World Music Pedagogy as Pathway to Intercultural Understanding

Prof. Patricia Shehan Campbell


The convergence of music, education, and diversity is notable within the frame of World Music Pedagogy (WMP), in which intercultural understanding is realized through remarkable experiences within school music programs. With a commitment to meeting diversity mandates in educational settings, WMP emerged from 40 years of cross-talk and collaboration of educators with ethnomusicologists as a means for understanding music as a global phenomenon. Previous efforts for teaching world music are commendable although pedagogically unsystematic and incomplete, often superficial, sometimes disconnected from sound through notation-only “materials”, and thus are incapable of meeting aims of musical and cultural understanding that are timely and necessary. Democratically speaking, WMP considers the complexities of diversifying the musical content of curricula, the intercultural facets of the teaching-learning interface, and the myriad ways in which social justice is achieved through transformative course design. It acknowledges the importance of recordings (when circumstances do not allow for the hiring of culture-bearing artist-musicians) to initiate and advance learning, and it offers a pathway for children, youth, and adult learners to know music by listening, participating in and performing it, engaging in creative-inventive variations of it, and understanding the meaning and value of the music to “source musicians”. As intercultural education seeks to promote an understanding of people in a wide array of cultures, World Music Pedagogy provides pathways for supporting students to grow more widely and deeply musical, as well as more culturally compassionate, through a pedagogical process that considers music as sound, behavior, and cultural meaning.