How Do Music Teachers Use Hip-Hop Music in Their Classrooms?

I have been reviewing the literature on hip-hop pedagogy and its uses in the music classroom, and many of them see the use of hip-hop music and culture primarily as a means to foster intertextual and subjectivities within the domain of literacy, the written word. However, there are a few scholars that have written about the potential for the music’s use within music education. These music education scholars are Greg Dimitriadis and Adam Kruse. There a plethora of scholars (Akom, Morrell, Duncan-Andrade, Emdin, Soderman, Folkestead, etc) from a variety of educational areas that have written about hip-hop’s pedagogical uses in the classroom, but the focus of these articles are main centered on the cultural relevance and understandings that are created when teachers and students interact with hip-hop. I am interested in finding what is happening in the music classrooms all-around America in regard to the uses of hip-hop music and culture. Why is there a huge gap in the literature in regard to the uses of hip-hop in the music classroom, and what does this mean for its future uses?

I started to dig further and found that my initial response was one of disdain toward to the academy for not valuing the music that I so loved. I later started to wonder why there really wasn’t any data reflecting a serious study of the music’s effects on music education. Where was the empirical data? Where were the studies demonizing or reaffirming the power of the music within the walls of k-12 or post secondary school? I search and I searched and found that the researchers writings mainly reflect the experiences and interests that they have. I know anecdotally that there are teachers all across American that use hip-hop music culture in their classrooms, but no one has really taken the time to report it. Most practitioners are busy doing, and most researchers are busy experiencing and chronicling the outcomes. There are areas that are not communicated by either group. Hip-hop is one of those areas. Sam Seidel wrote a powerful book called “Hip-Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education” which recounts the story of a successful arts program in Minnesota that uses the study of the culture as a means to educate youth. So, I know that if there is one model for the infusion of hip-hop into music education there must be at least one more. As the demographic of the teaching forces changes over the next 20 years, we must be prepared to change the types of ensemble formats that pre-service teachers have access to while in college. The average 18-25 year old student is part of the post-hip-hop generation, and even if there are not huge fans of the music or culture, they have never none a time when the music did not exist. I often relate to those who know me well, that I didn’t know any Beatles music until I was in the early thirties, because the experiences and music I had at school and home were heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder, Andre Crouch and many jazz legends. So, what would my conception of relatable music and musical experiences have been if there was band or ensemble at school that was part of my enculturation as a educator? I can also recount my visit to Dillard School of the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They have recording arts program headed by one Israel Charles has developed a great program around the use of music technology to do project based learning. There have been several successful hip-hop artist that have come out of the program, as well as musicians and lovers of music that have graduated from that program, myself included.

So, how do music educators use hip-hop in their classrooms? According to Kruse (2014) and Dimitriadis (2009) there are currently three forms of Hip-hop pedagogies that have been identified by scholars 1) hip-hop as a bridge 2) hip-hop as a lens and 3) hip-hop as a practice. Each of these can be used in the musicking classroom (Chris Small). I recently shared a google survey with music educators of all levels, via social media. Link provided here —–> https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Ku6DGBwBl3VLKg6LSENP3iiuE_OVbjCVbkJcTmv17yk/viewform?usp=send_form  Please feel free to fill this out, if you are a teacher, past or present, and have or are interested in using hip-hop music/culture and its pedagogies in your classrooms. When I am finished collecting data in the upcoming days, I will share the results of what teachers are or are not doing with hip-hop.

 

P.S. I have been using the term “cultural appropriation” as of late and will start using another term to express my wishes for the use of hip-hop music in education. I have recently seen the term “musical exchange” and think this is

TI:ME/TMEA 2015 Conference #MTLA

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This conference was pretty cool, and I really enjoyed the people, the products and my time here in San Antonio, TX. TMEA is ridiculously large, at least two times bigger in attendance (exhibitors & attendees). The Technology in Music Education conference also opened my eyes and gave me a lot to chew on in regard to my future research. Music education is up for a surprise in the coming years as demographic change in this great land of ours. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by the year 2043 America will no longer by majority “white” but will become majority Latino, African-American, Asian and other in population. There are so many important topics that will and have begun to surface in regard to education in America. I am, and the other Music Technology Leadership Academy interns look to combat this issues and support change the creating programming, instruction and curriculum that seeks to integrate technology into the music classrooms all across America. This definitely impacts all programs seeking to integrate hip-hop pedagogies into music education, because hip-hop from its inception has had a great relationship with innovation required by the dire socio-economic situation of the groups (minorities) that created the American art form in the Bronx (NY). I can’t wait to do that pilot study this summer….

