Teaching a critical approach to music

Many of us grow up understanding music — and the arts in general — as something nice to have. Music provides entertainment, it brings joy, it adds emotional dimension to events from dinner parties and weddings to major international sporting events. And when we think of music as a profession, we often think of performance or composition. We do know, as well, that music occupies a significant place in cultural and religious practices. I find that it is of utmost importance to draw out the idea that music is not simply ‘something nice to have’, and neither is it a simply a ‘cultural’ practice that we may only encounter in a religious setting or at an occasion. Music shapes, and is shaped by, individual and social identity — and getting students to understand the mechanism behind these complex processes is the essence of a critical and intellectual approach to music, and one which I firmly believe cannot be ignored in the classroom.

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Weekend Watching: Tuvan Throat-Singing

Something I’ve been particularly interested in recently is the variety throat-singing styles common in Tuva, a landlocked Central Asian nation which is a state of the Russian Federation. The throat-singing in this video is a type of overtone singing that forms part of the musical tradition of Central Asian countries, and it is simply amazing to watch and listen to. Continue reading “Weekend Watching: Tuvan Throat-Singing”