FSEM1010-30.FSEM: Social Just thrugh Music.F16.Greene,Janet

Faculty Name

Janet Greene

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Course Section


Course Title

FSEM: Social Just thrugh Music

Academic Term and Year

Fall 2016



Area of Study


Course Description

We are swimming in music-listening choices yet are missing the most valuable and powerful attribute of music - actual singing and playing together. Across the United States music education has been cut to the bone in public school programs; particularly hard hit are the least advantaged school districts. Families used to have a piano in the living room. Those pianos have been replaced by the television, computer, and game consoles. Lack of access to music education is a social justice issue. The reality is that learning to play and sing and become literate in music is increasingly the privilege of the affluent. What have we lost as individuals and at the societal level? There is evidence that music participation and education can uplift disadvantaged sectors of society. Path-breaking work has been done by leaders of neighborhood, city-wide and country-wide music programs that have engaged disadvantaged groups in their societies and delivered remarkable results. Our seminar will examine several of these case studies from El Sistema in Venezuela to the Harlem Boys Choir in New York City. We will explore the opportunities, or lack thereof, for music learning in our own backyard. Research will also touch on the arts more generally – theatre, poetry, visual art, and dance, as well as the historical context of high and low art in Western culture and the relationship of music and society in non-western cultures.

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