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Community Music as a Site for Social Justice

Higgins, Lee (2016) Community Music as a Site for Social Justice. In: I'm Inclusive Too, 27 Feb 2016, University of York, UK. (Unpublished)

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Although the term “community music” can be understood in a variety of ways, reflecting a myriad of possible contexts and musical situations (Veblen, Messenger, Silverman, & Elliott, 2013), this chapter has its focus on community music as an active intervention between a music leader and the participants with whom he or she is working (Higgins, 2012). As a form of thoughtful disruption, intervention denotes an encounter with “newness,” a perspective that seeks to create situations in which new events innovate and interrupt the present toward moments of futural transformation (Bhabha, 1994). Although there might be a danger that those who intervene are seen as an all-knowing Other, my particular location of intervention follows postmodern thinking inasmuch as there is an insistence of the emergence of the in-between, of boundary crossing through negotiation. Actions of interventions, which could include leading workshops, facilitating discussions, or supporting groups in their musical endeavors, demand deliberate strategies that seek to enable people in finding self-expression through musical means. Using teaching concepts rooted in non-formal education (A. Rogers, 2004), such as facilitation (Hogan, 2002), the pedagogic approaches employed by community musicians place an emphasis on negotiation through collaboration, and thus learning takes place through a “bottom-up” rather than “top-down” approach. With a heart toward coauthorship, collaborative group work, and a belief in the creative potential of all sections of the community, those who work in, and advocate for, community music have attempted to transform attitudes, behaviors, and values toward music making through their practice. This in turn has led to critical questioning surrounding the appropriateness of current music education provision in areas such as inclusion, community responsibility, creative opportunities, diversity, and preparation for a life in music making. This chapter has its focus on the creation of musical spaces that are open to each individual participant. Through two illustrative cases and a conceptual framework informed by Jacques Derrida’s writings on justice, I reveal why these music projects can be understood as sites for social justice and thus examples of hospitable music making.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
School/Department: School of the Arts
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/1392

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