What is it about?

John Dewey is one of the most-cited philosophers by those working in music education, yet he believed he was unmusical. In this article, I document the evidence for his belief, then scour his writings, correspondence, and lectures to make the case that there is a "musical Dewey" worth understanding. I also talk about his support for music education, particularly in his work to keep music in the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, which he lead until 1904. Finally, I discuss reasons to move from considering people "unmusical" to embracing an idea that all humans have inherent musicality.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This article puts forward much newly discovered evidence to broaden our understanding of Dewey's aesthetics. The musical components presented here help to expand on the theory in Dewey's book, Art as Experience, adding nuance to aesthetic ideas drawn more from painting.


John Dewey remains of foundational importance across education, and this piece can help to enrich our use of Dewey when thinking about music. I also hope it encourages teachers and scholars to further pursue music education resonant with Dewey's progressive and constructivist ideals.

Associate Professor Matthew Thibeault
Education University of Hong Kong

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Dewey’s Musical Allergy and the Philosophy of Music Education, Journal of Research in Music Education, January 2020, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0022429419896792.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page