as mentioned in Another
Perspective by Dr. Frank Abrahams, and focusing on music creativity involved in the act of
solving problems, fashioning products, or defining new questions (Abrahams). Coleman would
have students create their own instruments, and move from playing these more primal to
modern instruments. She believed in music evolution and lent this towards an experiential
learner and musical intellect (Abrahams) by teaching this through improvisation and
composition. They used their musical intellect to compose and improvise, and then transfer that

to their more complex instruments. Shevock also feels that it has relevant ties to current
education in the fact that her recommendations generally define good teaching, and should
provide todays music educators with an opportunity to make music teaching meaningful to
students AND teachers, supporting critical pedagogys concept that both student and teacher
should be transformed, because students come in with knowledge on any subject but especially
music (and defy the banking model).
Coleman thought about honoring the world from which the students came from and
believed that educators should consider how their ensembles can help or hinder (therefore, not
overwhelm the student with their too busy, modern schedules) their living simply, a trait she truly
believed inhabited positive spirituality. She also had an aversion to testing talent in music,
believing that it was not necessary to know exactly into what stage of the evolution of music a
child would fit (Shevock). She wanted to develop true interest and musicality in a child (a
concept that strongly agrees with critical pedagogy) instead of exploiting them for their talents.
She believed humility was actually required for talent to be present.
Satis Colemans style and motivation for teaching is truly inspiring. The only part of her
philosophy that is slightly disagreeable is her opinion on geographys relevancy to finding God.
She felt that modern living (especially in cities) hindered the silence in which one could feel
harmony (Shevock). Today the best symphonies and performance halls are in major cities.
Although these might not be the best musicians or most musical people, they are clearly
musically intelligent, so there is some discrepancy with music bringing people to God, but only
people who live in remote areas. This might just have been poorly communicated. She believed
that an education in general should compliment the spirit so that students can connect better.

Spiritual influences aside, she represents a holistic teacher, who taught according to her values,
and was an effective and creative.

Bibliography
Abrahams, Dr. Frank. "Another Perspective." Ebscohost.com. Music Educators
Journal, Sept. 2015. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.
Shevock, D. J. "Satis Coleman--A Spiritual Philosophy for Music Education."
Music Educators Journal 102.1 (2015): 56-61. Ebscohost.com. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.
Coleman, S. N. (1939). Your childs music. Google Books. John Day. Retrieved
from https://books.google.com/books?id=qocJAQAAMAAJ