The Utility of Hip-Hop Music in Music Education #HipHopMusicEd


 

HipHopMusicEd

HipHopMusicEd

The Utility of Hip-Hop Music in Music Education #HipHopMusicEd


 

I really love hip-hop music, …no I REALLY love hip-hop music! I have loved it, the good and the bad, ever since I was about 11 years old and my mother bought me some Addidas high-tops like Run DMC, and took me to see “Tougher Than Leather”, a movie produce by Russell Simmons and that featured Run DMC (coincidentally, it was a great album as well.) So, I’ve been in love with hip-hop music for almost three decades. As a member of the hip-hop generation I am both a critic and advocate for the power of the music, and by proxy the culture. I’ve seen hip-hop grow into a multi-billion dollar industry that started off as a mechanism for expression and agency, out of the urban experience. I fell in love with music even earlier than I feel in love with hip-hop. I can remember going to the record store, yes the Record store, to pick up new music. See, my mother was and still is a lover of good music. So, I grew up listening to Stevie Wonders “Innervision”, all of Natalie Cole, the Ohio Player’s “Honey”and “Fire”, as well as all of EWF (Earth, Wind & Fire). I watched Casey Kasem “America’s Top 10” every Saturday when I would visit my grandmother’s sister Luella. I was and still am the Hip-Hop generation. My favorite hip-hop song of all time is “Stakes is High” by De La Soul, track produced by the dynamic genius of J-Dilla. I used to play in a hip-hop band in Chicago called H2O Soul, and we often opened up for the legendary hip-hop band,  the Roots, Mos Def, and Common in Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. I still make my own mixtapes (CD)of the hottest rappers out so that I can hear them in my car on either my iphone or my cd player. I am Hip-hop.

I have also been part of the conservatory method that was a huge part of the model used to design the American system of music education. I am a professional trumpet player (jazz) and I have two degrees in music performance, one a M.M. in jazz studies from Northern Illinois University (Go Huskies). But, the majority of my musical development and understanding, over the last twenty years, of what I feel real music, honest music, should be like comes from my time investigating hip-hop music on my own. Its these critical experiences in hip-hop, I believe, along with critical reflection that can and will help save American Music Education. I know that’s a bold statement, but there has to be something said about a musical genre that is global in nature. There are hip-hop cultures all over the world. Hip-hop exploded on the scene like a nuclear bomb, leaving radiation everywhere…affecting everything around the blast zone, whether it be lasting or temporary. The debates that have sprung from the addition of the music into the popular domain of culture is immense. The critical writing on the subject, in the “con” side, is a large number. However, there are a few examples of researchers calling for more investigation into hip-hop pedagogy. This groups use the music and culture as a device rather than a music making opportunity. These experiences in music that we are talking about would be called “Musicking” by the late ethnomusicologist, Chris Small. Daily we all are bathed is sound, and music in its essence, is sound. Why must we be masters in order to craft something? That’s a horrible thought, to believe that in order to take part in something you can only do so if you are the master of it. You can never contribute, or feel value until you have truly mastered it, correct? I disagree with this sentiment and believe hip-hop music’s development has helped music endure in the America of the 21st century. It helped the music industry sustain over the last two decades. It has revitalized the way we share music and how often we can do it. Hip-hop was child along with the internet, synthesizers and cable, and the little brother to Funk, Punk and Disco. Hip-hop was raised on a diet of Reganomics, budgetary cuts in Arts Education, the Crack Explosion, and the AIDS epidemic of the  early 1980’s. What a dynamic time in the world, and more specifically the United States of America.

