Rock Music Pedagogy in the UK and US: Ignorance or Elitism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Writing an essay on rock pedagogy in 2017 represents a poignant time in the history of the genre, the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘classic’ albums such as Axis Bold as Love, Surrealistic Pillow, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Disraili Gears and of course Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Some of these albums can be regarded as setting the historical, cultural and stylistic parameters of the genre, becoming pervasive topics on TV and Radio, not to mention the subject matter of numerous academic texts by authors such as Moore (1992), Walser (1993), Zac (2001) and Fast (2001).

2017 also marks the 36th anniversary of the formation of the International Association of the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), an organisation that has been largely responsible for precipitating and disseminating the study of popular music around the world. As outlined by the likes of Cloonan and Hulstedt (2013), Blake (2014) and Powell, Krikun and Pignato (2015), the last 25 years has witnessed a proliferation of popular music higher education programmes in the UK and North America, the main territories in which rock music was gestated. Additionally, the impacts of the Tanglewood Symposium (Choate, 1968) and the National Curriculum for Music (Hallam and Creech, 2010) have had significant subsequent impacts on the inclusion of rock music in the pre university school curriculums in North America and the UK respectively.

So, in the 50th year since the release of the aforementioned albums, a time that has witnessed significant growth in popular music scholarship and curriculum development at both university and pre degree levels, it seems an appropriate time to consider the expansion of not popular music pedagogy, but arguably its most pervasive sub-discipline – rock music. When did rock music begin to be formally studied? What was the societal and cultural context to its development? What are the issues facing academics, institutions and students who teach and study the subject today? How does the pedagogy of rock music relate to the broader discipline of popular music?

After reviewing and critiquing the existing academic and industry related literature related to rock pedagogy and briefly reviewing its history, this essay will explore the aforementioned questions, focusing primarily on teaching practices and research in the UK and North America.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBloomsbury Handbook of Rock Music Research
EditorsAllan Moore, Paul Carr
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Electronic)978-1501330476 , 978-1501330469
ISBN (Print)978-1501330452
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2020


  • rock music
  • rock pedagogy
  • Music A Level
  • music analysis


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