By Sue Quindag, Convenor, ISME Spirituality and Music Education Special Interest Group
I believe in music, in its spirituality, its exaltation, its ecstatic nobility, its humor, its power to penetrate to the basic fineness of every human being.
Henry Colwell, composer
For about 30 years, there has been an increased interest among music educators and musicians to explore spirituality along with music. During the ISME conferences, many presenters discussed a broad range of topics pertaining to spirituality that included aesthetic experience, meditation, religion, culture, performance practices, history, and public policy. These sessions were consistently well-attended and participants expressed a desire for further organization and visibility. Consequently, at the 2016 ISME conference in Glasgow, Scotland we were pleased to meet and organise as a Special Interest Group (SIG)—Spirituality and Music Education.
As a newly formed SIG at this conference, our first session was a business meeting where we met participants from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, Ireland, Canada, and Singapore. The research interests in spirituality and music education varied greatly among the participants and included topics such as wellness, early childhood development of spirituality, spirituality and the sciences, the origins of spirituality, teacher education and spirituality, the absence of spirituality in American public schools, teacher identity and spirituality, self and authenticity with spirituality, religion, cultural diversity, and relational ontology of spiritual music. Then, throughout the week, participants of this SIG presented spoken papers, workshops, symposiums and poster sessions on specific related topics that included mindfulness, various religious practices, curriculum related practices, meditation, philosophical inquiry, current events, and others. Each session was well attended and provoked interesting conversations among the attendees.
As a SIG, there are several essential goals we are working toward accomplishing. First, we would like to continue and serve as a community within ISME for communication and collaboration. In order to do so, a Facebook page titled Spirituality and Music Education is available for all to interact. Second, we would like to promote and encourage members of ISME to consider presenting and having a conversation about spirituality and music education. Third, we would like this SIG to attract non-members of ISME who are interested in this field to join and actively participate. Finally, we would like to support and promote other conferences, publications, and activities related to spirituality and music education. Currently, there is an upcoming Spirituality and Music Education conference titled Interdisciplinary Dialogues in Music, Wellbeing, and Education to be held in London, England on December 9-10, 2017. Also, there is an upcoming publication The Spirituality in Music Education compiled by June Boyce-Tilman.
As we look forward to the 2018 ISME conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, we would like to invite you to be part of Spirituality and Music Education through presentations, interaction and attendance. As you can see, there are many research threads that can be explored within this SIG. Certainly, if you have any questions, suggestions or would like to consider collaborating on a presentation, please feel free to contact me. We hope that together we can continue to explore the spiritual in music.