Diversity, Inclusive Programming, and Music Education Series

Diversity, Inclusive Programming, and Music Education is a series of pieces exploring how large concentrated populations of ethnic minorities in the United States create alternative music ecosystems. The series will look at different historical music ecosystems either adapted to by creating a hybridized music identity or assimilated into the dominant Eurocentric music ecosystem.

The underlying theme should be the understanding that the dominant music ecosystem, as it’s primarily practiced through education and programming, is simply one ethnic music ecosystem that’s favored over many others that historically existed. These ethnic music ecosystems currently have limited power except in the case where large concentrations of ethnic minorities live.

Series Parts

Supplementary Pieces/Case Studies


Select Bibliography of US Music Ed History

Belz, M. (2006). Opening the Doors to Diverse Traditions of Music Making: Multicultural Music Education at the University Level. Music Educators Journal,92(5), 42-45. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3878501

Bond, V. (2017). Culturally Responsive Education in Music Education: A Literature Review. Contributions to Music Education,42, 153-180. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26367441

Heller, G. (1983). Retrospective of Multicultural Music Education in the United States. Music Educators Journal,69(9), 35-36. doi:10.2307/3396265

Mark, M. (1998). Multicultural Music Education in the United States. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education,19(3), 177-186. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40214966

Palmer, A. (1997). Multicultural Music Education: Antipodes and Complementarities. Philosophy of Music Education Review,5(2), 92-100. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40495430

Volk, T. (1993). The History and Development of Multicultural Music Education as Evidenced in the “Music Educators Journal,” 1967-1992. Journal of Research in Music Education,41(2), 137-155. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3345404

Volk, T. (1994). Folk Musics and Increasing Diversity in American Music Education: 1900-1916. Journal of Research in Music Education,42(4), 285-305. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3345737

Volk, T. (2003). Looking Back in Time: On Being a Music Education Historian. Journal of Historical Research in Music Education,25(1), 49-59. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40215277

Synopses of Parts

Part one: Intro

Introduction to the series and gives two examples of music education ecosystems (Chinese Music and Mariachi Music) which don’t rely on a Eurocentric model or canon. This piece introduces the field of Postcolonialist criticism.

Part two: Postcolonialism

This piece looks at the how Arab American communities have slowly built up their own music ecosystems and how education initiatives are diffused and disseminated across communities throughout the U.S. It ends with examples of how a Postcolonial critique can be used to unpack how we talk about music ecosystems.

Part three: Assimilation

Part three discusses how the U.S. has used forced assimilation, including a Eurocentric music ecosystem model, on Indigenous populations and how that legacy has been incorporated into contemporary music ecosystems even in music education. This will be contrasted with a discussion of other music ecosystems formed in immigrant communities that are happening concurrently with the forced assimilation model.

Part four: Immigration

Part four focuses on the “Third Wave” of Immigration in the United States and how the music of these new ethnic groups assimilated into the broader USian culture or remained a relatively isolated cultural practice intracommunally. In preserving aspects of the cultures of their homelands, these Croatian Americans and Italian Americans from the Third Wave had many strategies in common but also significant differences. While historical chance led the Estudiantina Española Fígaro to make a splash in the U.S. which helped propel Italian American Mandolin Orchestras into prominence, the Croatian Americans had no such luck.

Part five: Neocolonialism

Part five will look at how neocolonialism shaped U.S. cultural practices in music and music education into a Eurocentric model during the same period as the forced assimilation of indigenous peoples. By focusing on the Women Music Clubs and orchestras formed by Women, who were excluded from White Men orchestras, we’ll see that a Eurocentric model of music and music education became central and widely pushed by mostly white women during the heyday of the Women Music Clubs.

Part six: Industrialization

Part six will look at the history Colonialism through the lens of slave orchestras in the Southern US as well as worldwide, as well as the history of Anti-Blackness in the US Classical Music Ecosystem during its formative years. Orchestras by free African Americans have existed simultaneously with the Southern slave orchestras until the Civil War. Post war Black orchestras flourished alongside the Women orchestras and other Black musical genres during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Part six: Commercialization

Part seven will look at how the music instrument manufacturing industries and sheet music industry helped to shape American music. Part four already took a look at how guitar manufacturers built on U.S. audiences desire for exotic instruments during the mandolin phase, but this piece will briefly look at the decline of popular concert band period which forced instrument makers to create a new consumer for its instruments and how that shaped the music education movement.

Part eight: Exclusion

Part seven will look at the exclusion era and how the Chinese Exclusion Act further isolated Chinese American communities and kept their Cantonese Opera an intracommunal practice in many of the same ways that the Croatian American Tamburitzans were being practiced. At the same time, touring Chinese Opera troupes from mainland China were finding success with American audiences in ways that Chinese American Opera troupes were not.

Part nine: Colonialism

Part nine will look at the Colonialist history of the United States which led to the acquisition and annexation of several Island nations and regions in the Pacific and Caribbean. The music and cultures from these regions have so long been appropriated into U.S. culture that it’s easy to forget that incorporation was a indirectly a result of colonial conquest and earlier contact through immigrant communities from those regions.

Part ten: Hybridization

Part ten will look at how all of the historical examples of music ecosystems navigated hybrid identities as either an extension of Eurocentric musics or as relatively self-contained music ecosystems which remain till today. This piece will also look at more recent immigrant populations and their musical practices and ecosystems such as the Burmese Chin of Indianapolis have maintained contact within broader Chin diasporic music ecosystems worldwide.

Part eleven: Decolonialism

Part eleven will take a look at Decolonization as a practice used to dismantle Colonial institutions and the ambiguous ways in which it can be selectively used which may actually reinforce Colonialistic practices. This piece will also briefly take a look at how institutions in current U.S. music ecosystems have resisted Decolonization and reinforce Colonial practices.

Part twelve: Conclusion

The conclusion of the series will summarize the different ways immigrant groups navigates creating their music ecosystem identities and how these contested, assimilated, and created hybrid systems with the larger Eurocentric music ecosystem. It should be emphasized that the Eurocentric music ecosystem is itself an ethnic identity and only by placing it as one ethnic music ecosystem amongst many will we be able to move past its being central and dominant in the U.S. music ecosystem.