Participatory music in Japan: Preschool marching band

Sports day, or undōkai (運動会), is a very important for participation and group cohesion. In Japan they exist at every school, and each neighborhood also has one in which people of every age participate together. The event typically weaves together music, dance, and sports (the sports are often collaborative, such as a relay race). Preparation is a focus for several months, and the senior students (age 5) present a marching band show that is a highlight. Here are a few moments:

Further reading on Japanese bands and preschools:

Hebert, D. G. (2012). Wind bands and cultural identity in Japanese schools. Dordrecht; New York: Springer.
Rohlen, T. P., & LeTendre, G. K. (1996). Teaching and learning in Japan. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Walsh, D. J. (2004). Frog Boy and the American Monkey: the Body in Japanese Early Schooling. In L. Bresler (Ed.), Knowing Bodies, Moving Minds (pp. 97–109). Springer Netherlands.
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Sound studies and Suzuki at NAfME Atlanta 2016

Sound Recording at the Heart of Pedagogy: Suzuki’s Method in America
Thursday, March 17, 8:30 a.m. (Augusta Room 3)

Suzuki cassetteThis historical study examines the mediated pedagogic techniques of the Suzuki Method. I explore the role of mothers as pedagogic and technological innovators, the development of approaches to learning through listening, Suzuki’s notion of  a recording as teacher, and the pedagogic extension of the method through the adoption of the compact cassette tape format. Finally, the resonance between the Method and Japanese educational ideas is contrasted with the American resistance to recordings.

For those curious to think about what it means to connect musical development and instrumental learning to sound recording technologies, those who are interested in sound studies and media, and fans of Suzuki’s “Twinkle Variations”—you are invited! There will be time for discussion and questions.

While in Atlanta I will also be presenting to the Philosophy SRIG Pre-conference, attending the Philosophy SRIG session, and attending sessions for BCRME, for SRIG Chairs, and a social event for the University of Florida. NAfME Atanta Suzuki 2016 look forward to seeing many friends and making new ones.

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Mursell and the psychology of music education (1940s edition)

For those interested in the history of music education and psychology, here’s a real treasure from 70 years ago: the syllabus for ED 289I, “Psychological Foundations of Music Education” as taught by James Mursell at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Here’s the syllabus for the class in its entirety.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Mursell has a Wikipedia page, and a special issue of Visions of Research in Music Education covers the legacy of Dewey and Mursell. Scott Goble’s What’s So Important About Music Education also has a section on Mursell.

I came across this syllabus while doing archival work at the University of Southern Illinois Edwardsville campus, and have been able to narrow it to between 1943–6. Here are a few choice questions from the “study guide”:

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Participatory Music in Music Educators Journal

KyotoJam

American old-time jam in Kyoto, Japan

“Music Education for All through Participatory Ensembles,” appears in the December 2015 issue of Music Educators Journal. The article presents ideas from my immersion in participatory music—in particular from a chance to learn alongside Tom Turino as I helped him teach a class for music education graduate students for two summers (he was also my clawhammer banjo teacher). The article helps to pass on some of what I learned through reading, teaching, and doing participatory music out in the world.

Making participatory music, adopting participatory values, and bonding with others through music changes one, and I hope that many educators find time to explore the values, pedagogy, and repertoire of participatory music with their students.

Here are some resources to explore:

Dana Montiero’s Harlem Samba: http://www.harlemsamba.com/#about
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Singing along in Japan

Singing together is an important part of life in Japan, and it is a delight to where participation is rich and frequent. Here’s a short performance I recently gave at a preschool festival. Without a rehearsal, we aimed for music that was accessible for participation: songs the children knew from school, American old-time tunes, and popular tunes from Disney and Japanese anime. You can see how children clap and dance along, and that adults also join in. For the finale they danced the theme from Yo-Kai Watch, a popular anime/game, and nearly every child knew or followed along with the group dance.

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Participatory music in Japan: Homebrew ukulele edition

There is a depth of community and participatory events in Japanese schooling and society, the origins of which are hinted at in T. M. Luhrmann’s Op-Ed in the Times, “Why are Some Cultures More Individualistic Than Others?”

My adventures in Japan have included many deeply fulfilling events, and those interested in participatory music might enjoy my article in the upcoming December issue of Music Educators Journal (or read this talk now). Here’s a recent sing-along at the Uku-Par welcome party in Toyama, Japan. I displayed chord forms and invited everyone to sing and strum along. My approach is uncommon in Japan, but the abilities of the players and willingness of singers connected everyone together for a delightful set. Of course, it never hurts to have a pint-sized translator/backup dancer in the mix.

Photos by  Takumi Sugaki.

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Would you buy a copy of a free article? A word on reprints

etunesOver the past year I received two requests to reprint my writing. Who could say no? My column on hip-hop was requested for the book Etunes, a music-centric reader for English rhetoric classes edited by Rod Taylor. My article on the shifting locus of music from performance to recording to data was included in Clint Randles’ Music Education: Navigating the Future. Clint’s book includes the papers from the 2013 SMERS conference, and my paper was selected to receive the OMER award and appeared in MERI.

While one would buy the above books for the overall collection, it is odd to have two books reprint articles that are freely available: MERI is open-access, and the hip-hop piece is one that I posted after the publisher’s embargo expired, something I encourage all scholars to do.Randles

Here’s one reason why you might still buy the book for a version of my articles: In both of the above cases, the editors enhanced the versions. Rod’s book includes introductory essays as well as discussion and reflection questions for each piece. Clint’s book includes thoughtful reflections by David Williams and also Frank Heuser that tangle with the authors in that section.

Click the image to visit the Amazon listing for each book.

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