Facing the Music: Shaping Music Education from a Global Perspective

By Huib Schippers | Go to book overview

APPENDIX E
The World Music Adventures of Primary
Teacher Ms. Benson

PATRICIA SHEHAN CAMPBELL

Ms. Benson is teaching at Lakemount Elementary School in a suburban American community, where the school children are “mildly diverse,” with 20 percent African American, 10 percent Hispanic (mostly Mexican), another 10 percent whose parents or grandparents arrived from Vietnam or the Philippines, a few from Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, and all the rest who claim first- to fifth-generation European heritage. A “multiculti” American music teacher (the designation given by some for those teachers who are prone to feature varied cultural perspectives on a concept or subject, such as the study of poetry, or governmental practices, or music), she is very real, as are her children, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent. She knows the diversity of the children she teaches through the languages they speak, the religious and seasonal holidays they celebrate, the foods they bring from home in their brown bags, and the songs and recordings that they bring to share with her at music time.

Lakemount is a far cry from Ms. Benson’s own monocultural experience as a school child some twenty years ago, and she is keen to allow her music program to reflect the diversity of the school community. It is nearly the time of the winter program (once called Christmas, but no longer) and Ms. Benson has been rehearsing her 10- and 11-year-old fifth grade students on the music that will comprise a “Festival of Lights” concert. She has selected a carol for Christmas, a xylophone arrangement of a song from an Indian Divali celebration, a dance with recorded music to honor St. Lucia’s Day, a Hanukkah song with descant for recorders, a drumming piece with sung melody for Kwanzaa, a singing game for Thailand’s Loy Kratong, and a circle dance with recorder-and-drum accompaniment for Winter Solstice. This repertoire is quite multifarious, and Ms. Benson is eager to celebrate diversity through song, dance, and instrumental music with the children, their parents, and the entire school community.

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