Bringing music education theory into practice is often easier than in other subject areas because music isn’t part of the standardized testing movement. Because of this, we can make changes with slightly less effort. I had put together a theory examining the identification of stereotypes in elementary music classrooms and hypothesized on ways of removing them as I put the action research into effect in my classroom.
Since the research began with fairly innocuous questionnaires completed by both parents and students, it was a simple implementation. But from the surveys, I was able to derive anonymous percentages identifying numbers of students that felt obliged to listen only to certain types of music for various environmental reasons.
VERY SURPRISINGLY, the data showed that urban settings created the most barriers to students musical interests.
Specifically, in the latino community of Newark, NJ, those of my students who were Dominican would not willingly listen to Haitian music and the Haitians would not willingly listen to the Cuban music, etc. There were defined lines amongst the cultures. Conversely, in upper class caucasian districts (specifically the community of Morris Plains, NJ) the students were willing to listen to most any type of music but refused “country”. Rap was fine, bachata was fine… Anything but country.
Once I sat back to think about it, I realized that my dreams of unlocking a secret code to removing stereotypes from music education was not a viable idea. Epic fail. All I did was identify something obvious: children tend to listen to the music their parents listen to and if they are part of a defined community, those children will tend to listen to the music of that community. What’s the opposite of having your mind blown? That’s what happened to me.