Arts education and cultural communication: music, learning and identity

Raymond A.R. MacDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


We are all musical. Every human being has a biological, social and cultural guarantee of musicianship (MacDonald, Miell, & Hargreaves 2008). Of course this is not a new idea and this observation has roots in educational and medical practice that date back to ancient Greek civilisation and probably beyond (Horden 2001). Neither is this notion a vague utopian ideal, but rather a conclusion drawn by an increasing number of academic researchers involved in investigating the foundations of musical behaviour. The earliest communication between a parent and a child is essentially musical and, more specifically, improvisational (Trevarthen 2002). Indeed, to respond emotionally to music may be one defining feature of our humanity. Therefore music plays an absolutely fundamental communicative role in the earliest and most important relationship that we form in our lives, the relationship with our parents. In that sense we are all musical and we all have a musical identity because at that crucial point in our lives we were communicating musically and improvising with our parents.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArts Contact Points Between Cultures
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherUniversity of Helsinki
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789521057649
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • identity
  • cultural communication
  • music psychology
  • arts education


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