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date: 21 February 2020

(p. 173) Transformations

Abstract and Keywords

Young people in challenging circumstances have been a key participant group in, and for, interventionist community music practice for several decades. In the United Kingdom, hundreds of projects receive funding every year to work with these children and young people, often with a clear agenda to focus on personal and social transformation, as well as musical development. While the benefits of this work have been well documented, it is only within the last decade that anything approaching a systematic, rigorous, and strategic approach has been attempted. Drawing on their professional backgrounds and data from their collective work on three, large-scale, national projects, the authors describe the essential components for a strategic approach to community music with children and young people in challenging circumstances—considering strategy first at the national policy level (what community music development should seek to achieve), and then at the level of community music pedagogy (what approaches would enable the desired musical, social, and personal goals to be achieved).

 Transformations

Mitrovica Rock School, Mitrovica, Kosovo (photograph courtesy of Musicians Without Borders)

In many respects, community music often has a transformational agenda. As the chapters in this section illustrate, the field of community music is increasingly becoming a force for social change around the world. As the introductory chapter outlined, the politics and practicalities of such a change agenda have long been debated by artists and writers within the context of instrumentalism, particularly within the context of the intrinsic-instrumental debate. As the introduction suggested, it might be argued that there is no dichotomy between these two ideas—the instrumental (p. 174) is intrinsic—and the chapters in this section, and indeed in the handbook more broadly point towards this case. In the opening chapter to this section, Phil Mullen and Kathryn Deane explore the essential components for a strategic approach to community music with children and young people in challenging circumstances. As they suggest, in the United Kingdom, hundreds of projects receive funding every year to work with these children and young people, often with a clear agenda to focus on personal and social transformation, as well as musical development. Their chapter first considers strategies at the national policy level and asks what community music development should seek to achieve for such children and young people). Then their chapter considers strategies at the level of community music pedagogy, considers what approaches to music-making would enable the desired musical, social, and personal goals to be achieved. Mark Rimmers follows the theme of community music, youth, and transformation in his chapter. He critically interrogates some of the key ways in which the relationship between community music, youth, and change are commonly understood, and then moves on to examine how these sit alongside the broader purposes and values commonly associated with community music.

Following this, Peter Moser’s chapter brings in the perspective of the practitioner in response to considerations of community music and transformation, and explores how communities grow in response to their constituents in a symbiotic process of sympathetic exchange. In this chapter, Moser explores this through themes of cultural creativity, ‘vernacular art’, and civic and personal celebration, which he believes are at the heart of the work of a community musician. Burnard, Ross, Hassler, and Murphy’s chapter then continues considerations of transformations within the context of intercultural dialogue and explores the role of community music in facilitating understanding across and between cultures. Their chapter features the work of Netherlands-based Musicians without Borders and UK-based Music Action International, and the voice of a Malaysia-based composer working in an intercultural context to examine transformations that have occurred through collaborations between diverse communities and musicians, illustrating the meeting of cultures and new practices. Sooi Beng Tan’s chapter then explores the role that community musical theatre projects have played in engaging young people of diverse ethnicities in multicultural and religious Malaysia to cross borders, deconstruct stereotypes, appreciate differences, and build inter-ethnic peace. This chapter provides insights into the strategies and dialogic approaches employed in two such community musical theatre projects that promote peace building in Penang. The emphasis is on the making of musical theatre through participatory research, collaboration, ensemble work, and group discussions about alternative history, social relationships, and cultural change. Picking up many similar threads within the context of transformation, Andre De Quadros’s chapter explores how identity, struggle, and inclusion are evoked in three contrasting (p. 175) settings: in American prisons and in community music projects in two other vastly different locations and situations in Mexico and Palestine.

In the final chapter in this section, Douglas Lonie continues the theme of research and transformation, and asks pertinent questions about how we evaluate and measure transformation in community music, particularly within a policy environment increasingly focused on establishing the impact of public investment on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Importantly, this chapter seeks to critically engage with terminology and appraise common models of evaluation and measurement advocated by a range of funders of community music, by reviewing a range of policy documents and evaluation approaches promoted by funders across the public and third sectors, using recent history in the United Kingdom as a case study. (p. 176)