From Necker Cubes to Polyrhythms: Fostering a Phenomenological Attitude in Music Education

Dylan van der Schyff


Phenomenology is explored as a way of helping students and educators open up to music as a creative and transformative experience. I begin by introducing a simple exercise in experimental phenomenology involving multi-stable visual phenomena that can be explored without the use of complex terminology. Here, I discuss how the “phenomenological attitude” may foster a deeper appreciation of the structure of consciousness, as well as the central role the body plays in how we experience and form understandings of the worlds we inhabit. I then explore how the phenomenological attitude may serve as a starting point for students and teachers as they begin to reflect on their involvement with music as co-investigators. Here I draw on my teaching practice as a percussion and drum kit instructor, with a special focus on multi-stable musical phenomena (e.g., African polyrhythm). To conclude, I briefly consider how the phenomenological approach might be developed beyond the practice room to examine music’s relationship to the experience of culture, imagination and “self.”


music education, phenomenology, multi-stability

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ISSN: 1913-4711