Charles Fowler and His Vision for Music Education: An Introduction and Selected Writings From 1964 to 1989

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Charles Fowler, eminent advocate for arts education, devoted his career to the idea that music was critical to the development of young people and could positively impact schooling and society. During his 45-year career, he served in many roles: as teacher, supervisor, professor, scholar, author, editor, consultant, and advocate. Although his contributions are prolific, this research represents the first full-scale study that considers his work as an entire body. The purpose of this dissertation is to introduce Fowler as a significant figure in the field of music education, codify the major periods of his career, identify important writings, contextualize them within their times, and review them according to his vision for music education.

Utilizing historical method and content analysis, several thousand documents were examined from the Charles Fowler Papers archived at the University of Maryland, College Park. Following an introduction to Fowler and his work, four periods of his career are presented, with the two middle periods, 1964 to 1973 and 1974 to 1989 serving as the focus of the study. Selected works were chosen based on their relevance to important events in Fowler's life and their relationship to his philosophy and viewpoint. The works were analyzed and contextualized by using primary source documents, foundational texts in music education, Fowler's own commentary, and interviews with established scholars and colleagues who knew him and respected his work. Finally, these writings traced the development of Fowler's vision which advocated music education can serve as an agent of social change.

Findings reveal that Fowler's initial vision was based on the seven reconstructionist objectives he outlined in his 1964 dissertation. Based on these objectives, fifteen broad themes emerged in his writings during the period of 1964 to 1989. The themes elaborate on Fowler's vision for music education and its value to society, and relate to core concepts of reform, democracy, creativity, advocacy, and social change. It is hoped that this study will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to continue research into the life and career of Charles Fowler, along with further writing about reform and pragmatic change within the music education profession.