Abstract

Despite the pervasive potential for teachers and students to experience vulnerability during musically educative endeavors, vulnerability remains largely absent from music education philosophy and discourse. The purpose of this philosophical inquiry is to examine and extend contemporary vulnerability literature and to consider how music educators and students might interface with vulnerable experiences. Vulnerable experiences involve uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. The destabilizing of one’s current self-conception that enables personal exploration and development often involves vulnerable experiences. Yet, without any limits, including considering particularly vulnerable individuals, such experiences may inhibit teachers’ and students’ growth. Alternatively, in instances when others meet one’s emotionally exposed musical endeavors with acceptance, vulnerable experiences can facilitate the formation of interpersonal connections as well as foster the development of communities based on shared self-loss. This connectivity, however, can have detrimental consequences if it becomes the primary purpose of music education or if it leads to group solidarity that inhibits critical thinking. While music educators and students might welcome vulnerable experiences into their practices and facilitate spaces in which they can explore them, student input and considerations of autonomy might guide critical deliberations regarding their possible drawbacks and limits.

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