chapter  5
20 Pages

Music Education as Political

ByJuliet Hess

Music is inherently political. Drawing on activist-musicians’ perspectives, this chapter conceptualizes music education rooted in a culture of questioning, through which youth learn to notice and question the ideologies, messages, and representations they encounter. This chapter actualizes a culture of questioning in three phases: youth notice and identify the ideologies shaping all of their encounters, recognize the lived conditions of self and others, and move to action. Moving through these three phases encourages youth to develop and value their own critical perspectives. Activist-musicians suggested ways in which educators could facilitate youth to notice ideologies circulating in the discourses and actions of authority figures, in representations in media and educational resources, and in music lyrics. They helped youth recognize the conditions shaping their lives through exploring music and by engaging in courageous conversations. Subsequently, facilitating a move to action involves educators purposefully shaping an environment in which youth can dissent following analysis, engaging the imagination in dreaming musical practices uninhibited by societal oppression, and providing socially conscious exemplars for youth to model their own creative work. Ultimately, moving to action includes creating music that enacts the culture of questioning by exploring youth’s own experiences.