Recently, I’ve been critically examining a common defense of “world music” in our schools. Music educators frequently cite multiculturalism and globalization as the impetus for including such ensembles. While I don’t disagree with this line of reasoning, it is not a fully reasoned argument for such inclusions.
If we extended the same argument to history, we would be unable to cover all of the histories intertwined with our students’ ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The same is true of music and our ensemble offerings.
Non-western music is often created based on different values, meanings, functions, and musical hierarchies than Western art music. These components are the essential concepts being added to the music curriculum when such ensembles are added to a curriculum. These concepts are obviously not mutually exclusive from the multiculturalism/globalization argument, but instead provide depth to the argument that allows us to justify the ensemble through curricular standards for music. More along these lines to come . . .