Teaching the devil’s music

Some intersections of popular music, education and morality in a faith-school setting

Authored by: Tom Parkinson

The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472464989
eBook ISBN: 9781315613444
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042013


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Prior to working in higher education, I worked as a peripatetic music teacher in schools around southeast England. This experience was invaluable in helping me to develop a clear sense of my aims and values regarding music education through reflective practice (Parkinson, 2014). One of the schools in which I taught was run by the Church of England, and overseen by the local diocese. Although the student body included children of Sikh, Muslim and Jewish backgrounds, the majority of pupils were baptized Christians whose parents regularly attended church (or who at least had professed to do so when applying for their children to attend the school). Christianity was thoroughly embedded into the physical landscape of the school; crosses were present in all classrooms, and in the music department where I worked Biblical or otherwise-religious quotations and images were displayed on the walls. This traditional religious backdrop seemed to sit in juxtaposition with other aspects of the music classroom, such as students’ homework posters featuring images of artists such as One Direction, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. One corner of the room was occupied by a full set of drums, amplifiers and electric guitars on stands.

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