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Inside-Out? Questioning and Listening for Social-Emotional Learning in Music

Austin Showen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Director of Music Education

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Robert Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education Auditorium

In music education, our theories, pedagogies, and performance practices have overwhelmingly supported the conception of emotion as an intrinsic state of the composer, the musical “work,” or performer that is expressed from the “inside-out.” Similarly, recent discourse on social-emotional learning (SEL) has focused on individual students’ “competencies” for dealing with emotion in social situations, often articulated as being able to “identify,” “regulate,” and “manage” emotions. Taken together, these conceptions of emotion assume that one needs to look on the inside of things and people to access or locate emotion. While the idea of emotion as something on the inside that we can identify in individual musical works and in ourselves may seem natural given everyday discourse that presumes interiority, it effaces historical processes of enclosure that have individualized and interiorized music, emotion, and the social. In this lecture, I question conceptions of music, emotion, and the social that restrict emotion to what is supposedly on the inside, and instead pursue alternative ways of thinking about emotion and music informed by recent feminist, new materialist, and critical theories of emotion. I use these theoretical perspectives to explore the shared, interpersonal, and relational dynamics of emotion and music in-between rather than inside of things and people, with the hope that this offers a more inclusive version of social-emotional learning in music.

Dr. Austin Showen, Assistant Professor, is Director of Music Education at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia where he teaches general music pedagogy, elementary education, music theory and aural skills, and directs the Shepherd Youth Chorus. He is a West Virginia native and a proud alumnus of Shepherd University where he earned his Bachelor of Music Education. He also holds a Master of Music Education with Kodály certification from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Doctor of Philosophy in music education from Arizona State University. As a music educator, Dr. Showen is passionate about building collaborative artistic communities that promote critical and creative inquiry. He has taught pre-kindergarten through graduate-level students in public school, university, healthcare, and church settings in West Virginia and Arizona. He also teaches summer Kodály certification courses at Arizona State University and the University of Montevallo Kodály Institute in Alabama. As a scholar, Dr. Showen focuses on the intersection of philosophy, aesthetics, and curriculum studies. He explores how our ideas about the nature of music, learning, and aesthetic experience afford and constrain possibilities for artistic-pedagogic engagement both in and outside of schools. He is also interested in promoting creative approaches to music education that incorporate popular music, composition, and contemporary forms of musicianship. Dr. Showen has presented his research at state, national, and international conferences and has published in the journal Leisure Sciences.