Teacher Orientation to Popular Music #HipHopMusicEd

#HipHopMusicEd

Music educators your lack of experience w/ and/or interest in popular American music limits not only your experience, but that of your students in the musicking classroom.

As I get older I am starting to understand that the only limits that exist in my classroom are those that I and my students create. I am currently researching the preferences and dispositions of preservice teachers and the education programs they are involved in. It’s important that we all understand that teacher orientation is typically dictated by teacher pedagogy and methods courses they are engaged during study. This is sets the foundation for what many teachers (professionals) will use as their teaching premise for the rest of their careers. The more limited, or shallow, these types of musical experiences that student-teachers have, the more likely they are to replicate them in their future teaching. This is evident in the limited selection of performance formats found throughout American music classrooms.

Teaching programs should in theory, be a place where student-teachers muddle through diverse experiences that are suppose (purposed) to help bring the unknown into the space of the known (Dewey). We have to stop replicating what we think is unequivocal permanent fact, and start trying to meet our students where they are and engage in relevant learning activities. Critical Hip-Hop Pedagogies are a wonderful set of approaches to bringing in relevance into the music classroom. Let’s help children find relevance in our classrooms by we ourselves, as teachers, tackling difficult topics with hip-hop pedagogies (practice, lens, bridge). Most teachers only replicate the experiences they have had in their learning experiences and rarely move outside of this paradigm. So, how do we repair this rigid range (limited) of experiences?

Let’s take the clarion call of such educators, ethnomusicologists and scholars like Adam Kruse, Barbara Lindquist, Randall Allsup, Lucy Green, and many others that ask us to question the familiar, and engage in a search of the practices of popular music and musicians. There is so much rich, diverse and important topics that can be uncovered in working with popular music. The first step is that teachers con not simply stay in the lane of practitioners, but have to also move into the lane of researcher. Practicing these popular forms of music can have deep benefits, and can help us gain so much through critical reflection. Students are worried about you being cool because you are authentic, they are in your class to learn and grow. They relate to you because of the level of honesty and how you share the ways in which you came to understand the topic. Reading a chapter and simply sharing this isn’t enough. Popular music forms have to be taught in various formats in undergraduate programs in order for change to happen. Let’s start now, to honor the great music of America. Let’s celebrate the J-Dilla’s, Stevie Wonder’s, Stephen Foster’s, Irving Berlin’s, Kanye West’s, Eminem’s, Katie Perry’s, James Brown’s, Johnny Cash’s, Wille Nelson’s, Louis Jordan’s, Miles Davis’, Wynton Marsalis’, Pete Seegers, and Kendrick Lamar’s of the music world. If we start with our teachers we can open up spaces of inquiry in our music classrooms that have never really existed before. Let’s tackle these forms, genres and topics.

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Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

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Maya Angelou Quote

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-SalemNorth Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton‘s inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy‘s inauguration in 1961.

With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou’s major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.

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