Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Deron Boyles

Second Advisor

Dr. Philo Hutcheson

Third Advisor

Dr. Jodi Kaufmann

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Myers


In this dissertation I examine the discourse of music educators as it relates to musical aesthetics in the United States from the creation of the Music Supervisors’ Conference in 1907 to the year of the publication of Basic Concepts of Music Education: The Fifty-Seventh Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part 1 in 1958. The purpose of this dissertation is to show that philosophical discussion, especially in relation to musical aesthetics, was much more comprehensive than previously acknowledged. The conventional view that the arguments supporting music education were primarily utilitarian is a limited interpretation of the discourse prior to 1958. In actuality, arguments about music extended beyond its practical social, economic, and political utility. Additional aesthetic theories guided the field and girded ideas of musical understanding and informed instruction. A better understanding of the discourse of this period contributes to more informed conversations about musical aesthetics and its relation to music education. Utilizing philosophical analysis and archival research, I argue in this dissertation that the philosophical discourse relating to musical aesthetics was rich, varied, insightful, and pervasive. The evidence in this dissertation refutes the standard interpretation which eschews the possibility of discourse on aesthetics taking place prior to 1958. I show that there was deeper philosophical analysis than what is currently acknowledged by those who presently make the claim that what was intended to happen generally in the field of music education and during instruction was solely guided by utilitarian philosophy. In other words, it expands the current understanding of philosophical discourse relating to musical aesthetics in music education before the Music Education as Aesthetic Education movement that is argued to begin with the publication of Basic Concepts.