Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Sharing Ownership in Multicultural Music: A Hands-On Approach in Teacher Education in South Africa

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Sharing Ownership in Multicultural Music: A Hands-On Approach in Teacher Education in South Africa

Article excerpt

Introduction and background context

Africa boasts 54 countries with over 3000 ethnic groups speaking over 2000 languages (Zijlma, 2011). The rich diversity of its people and language contributes to the wide spectrum of music and culture. This article focuses on South Africa, a population of 50.5 million people, 11 official languages and a variety of cultures and religious beliefs (Stats SA, 2012) and situates itself within a music teacher education course. According to Gumede (2010), "South Africa is a melting pot of people with their roots in Africa, the East and also the West". The rich linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity allows people to have a unique South African identity where difference and compromise allows for acceptance so that a shared South African-ness can exist. Prior to democracy the history of South Africa is best understood in relation to colonialism and apartheid. Since 1994 citizens have lived within the democratic values set out within the SA constitution where respect, empathy and human dignity are key factors. As much has been written on this diverse society and the links made between apartheid and multiculturalism (see McKinney & Soudien 2010), I situate my study within the Bachelor of Education (BEd) primary teacher course at Pretoria University where multicultural music and in particular African music has currency in the process of change in music teacher education despite racial policies inherited before democracy.

Theoretical perspectives

McKinney and Soudien (2010) have outlined the difficulty in multicultural education in SA to be inclusive of those that have been marginalized and also to be "just and equitable, in respect of what kinds of cultural capital enjoy respect and recognition" (p. 17). I have argued elsewhere (Joseph, 2006) that the provision of multicultural arts education within the curriculum has the potential to help achieve a national reconciliation if we recognize and value difference, rather than monopolise social differences. Soudien, Carrim and Sayed (2004, p. 28), argue that "in efforts to accommodate 'difference', educational inclusion has taken the form of multicultural education or education for pluralism". This is "fast becoming the norm" according to Lee and Dallman (2008, p. 36) where multiculturalism and diversity are often used interchangeably. In the mid 1990s Banks and Banks (1995) firmly believed that a multicultural education prepares students to "function effectively in a pluralistic democracy society" (p. xi). Writing nine years later in South Africa after democracy Vandeyar (2003) was of the opinion that "an ideal form of multicultural education is one that not only recognizes and acknowledges diversity, practices tolerance and respect of human rights, but works to liberate cultures that have been subjugated" (p. 193). Prior to democracy, the South African music curriculum at educational settings focused on 'western music'. "Apartheid established a value system where European cultural manifestations were not only regarded as the most valuable but also as the only accepted" (Thorsen, 1997). Local cultures and music were not often included into the mainstream curriculum however such "musical practices were successfully carried on in informal musical life" (Thorsen, 1997, p. 9). According to Schippers (2010) by providing inclusive programs in schools that address multicultural music we make cross-cultural connections moving from a monocultural [like that of western music] to a transcultural exchange of approaches and ideas where many musics "are featured on equal footing" (p. 31). Although Banks (2004) writes particularly about multiculturalism curriculum, his contention holds true for music education that students "view concepts, issues, events and themes from the perspective of various ethnic and cultural groups" (p. 15). In post apartheid South Africa, music has become a uniting platform to achieve nation building. In school settings there has been a conscious and mandated shift in curriculum documents to include the Arts and Culture of all South Africans. …

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