So, I believe this dynamism that Hip-hop, the music of  the Urban America experience, encountered during that time makes it a suitable and relevant bridge, lens and practice – framework, in which to work in. Music education is behind the eight ball and needs to look deeply in itself to find the big why(s)? Why do we teach? Why do we need to teach that? Why isn’t Hip-Hop music part of the canon? Why are we afraid to use hip-hop as more than a tool? Why aren’t we treating it as a subject – space of inquiry? These questions can be very difficult to answer, for some. Hip-Hop is relevant for the millions of people that are part of the post-hip hop generation. Hip-hop, for them, has always been a part of their lives and they can’t remember a time when there wasn’t hip-hop music or culture seen all around them. They can’t think of a time before rap, or when there wasn’t graffiti somewhere, or when deejays didn’t mix records without the use of a crossfader? Hip-hop is S.T.E.A.M.. If you really want to be real about it. Its the place where technology, society (culture), and music collide (imbricate) creating a beautiful consequence. If you want to relate to this generation of people, as a music educator, you will have to overcome your fear of messing it up (experience) or not doing it authentically (realness), and truly investigate the music (black urban culture). Music education programs will have to accept change and include new things into their pedagogies on pedagogy(instruction). I advocate for change, not massive and devastating change, but dynamic change nonetheless.

The use of hip-hop music in American music education is useful, practical and relevant. The utility of hip-hop music in music education is tremendous. Its both an “end” and a “mean” and that spells out a win win for all educators. Hip-hop has an aesthetic deeply grounded in ethnographic dislocating, de-centering and disrupting what we value and what our values are. The music can be analyze by theoretician, historian and educational teachers in three different perspectives; “Hip-hop as Bridge”, “Hip-hop as Lens” and “Hip-hop as Practice” (Kruse, 2014). These delicate yet flexible frameworks, through which we can use and engage with the space of inquiry that hip-hop creates, are important to recognize prior to delineating our curriculum. In order to create lasting change we must first get teachers, students, administrators and the public at large to understand that music is sound, and hip-hop in its purest form is sound appropriation. Its similar to the renown work of appropriation artist Elaine Sturtevant (Check out the MoMA – Double Trouble) did in the late nineteen-seventies from works centered on Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollack. Hip-hop helps people combat and face their biggest prejudices by allowing an open debate between lyricist, deejays, graffiti artist, breakdancers and the audience to be had, about topics including but not limited to; freedom, identity, democracy, police brutality, violence in urban areas, racism, sexism, peace, victory and a wide array of other themes. Its a great introduction for music students interested in composition to learn about building motifs and motives. Its a perfect way to teach patience and what a groove is (Ostinato). It allows the teacher to deal with timbre and sonority, two of the most difficult topics in music education. Teachers can use the music to explore ethnomusicological approach to getting their students to learn more about the culture of America, history of our country and the various factors that contribute to our place in the world. Hip-hop helps people (that participate with it) to write their own worlds (story) in a more accessible ways than most other musical genres. Its accessible, and teachers need to know that the only thing between hip-hop music and them, is really only them and their preconceived notions about the culture and music(BAM). I prefer that the academy take a look at the programs all around the country that would benefit from culturally relevant music education, and simply attempt to expand the canon. Include a couple of famous hip-hop tunes as evidence of a willingness to engage with others about our path. Sometimes we as teachers (educators) forget that we are not in a fight with society or culture(people), but rather we are in a war with the thoughts and ideas that pollute our minds and those of the masses.

As I spoke earlier about “de-centering” “dislocating” and “disrupting” our thinking or ideological sediment, hip-hop music is great at doing that. Democracy demands controversy (Hess 2009). So, what other music has caused as much controversy as hip-hop? Lets use this space of inquiry as an opportunity to get teacher and student using discussion as a way of learning. To share is at the heart of the arts, and the vehicle of the aesthetic. Democracy is but a frame about which we demand to contribute our voices, but their must still be a system put in place to make sure everyone is heard. I am not suggesting that we simply change all of the literature and repertoire lists that exist in American Music Education, but that we simply expand it in order to make needed room for all American music genres. They all deserve to be valued as product, artifact, space of inquiry, movement, culture, etc. As American changes, demographically, so should the things that we value. We should start seeing more elements of the minority view present in the privileged position, because the Eurocentric values of our forefathers are antiquated and have never really represented the entirety of the American populous.

 

So, what I will be doing over the next couple of years, is build a case for a space for hip-hop music in music education. I hope you will join me, because will be writing about curriculum, instruction and uses of hip-hop pedagogy in the domain of the music classroom. I hope you will engage with me in this journey and feel free to comment and ask questions. I will post the link to my blog on #twitter #instagram and #facebook using the hashtag #hiphopmusiced

 

Sincerely,

Jarritt A Sheel

#hiphopmusiced #hiphopmusiceducation #hiphoped #hiphoppedagogy #hiphop #Music #MusicEducation

 

 


 

SOCIAL MUSIC… (Jazz Music)

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So, recently I saw the indiegogo video for the Don Cheadle produced homage the great Miles Dewey Davis. On a sidenote… please support this effort by Don Cheadle to honor this great American through this film project “Miles Straight Ahead”. Miles Davis was and is a great American, how do I know this? He was an interesting musician, artist, business persona, personality. He helped music change about five or six times during his lifetime by leading the charge in experimenting with sounds and textures. I would argue that he is our Stravinsky, he is our Schoenberg. How does that make him a great American you may ask? Well … it doesn’t.

