chapter
14 Pages

Introduction—Catalysts for Change

Activist-Musicians in Music Education
ByJuliet Hess

Drawing upon the perspectives of 20 activist-musicians from the United States and Canada, this introduction describes my interest and investment in putting forward an activist music education rooted in principles of social justice and anti-oppression. The introduction situates activist music education as a crucial initiative both to respond to ongoing oppression and to educate youth to develop collective, expressive, and critical thinking skills in order to someday create non-oppressive systems. Music has long played a role in activism and resistance. Drawing upon a rich tradition of musical activism, the introduction historicizes the manner in which educators can position music education as part of a long-term response to events. A definition of activism frames the text, and the activist-musicians interviewed are introduced demographically. (Appendix A contains a more complete compilation of biographies.) Activist-musicians engaged in an artistic practice while simultaneously working for social change in some way. This book explores their musics and philosophies, positioning these activist-musicians as catalysts for change in music education. The introduction concludes with a brief discussion of the alignments of activist-musicians’ perspectives with Freirian critical pedagogy and provides an outline of the chapters to follow.