Competing Narratives: Musical Aptitude, Race, and Equity

  • Adria R. Hoffman


Carl E. Seashore developed the first music aptitude tests at the beginning of the twentieth century. Used as entrance requirements, research tools, and methods for determining who received musical educations in schools, these tests and resulting publications functioned as discursive texts in the emerging field of study known as the psychology of music. This chapter examines competing narratives running through documents in the American eugenics societies as well as the National Association for Music Education during the first half of the twentieth century. This chapter challenges constructions of race and intelligence that continue to serve as foundational constructs in music education and highlights counternarratives in research literature that may yield more productive and equitable educational practices.


Eugenics Music Curriculum Music education Aptitude Talent 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adria R. Hoffman
    • 1
  1. 1.Curry School of EducationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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