Your artistic output shouldn’t solely be able to place you in the category of great citizen or member of the republic. However, your public and private acts of questioning and speaking out aloud for or against topics does. Miles was an asshole to some and a savior to many. He helped change many lives through his playing and compositions. BUT,…but… what really placed an inedible mark in the column of great American for him was his ideas about race, color and above all the place that music should have in our community. As I watch the indiegogo campaign video, I was reminded that Miles like other great “jazz” artist had disdain for the term “JAZZ”.

He and Duke Ellington, as well as many other jazz musicians were documented throughout the history of the music disagreeing with the term. Nicholas Payton and many other new musicians involved in crafting the new directions and paths of this great American music that most people call “jazz” have lead the charge to call it by the bigger distinction of Black American Music (#BAM). It is true that the music came out of the black community in New Orleans, as many other American folk musics i.e. Blues, R&B, Hip-Hop, etc. However, if we zoom out even more.. we can see what Duke and Miles were talking about. We can see the music as being social.

“Jazz” for the lack of a better term, is social music. Socializing is the main function of all art, and most specifically music. Performances are no good with audiences of at least one other person. All music serves the same functions and directions as life. To serve the function of communicating our emotions and feelings, our desires and expectations, the good and the bad in life. So, as I was reminded today through watching this video asking for support of Miles Davis bio-pic, all Black American Music forms are social music.

I will explore this more in coming months… but I had to jot this down before I forgot. Read ya later.

Sincerely,

Jarritt A Sheel

What is Hip Hop Pedagogy? 

 

As a current graduate student in the Music & Music Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University I have decided to write frequently and persuasively about Hip Hop Pedagogy in the domain of music education. My name is Jarritt A Sheel and I am currently a Ed.D. student in the Music & Music Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. I am an avid fan of hip-hop music and hip-hop culture, a professional musician (trumpet), I lead a jazz big band, and I have been a music educator for the past 15 years. I am throughly enamored by all art forms, but specifically the medium sound we call Music.

As a child I was pretty lucky to grow up during the period leading up and encompassing what many consider the “Golden Age of Hip -Hop”, the period of the late 1980’s until the mid-1990’s. My mother was born in the 1950’s, which meant she was a member of the baby-boomer generation, post WWII. She grew up listening to all sorts of Rock, Blues, Funk, Soul, etc. You name it, it was on the radio and she probably had a copy of that record in her collection. She introduced me to the world of music and more importantly fostered my curiosity about the then expanding field of hip-hop music. She bought me a RUN DMC record and took me to see, although we both didn’t know what it was about, “Tougher Than Leather”. After bout 30 minutes of this early hip-hop movie featuring RUN DMC, The Beastie Boyz and many other Def Jam label artist, we exited stage left… because I was merely 12 years old. However, she sparked within me the love for controversial art and more importantly that of Hip-Hop.

Hip Hop is an original art culture that rose out of the metropolis of New York City, specifically the Bronx, in the 1970’s. It is an American folk music that has traditions, like all American Folk, in telling the story of the people. A matter of fact I would go as far as saying that Hip Hop is the greatest of all American Folk musics. It is wonderful, sublime, hideous, grotesque, lustful, beautiful, ugly, mournful, celebratory, liberating, and oppressive all at the same time. The time period out of which hip-hop grew, the 1970’s, was a particularly frustrating time in America for the middle and lower socio-economic groups in the area of finance and social mobility. Introduce the 1973 oil crisis, Urban Decay, and the financial meltdown of one of the biggest cities in the nation (looming financial default of New York City late 1970’s) and you have a potent cocktail for failure amongst those living near, on or below the poverty line. 

