Press Release: Musical Experience in Our Lives Now Available from MENC

New Publication Explores the “Things We Learn and Meanings We Make” through Music

Musical Experience in Our Lives Now Available from MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Rowman & Littlefield Education

RESTON, VA (May 18, 2009)Musical Experience in Our Lives, a new publication by Jody L. Kerchner and Carlos R. Abril and published by MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Rowman & Littlefield Education, provides a wide-angle view of the multifaceted dimension of the musical experience, meaning, and learning, throughout the human lifespan.

The authors describe how people engage in musical experiences as they listen to, move to, sing, compose, and play music. These happen in formal learning settings, such as schools and rehearsal halls, but also in informal settings, such as homes and community centers. Musical experiences are fundamentally social and can teach people about themselves and their relationship to others. This book explores some of the many ways music is experienced and musical meaning is created from infancy through older adulthood. While vignettes, narratives, and cases form the primary focus of each chapter, the contributors of the book use extant research and theory to deepen understanding of a particular phenomenon, idea, or experience.

Chapters are written by 20 leading experts who examine music teaching and learning. They employ various qualitative research methodologies, including case study, narrative inquiry, oral history, and ethnography. Their contributions are readable, engaging, and refreshingly insightful.

Co-author Jody L. Kerchner is associate professor and director of music education at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she is the secondary school music and choral music education specialist. Her research focuses on music listening and cognitive processing, portfolio assessment, college-public school collaboration, and music teacher identity. She says, “Music plays so many roles in our lives, from those who create music to those who listen to music on iPods. Those who develop music pedagogy will learn from these collected experiences and trends, and can help shape the future of music education.”

“We want to get music educators to think beyond borders, all kinds of borders. What does it really mean in our lives? What, for example makes some students pack up their clarinet after 12th grade, and others continue to make music the rest of their lives?” says co-author Carlos R. Abril, assistant professor of music education at Northwestern University, where he teaches courses in general music, multiculturalism, and philosophy. His research focuses on the sociocultural dimensions of the music teaching and learning process, music perception, and the elementary music curriculum.

Bennett Reimer, John W. Beattie Professor of Music Education Emeritus, Northwestern University, says: “Kerchner and Abril’s Musical Experience in Our Lives takes us a giant step toward what the field of music education most needs to become: more real. In chapter after chapter by the assembled writers, the actual musical lives being lived by people at every stage, from early childhood through older adulthood, are portrayed thoughtfully and delightfully, demonstrating how rich and diverse those lives can be and how minimally related they are to traditional music programs in the schools. This is an indispensable book for all music educators, eye-opening, refreshing, mind-expanding, and hopeful for its encouragement of an invigorated profession.”

Musical Experience in Our Lives is available from RLE in clothbound for $39.95. MENC members receive a discount of 25%. To order or for more information, call 800-462-6420 or visit

MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. More than 142,000 members and supporters represent all levels of teaching from preschool to graduate school. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located in the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.