Toward an Integrated Theory of Musical Worth and Pedagogical Value
Repertoire comprises the curriculum of school music ensembles. Research reveals that musical worth and pedagogical value are primary criteria in repertoire selection. This text explores relationships between these criteria in works and perspectives of Emma Lou Diemer and Alice Parker, two prominent female composers whose extensive catalogs include music written for educational settings. The analysis of several commissioned choral works of Diemer and Parker illustrates their written and spoken perceptions regarding musical worth and pedagogical value. From these individual composers emerge three common themes to be considered in the creation of choral art for educational settings: text, musical elements, and model composers. Diemer and Parker identify distinct qualities of musical worth (e.g. originality and expressivity) and pedagogical value (e.g. engagement). A thorough look into their creative process reveals an emphasis of process over product, the synergy of internal and external motivation, and a distinct moment (the "spark") at which musical worth originates. This "spark" that composers experience recurs as learners experience the full pedagogical potential of musical art.