The 1970’s was all ready an interesting time of contraction and expansion. The nation was expanding its identity while those involved in social-economic engineering, outside of academia, were looking at the contraction of the wealthy through the monopolization of the free market. A great example of that would be the movie “Trading Places” starring young Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackryod. Which loosely discusses, through comedic foils, the intentional and systematic engineering of the socio-economic structure in America. The Bronx was burning and the music, like art always does, told the story. These are the lyrics of the early hip-hop group Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five hit “The Message”

 

[Intro x2]

It’s like a jungle sometimes

It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

 

[Verse 1]

Broken glass everywhere

People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care

I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise

Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice

Rats in the front room, roaches in the back

Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat

I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far

Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

 

[Hook]

Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge

I’m trying not to lose my head

It’s like a jungle sometimes

It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

 

[Verse 2]

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window

Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow

Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag

Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag

Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango

A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses

Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps

So she can tell her stories to the girls back home

She went to the city and got so so seditty

She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

 

[Hook]

 

[Verse 3]

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV

Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy

All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night

Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight

The bill collectors, they ring my phone

And scare my wife when I’m not home

Got a bum education, double-digit inflation

Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station

Neon King Kong standin’ on my back

Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac

A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane

Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane

I swear I might hijack a plane!

 

[Hook]

 

[Verse 4]

My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school

Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool

And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper

If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper

Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet

Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps

Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny

You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey

They pushed that girl in front of the train

Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again

Stabbed that man right in his heart

Gave him a transplant for a brand new start

I can’t walk through the park cause it’s crazy after dark

Keep my hand on my gun cause they got me on the run

I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw

Hear them say “You want some more?”

Livin’ on a see-saw

 

[Hook]

 

[Verse 5]

A child is born with no state of mind

Blind to the ways of mankind

God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too

Because only God knows what you’ll go through

You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate

And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate

The places you play and where you stay

Looks like one great big alleyway

You’ll admire all the number-book takers

Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers

Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens

And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh

Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers

Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers

You say “I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool”

But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school

Now you’re unemployed, all null and void

Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd

Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did

Got sent up for a eight-year bid

Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag

Spend the next two years as a undercover fag

Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell

Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell

It was plain to see that your life was lost

You was cold and your body swung back and forth

But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song

Of how you lived so fast and died so young so

[Hook]

 

This great work of Hip Hop Culture was a signal of the disparity that existed amongst the haves and have-nots here in NYC. It is still apparent where the disparity existed over 40 years ago. Those lines of stratification (scars) can still be seen on the geography – travel ways of NYC (bus, train, road, subway). It can be seen in the topography of the Bronx. It can be most distinctly heard on the music of the era and the area. I was forever changed by hip-hop music and the culture coming out of NYC in the 1980’s through the 1990’s as a young person. It continued in my adult life through the far-reaching effects of the dissemination of hip-hop culture in my community through people like Uncle Luke, 2 Live Crew, jam Pony Express, Dj Uncle Al, and the list goes on. But one thing remain, the fact that it was a folk music, and illegal to be played on most radio stations. It was the voice of the youth and the changing culture here in America. It was, like the above transcribed lyrics of that famous piece “The Message” a polaroid of the climatic time period in which it was created. This Polaroid is a reflection of the critical thinking that was happening during that time period. It is my assertion that Hip Hop Culture is not only an artistic expression of the counterculture in NYC during the 1970- 1990’s but more importantly it is a critical reflection of American culture. In critical theory terms, it helped a whole generation estrange themselves from the ideological sediment of the time.

 

SO, WHAT IS HIP HOP PEDAGOGY?

Pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching, esp. as an academic subject or theoretical concept.

To be involved in a Hip Hop Pedagogy is to welcome an invitation into the shared reality of those that are participants in it. It is to enable all of its inhabitants with the tools and choice to intervene in the transformation of their world. It is a solicitation to become more involved in democratic debate about the state of our society, culture, country and community on multiple layers and perspectives.  The discourse of power and freedom inherent in the subject of Hip-Hop culture is something that should be readily used in the instruction of the student. Typically, it’s the student’s want and need to develop a deeper understanding of the world and their place in it. The culture begs for the participant to share their voice in the debate. The history of Hip-Hop is one of controversy and crisis wrapped up in a palatable feast of beats & lyrics served on top of a plate of graffiti. The accompanying libation is a dark burgundy one named “Chateau de Breaking; popping and locking”, which is served in a wineglass constructed of community activism and multicultural advocacy (critical race theory).

