Hands On Learning: The Persian Way

Let your hands do the thinking” is the unofficial motto of the traditional Persian musician. Until the late 20th century, many traditional virtuosos didn’t find much value in learning formal music theory at all, believing that it slowed down their creativity while performing. Today, their legacy inspires traditional musicians to foreground embodied learning, believing it fosters a deeply intuitive grasp of musical grammar that drives the creative process.

Essay for The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education

In this essay, entitled “Teaching Practices in Persian Music,” I compare Iran’s traditional music teaching methods with philosophical theories about music–which largely center on formal composition and music theory. Traditional Iranian musicians eschew these tools and privilege embodied methods instead, most of which have been underserved in analytic aesthetics.

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