Section: special focus: Changing Perspectives in Music Education
MUSIC EDUCATION IN A TIME OF CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION
Progress has been made in bringing the music of the world into the classroom, but there is still work to be done as teachers strive to bring meaningful musical experiences of multiple cultures to their students.
Following a month of Brazilian samba drumming and then a few weeks of Irish/Celtic melodies, the general music teacher announced to the fourth-grade children that Africa would be the next stop on their musical journey. In a series of eight sessions, they would learn to drum a polyrhythm from the Akan of Ghana, play a Shona four-part xylophone piece from Zimbabwe, move to a Yoruba juju piece out of Nigeria, and sing a South African freedom song. When discussing her plans with other educators, the teacher enthusiastically stated: “I consider it my responsibility to expose children to the world of musical possibilities. It fits well with their social studies curriculum, too, because music is a way of knowing culture.” The children's musical tour would thus continue into a pan-African fusion of experiences from the corners of the continent, where rhythms and melodies, instrumental techniques, and songs would be featured, and stories and artifacts would help to contextualize the music.
In another school—a high school long known for its exceptional concert, marching, and jazz bands—the district's mandate to multiculturalize was all but dead-in-the-wind as subject-specific skills and understandings took precedence. The band director's aims have been developing students' independent musicianship, which is centered on the development of performance techniques and notational literacy, and forging community spirit within his musical groups. As he tells it, the repertoire of all the bands is beyond ethnic boundaries. “I don't go looking for some evenly balanced program of pieces by African-American and Caucasian composers, and by Hispanics and Asians,” he says. “To me, it's about kids making good music and not about representing every last ethnic enclave in some schlocky arrangement.” Students in this schools top-rated bands hope to participate, as students have for several decades, in the full realm of the music program and in the performance of whatever repertoire their teacher deems essential, eager as they are to be in the flow of the concerts, festivals, and field trips.
Do these scenarios sound familiar? They are real portrayals of teachers in the field, and they express views that you, or the teacher down the road or across the district, may well hold. Should school music focus only on subject-specific skill development, or can musical growth ultimately lead to a societal goal of cultural understanding? Should music teachers be expected to participate in the movement for cultural democracy in curricular design, or should they be supported tot maintaining their long-standing ensembles and the repertoire associated with them? Which is better: a musical tour of many cultures, or the study of fewer musics in greater depth? A review of music education in a time of cultural transformation, and within the American movement toward multiculturalism, may bring to light responses to these and other questions concerning music's role in the schooling of young people in a democratic society.
Framework for Multiculturalism in Education
Multiculturalism is a societal movement, with roots traceable to the turn of the twentieth century, that began to surface as a significant component of school policy some fifty years ago. It is rooted in the African-American scholarship of writers like W. E. B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson,[ 1] and it is linked to the intergroup education movement of the 1940s that set out to find ways of reducing prejudice and building interracial cooperation. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was the more immediate impetus for the formulation of multicultural education in the United States, because this was the time when ethnic minority groups initiated actions to make others aware of the perspectives and needs of their underrecognized groups. First ethnic studies, the establishment of specialized courses about the contributions of minorities to American society, and then multiethnic education, the provision of equal education opportunities for all students, were developed to counter the historical injustices of schooling and society Multicultural education became the more encompassing term when other groups, such as women and disabled people, urged the incorporation of their histories and cultures into the school curriculum.[ 2]
Multicultural education has formulated its position from a variety of constituencies, and its principles have been sometimes vague and its policies multifarious.[ 3] Yet it is a metadiscipline of sorts, and it aims for increased educational equity for all students and for representation of their values and worldviews within the curriculum. It concerns systemic change to schools and universities and strives to reform policy, attitudes, curriculum, assessment procedures, languages and dialects within institutions, instructional styles and strategies, and the materials of instruction. It is meant to be broadly conceptualized, so that instead of only raising the diversity issues on Martin Luther King Day, Cinco de Mayo, or Tet (Vietnamese New Year), the principles of multicultural education can be seen as the power of cultural democracy that undergirds the construction of knowledge and skills every day of the year. More than a fleeting movement, multicultural education is the reflection of a society whose history is marred by periods of class consciousness, cultural insensitivities, and racial bias. It is a wholehearted effort to offer balanced treatment of all students, beginning at the earliest levels of their intellectual and emotional development through the continuing influence of schooling.