So, what does Hip-Hop pedagogy look like? It is a contemporary form of democratic education, which invites heavy student involvement in the construction of the classroom and the lesson (Brooks & Brooks). It advocates for the whole development of the student as total human being, rather than simply as a citizen or participant. It evokes the development of the self and more specifically the individual’s voice. Hip-Hop is not merely the music of a specific ethnic or socio-economic group. It is a culture that developed, like many in American history out of the crisis, conflict and controversy of the time. More importantly it is a discourse that is centered on the concepts of power and freedom, and is inclusive of the educative process we call life.

Classes & courses that are developed in the domain of Hip-Hop pedagogy should make the participants question their surroundings, situatedness, and circumstances.  Hip-Hop pedagogy should also be a multilayered approach. It is one that engages students where they are and uses a variety of the elements found in the culture to proctor aesthetic experiences for and in the participants (disruptions). Hip-Hop pedagogy is a circuit that connects teacher & student, citizen & community and society & culture to one another. This circuit allows for the exchange of ideas and understandings, with the goal of joint meaning making to happen. It is elastic and flexible with a structure that is informed by the past (traditions), but bound only by the imagination.

Hip Hop Pedagogy should help immerse the participants in awareness in all of the various tenses that they exist (Past, present & Future). Past tense shall be defined as the critical reflection, Present tense is the acute awareness of “Now” and the Future tense is that of the ever evolving imagination of “What If.” These three tenses are all important in the development of the totality of the humanism that we all have. It’s not simply a means to end, or an end unto itself, but is more radically involved in the process of ever becoming more than before. Hip -Hop Pedagogy is a critical take on multiple openings and entry points contained in a relevant wrapper.

Hip-Hop is in its essential and rawest form, uses the power of the imagination. It takes place in the virtual space of the mind for those that implore it to express the lived world experiences that they’ve engaged in. Hip-Hop is dance, clothing, speech, literature, visual art, code & symbol, music, and everyday life. It is a way of living like those of jazz, country, rock, folk, punk, funk, soul and a whole myriad of other musical cultures that sprung up from the well-spring of America culture. Each of which have its own unique style of life.

Hip-Hop pedagogy should be centered on the concepts of agency, activism, and democracy, open spaces, open encounters, inclusion, lived worlds and shared realities. The lyrics of some of the finest hip-hop songs speak eloquently about the lived experiences (worlds) of those involved. They (songs) talk about socio-economic disparity in society and the discourse(s) of power and freedom. Hip-hop pedagogy is about creating an exchange in various forms on multiplicity of levels. The art of Banksy and Lee Quinone’s, the beats of J- Dilla and MF Doom, the lyrics of Rakim and Drake all speak for and about those in a similar group of society, or is it that they speak for every man? Everything that is folk (counterculture) ultimately becomes part of the popular. That point speaks to the cyclical nature of the various discourses involved in hip-hop culture and more specifically hip-hop pedagogy. It’s about the turning over of the traditional to make way for the innovation (R. Barthes). It’s about allowing the student the opportunity to be involved in crafting their understanding of the world around them while giving them voice.

How can we use Hip Hop Pedagogy, which I will help flush out the literature in future post – scholarship, in the domain of Music Education? Well, there lies the rub. American Music Education, that dubious character, first has to acknowledge Hip-Hop as a musical form worthy of study. Then and only then can we actively … as a whole use hip-hop pedagogy as a integrated part of music education in our classrooms. Let me clarify right now, there are band directors and art educators that have been and are currently using hip hop pedagogy in their classrooms and studio environments, all over American and furthermore .. the world. However, it is not currently accepted as a valid form or music or culture by academia and the aesthetic police. The aesthetic police are those that assert themselves to the grand title of judge of which aesthetic experiences as well as how they “should be” used in the context of learning. They are rarely correct, and even when they are …typically use this opportunity to pontificate about their rightness. We see this every week on the various news outlets, and can only surmise that this type of policing has been going on for sometime in culture..period.

 

So, if we are to have a through discussion on the use of Hip Hop Pedagogy in the Music Classroom… we must first start with the unpacking of the music’s validity. We must say that Hip Hop is real music and it is worthy of study in major universities and music programs. We also have to give room and space for all other forms of American folk, but that discussion can be tabled until another time soon coming.

I hope you enjoyed this first rant on the Hip Hop Pedagogy and Music Education. I will try my best to write as often and eloquently as I possibly can to showcase the need to talk about the power, effectiveness as well as the need for such programing.

 

-Best

 

Jarritt A Sheel