Multiculturalism as practiced within the school curriculum has been based upon the perceived need to serve an increasingly diverse population in the U.S. and to develop in students an understanding of the cultural thought and practices of populations across the globe. The first premise recognizes the cultural pluralism within American society and the demographic changes, through immigration and birth rates, that affect school populations. The second dimension is driven by the extensive growth in world networks of communication and transportation that have drawn nations and cultures closer together, making teachers feel obliged to “globalize” the curriculum. While both are social causes for curricular change, some multiculturalists would argue that the second is more appropriately an example of global and international education, rather than of multicultural education, because the emphasis is on the interrelationships among nations rather than peoples within one nation.[ 4] Yet in subject areas such as music, the boundaries have blurred as the fields have been combined, so that what is multicultural may also be global in scope.
Historical High Points in Multicultural Music Education
Historical evidence of a musical democracy in school programs can be traced to the first decades of the twentieth century. Physical education and recreation specialists, and a rare breed of music teacher, used RCA Victrola recordings of folk songs and dances in classes, but this activity was primarily an extension of the current interest in physical movement and dance. Folk song collections were appearing, and by the 1920s there were numerous music series texts that included both the German folk and classical songs of earlier editions, as well as the more recently included songs of England, France, and other countries in northern and central Europe. The “songs of many lands” phenomenon was on the rise by the 1930s, and textbooks and concert and conference programs showed the extension of the repertoire into the realm of African-American spirituals and work songs, with an occasional song (in English) from Eastern European, North African, and Native American cultures. Through the 1940s, a quest for inter-American unity through music was seen as an important thrust of music education. Spearheaded by the visionary ideas of musicologist Charles Seeger and coordinated by Vanett Lawler, then MENC associate executive secretary, the Advisory Council on Music Education in the Latin American Republics was established. Articles on Latin American folk music appeared in the Music Educators Journal, and conference sessions were organized around the pan-American theme.[ 5]
The servicemen returning from World War II and the Korean War brought with them a broader view of the world, which fueled the development of international studies. In the academy, some viewed musicological studies of Western art music as too narrow, and thus came the development of ethnomusicology to probe questions of music and culture beyond Eurocentric parameters. The founding in 1953 of both the Society for Ethnomusicology and the International Society for Music Education reflected this need to “go global” and supported the belief that an exchange of views on the study of music and its transmission was of central importance for both scholarship and educational practice. The music of Africa and Asia came trickling into textbooks of the 1950s and 1960s as transcriptions of recordings or remakes of missionary and military collections, complete with full piano scores. The internationalization of the music curriculum was sputtering along, with elementary music teachers increasingly translating the music of the world into suitable forms for performance by their young students.
Meanwhile, the civil rights movement was building its own momentum, fanned by African-Americans' growing dissent against racial discrimination, including segregated schools and unequal schooling for their young. Some music teachers working in urban districts, or in schools with large populations of African-American students, were turning toward the establishment of jazz bands, the performance of spirituals, and the study of assorted African genres (considered the musical roots of their students) and “youth music” (popular music with African-American musical influences). More often than not, however, music programs of the early 1960s in schools with diverse populations were not distinguishable from those in all-white and suburban districts. Nor did the increase of Latin American and Asian immigration spark much curricular modification at this time. In retrospect, the civil rights movement allowed for the verbal testimonies of discontent—the protests—that led to proclamations and policies advocating change, which in turn pointed toward the reshaping of instructional practice. The emergence of “urban music,” which in reality was the music of African-Americans, was slow to come but was indeed a response by a few enlightened inner-city music teachers to the discontent they heard around them.
The Tanglewood Symposium of 1967, organized by MENC, was the ultimate watershed of a profession in a time of societal turmoil. The gathering occurred in order to resolve questions about the content of school music programs and the relevance of school music programs to young people. Performers, conductors, educators, sociologists, anthropologists, government and industrial leaders, scientists, and others met to discuss “polycultural curriculums,” the reality of a musical hierarchy (with European art music at its apex), and “teenage music.… American folk music, and the music of other cultures.”[ 6] Tanglewood, among the most cited professional meetings of the century, had to happen in order that change to music programs could be a national endeavor rather than the result of isolated efforts of individual teachers. The symposium brought meaning to the term “diversity” as it relates to the American school-aged population and the multiple musics to which people could have access.
MENC went to work on the heels of the symposium, implementing the recommendations of the Tanglewood Declaration. MENC's 1968 national conference in Seattle featured three hundred junior high school students in a performance of an African song with an African drumming ensemble (all led by Barbara Reeder) that took the conventioneers by surprise and by storm. The Goals and Objectives (GO) Project of 1968–69 included a “Music of Non-Western Cultures” subcommittee and sought to advance the teaching of music from all cultures.[ 7] In October 1972, editorial chair O. M. Hartzell oversaw the special Music Educators Journal issue entitled “Music in World Cultures,” with a foreword by anthropologist Margaret Mead and contributions by ethnomusicologists and educators on musical traditions from selected cultures of Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Oceania (complete with a pair of two-sided floppy vinyl records).[ 8]
A counterbalance for the world-cultures approach was seen in several initiatives meant for the minorities in urban schools: the publication of James Standifer and Barbara Reeder's Source Book of African and Afro-American Materials for Music Educators in 19727 the organization of the National Black Music Caucus, and the formation of the Minority Concerns Commission in 1973. Clinics and published materials by Reeder, Standifer, William M. Anderson, and Sally Monsour[ 10] were pioneering efforts set against a backdrop of European folk songs (in English), Brahms choral arrangements, Mozart concerti for orchestras, and transcriptions for band. This work awakened teachers of various levels to materials and methods by which music programs could be multiculturalized.
Recent Moments in the Multicultural Movement
From the 1970s through the end of the century, the transformation of the profession's perspective on musical content and delivery continued. Conferences of professional organizations began to be seasoned with the musical traditions of African-Americans, as well as other world cultures. Particularly since the middle 1980s, programs of MENC, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, the American Choral Directors Association, and the Organization of Kodély Educators were loaded with concerts and clinics meant to showcase and teach a broader repertoire. Of course, the International Society for Music Education was a natural forum for offering participants earfuls of the world's musical cultures and the inherent pedagogical systems through which they are transmitted, and this is where some of the most forward thinking has occurred on “heritage musics” in education. In recent years, conference sessions have featured “culture-bearers” (traditional musicians trained in the music of their culture) who present their music either alone or paired with teachers (who serve as “classroom translators”). These presentations have offered more than merely a new tune to take home; they aim to bring about, through a musical event, a perceptual shift in the understanding of the ways a group of people thinks and behaves.
Educators have teamed with ethnomusicologists in search of musical materials and appropriate methods for teaching the world's musics. The Society for Ethnomusicology's Education Committee has identified scholars who perform and teach and has linked these “resource ethnomusicologists” to organizations of teachers and university teacher-education programs. In 1984, MENC, Wesleyan University, and the Theodore Presser Foundation gathered ethnomusicologists and educators at the Wesleyan Symposium, where they discussed music's meaning and transmission systems across an array of world cultures. MENC's 1989 textbook Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education was another testimony of the effort of educators working with ethnomusicologists to recommend sources and procedures for teaching a broader sampling of musical cultures.[ 11] On the heels of this book, MENC, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Society for Ethnomusicology cosponsored the 1990 Symposium on Multicultural Approaches to Music Education in Washington, D.C., where music educators, ethnomusicologists, and culture-bearers were brought together in a plan designed by William M. Anderson to represent and demonstrate the music of African-American, Chinese, Cuban/Carribean, Mexican, and Native American cultures. The publication of “Music in Cultural Context,” an in-depth series of interviews in the 1995-96 volumes of the Music Educators Journal, was yet another collaboration of sorts, as eight ethnomusicologists responded to questions prominent among teachers concerning musical authenticity, representation, and possible instructional processes.[ 12]
Materials and innovative technologies are being generated at lightning speed today, thus silencing one of the most frequently asked questions of a generation ago: “But where are the materials?” In a host of instructional packages by professional societies and publishing companies, music has been found, arranged, and created to bring musical diversity to classrooms and ensembles in elementary and secondary school. Textbooks, recordings, song collections, videotaped series, and arrangements for classroom instruments and lot choral, wind, and orchestral ensembles are widely available to those with even the tightest of school budgets. CD-ROMS and Web sites offer further information to teachers seeking enlightenment on music, musicians, and cultural contexts for the music. A growing recognition of the value of culture-bearers has led teachers to invite musicians from the community into school classrooms. Paid by PTAs or through arrangements as “contract teachers” (similar to part-timers who teach group violin, oboe, or French horn lessons), culture-bearers represent musical traditions beyond the expertise and experience of the music teacher; they may perform in special programs, lead small-group workshops, or serve in long-term residencies. Materials are no longer scarce, and sometimes the method of instruction is matched to the musicians and traditions they represent.
A new phenomenon has taken shape in recent years, even as elementary students sing songs of Cambodia or dance a Croatian kolo, concert choirs sway to the lively polychoral sounds of the Zulu, and band and orchestra teachers conduct their students in arrangements of Korean melodies and new music from Latin America. Gradually, following decades of rhetoric on the notion that traditional music can be performed in schools on traditional-sounding instruments, new ensembles that use authentic instruments are finally emerging (and re-energizing music programs). A tidal wave of African drumming ensembles—in which participants play Akan, Asanti, Ewe, and Ga rhythms from Ghana in a circle format—is rekindling the musical interests of upper-elementary and middle school students. Trinidadian steel drums, or pan ensembles, are a popular music elective for students from upper-elementary school onward. Mariachi hands are sprinkled into high school programs from Oklahoma and Texas to Arizona and California. Latin-flavored selections that feature guiros, claves, reco-recos, and surdo (drum) are increasingly included in the repertoire of high school jazz bands. Shona-style marimba music of Zimbabwe played on Orff and oversized wood xylophones is a recent development from the Pacific Northwest that is making its way eastward. Secondary school teachers who wish to maintain their long-standing school ensembles may still develop new groups such as these to multiculturalize the curriculum.
Are We There Yet?
Like children on a long car ride, we might wonder, “Are we there yet?” relative to the late of multiculturalism. No doubt, there has been a paradigm shift within the profession, and it rests in the repertoire. Musica exotica, it might be called, the exoticization of repertoire for various levels and settings, with the implicit assumption that the more distant the culture from which the music has come, the better.[ 13] The multicultural music education movement (which some have called world music education) has been primarily about musical diversity, with less regard for the cultural interfaces, contexts, and processes of the music. Perhaps this is because it is easier and far more economical to publish instructional packages complete with fully notated melodies than it is to run institutes for teachers in which culture-bearers transmit the music (and not incidentally, cultural constructs, too) in a traditional time-honored manner. It may also be that music teachers are naturally drawn to the music, are captivated by the new and unfamiliar styles that the world has to offer, and hold fast to the ideal that good music from anywhere in the world will gain and maintain the attention of young people—a reasonable assumption, although not fail-safe without the knowledgeable delivery of a strong teacher who knows his or her students well.
The movement, it must be noted, has focused less on the cultural diversity of the students and the communities from which they come. Multiculturalism assumes that the values of all students are sought and accepted and that the design and delivery of knowledge and skills are sensitive to their experiences, interests, and needs. But there are minorities close to home, having many generations of heritage in the U.S., who do not see the content or method of school music as relevant to them. The urban music initiatives that spun out of the civil rights movement were short-lived, and the profession has given little attention to preservice and in-service training of teachers working within cities, barrios, and reservations. The challenge of making music education a multicultural endeavor is to seek ways to match program offerings to student needs, to understand differentiated learning modalities, to develop social transaction skills, and to gain as teachers the cultural competence to communicate music—any music—to young people of various cultural backgrounds.
Activity on the multicultural front is still tilted toward programs in the elementary school, with teachers of children in general music classes assuming the greatest responsibility of a district's mandate. The practice of musical tourism (the whirlwind tour of songs from many lands), however, may breed more of an exposure than an educational outcome for young students, and elementary teachers may want to consider the gains of offering children the knowledge of fewer cultures in greater depth. A multicultural directive could be continued from kindergarten through high school; otherwise, children who are introduced to a wide variety of sounds but are gradually deprived of choices as they approach middle school will not choose music as a prime elective. Beyond the splinter group of students geared toward the standard school ensembles, there is hope for the greater masses with the establishment of pan or drumming ensembles. If schools could move toward offering an “other” ensemble (even through the contract hiring of a specialist), it might be possible to attract students who love a different kind of music than the standard school offerings. In this way, the responsibility toe teaching from a multicultural perspective extends through all the grade levels and relates to cultural as well as musical diversity. See the Multicultural Music Education Resources sidebar for sources of additional information.
We are not there yet, multiculturally speaking. In shaping music education in this time of cultural transformation, there are grand leaps forward but also concerns that the profession may become complacent with its accomplishments in diversifying the curriculum. There is even indication of a backlash, of a pendulum swinging past the center to programs that use “world music” without thoughtful consideration of its cultural meaning to the people of its place of origin or to the varied population of students within the classroom. Also, some teachers have not yet moved out of a one-track, Eurocentric valuing of the music of their earlier training that they wish to pass on to their own students. Other teachers are working, without great substance, to have their students sing or play many songs—all in the same way. The period ahead will be a telling time, when the increased population of minorities will have their say about societal changes and curricular redesign. Maybe, in the end, all cultures will blend, and all musical features will fuse. But, for now, the challenge of the profession remains: to develop in all young people the skills and knowledge of some of the musical expressions that resound in a cultural democracy like our own.
1. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899); Carter Godwin Woodson, The Mis-education of the Negro (Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, 1933).
2. James A. Banks, “Multicultural Education: Historical Development, Dimensions, and Practice,” in Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, eds. James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks (New York: Macmillan, 1995).
3. David A. Hollinger, Postethnic America Beyond Multiculturalism (New York: Basic Books, 1995).
4. James A. Banks, Multiethnic Education: Theory and Practice (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1994); Christine E. Sleeter and Carl A. Grant, “An Analysis of Multicultural Education in the United States,” Harvard Educational Review 57, no. 4 (1988): 421–44.
5. Terese M. Volk, Music, Education, and Multiculturalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Patricia Shehan Campbell, “Music, Education, and Community in a Multicultural Society,” in Cross Currents, ed. Marie McCarthy (College Park, MD: University of Maryland, 1996); Marie McCarthy, “The Birth of Internationalism in Music Education, 1899–1938,” International Journal of Music Education 21 (1993): 3–15.
6. Robert A. Choate, ed., Documentary Report of the Tanglewood Symposium (Washington, DC: Music Educators National Conference, 1968).
7. Michael L. Mark, “MENC: From Tanglewood to the Present,” in Vision 2020: The Housewright Symposium on the Future of Music Education, ed. Clifford K. Madsen (Reston, VA: MENC, 2000).
8. “Music in World Cultures,” special focus issue of the Music Educators Journal 59, no. 2 (1972).
9. James A. Standifer and Barbara Reeder, Source Book of African and Afro-American Materials for Music Educators (Washington, DC: Contemporary Music Project, 1972).
10. See Standifer and Reeder, Source Book; William M. Anderson, Teaching Asian Musics in Elementary and Secondary Schools (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1975); and Sally Monsour, Songs of the Middle East (Miami: Warner Bros. Publications, 1995).
11. William M. Anderson and Patricia Shehan Campbell, eds., Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference, 1989). A second edition was published in 1996.
12. These articles are compiled in Patricia Shehan, Campbell, Music in Cultural Context: Eight Views on World Music Education (Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference, 1996).
13. Patricia Shehan Campbell, “Musica Exotica, Multiculturalism, and School Music,” The Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning 5, no. 2 (1994): 65–75.
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE)
Multicultural Music Education Resources
Anderson, William M., and Marvelene C. Moore, eds. Making Connections: Multicultural Music and the National Standards. Reston, VA: MENC, 1997.
Anderson, William M., and Patricia Shehan Campbell, eds. Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education. Reston,VA: MENC, 1989 and 1996.
Campbell, Patricia Shehan. Lessons from the World. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Campbell, Patricia Shehan, ed. Music in Cultural Context.' Eight Views on World Music Education. Reston, VA: MENC, 1996.
Floyd, Malcolm, ed. World Musics in Education. Hants, UK: Scolar Press, 1996.
Fowler, Charles. Music! Its Role and Importance in Our Lives. New York: Glencoe, 1994.
Leith-Phillipp, Margot. Teaching Musics of the World. Affalterbach, Germany: Philipp Verlag, 1995.
Lornell, Kip, and Anne K. Rasmussen, eds. Musics of Multicultural America. New York: Schirmer, 1997.
Nettl, Bruno, and Ruth M. Stone, eds. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. 10 vols. New York: Routledge, 1997–2002.
Nettl, Bruno, et al. Excursions in World Music. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.
Reimer, Bennett, ed. World Musics and Music Education: Facing the Issues. Reston, VA: MENC, 2002.
Stock, Jonathan. World Sound Matters. London: Schott, 1996.
Titon, Jeff Todd, ed. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples. Belmont, CA: Schirmer, 2001.
Volk, Terese M. Music, Education, and Multiculturalism: Foundations and Principles. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
By Patricia Shehan Campbell
Patricia Shehan Campbell is Donald E. Peterson professor of music at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Source: Music Educators Journal, September 2002, Vol. 89 Issue 1, p27, 6p