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[Xmca-l] Re: Non-formal music education for working-class children

It is not true as Workers' Dreadnought claims that working class has been totally excluded from classical music by elitism. This ignores the British brass band tradition which was (is?) rooted in working class communities and usually originated in particular workplaces. Famous bands include the Black Dyke Mills band, the Grimethorpe Colliery band and Foden's (a vehicle manufacturer). They were sometimes directly sponsored by employers but also were often financed by the players themselves and had links to the labour movement. As well as appearing on the streets for ceremonies ranging from the religious to the political (e.g. the Durham Miners' Gala), they also perform in concert halls and have had music written for them by well known classical composers. Some have survived the disappearence of the workplaces they came from, though others have not. The film 'Brassed Off' is well worth watching both for an idea of the tradition and its links to working class communities and its decline.

Also in cities like Manchester there has been (I'm not sure it's still true) a working class audience for the Halle Orchestra. Plus the Welsh choir tradition.

It is true that these have been in decline and is I think directly linked to the decline of distinct work-related communities in the UK, the easy provision of alternative entertainment and, as Dreadnought says, cuts to the provision of music education in schools both because of its marginalisation in the National Curriculum and more recently the removal of music education from schools to 'hubs' which are failing. I don't think it has much to do with the pressure of the working day which was worse in past times or the need for concentration.

Bruce R

On 05/12/2013 02:22, Ulvi İçil wrote:
It seems that my research's subquestions is the contact of the working -
class with Western classical music. It also seems to me that this can be a
research of critical ethnography. Any idea on this, or a better proposal
for research method?

For instance, I found this:


"It cannot be denied that the working classes have slowly ceased to be the
large sections of classical music audiences. This has to do in part with
changes in tastes, which itself is the result of a changing social
formations (including as I mentioned earlier the active dismantling of
rigorous arts education in public schools due to smaller school budgets
which thus robs children a system of reference by which to enjoy classical
music unless their parents provide it for them, many of whom have similarly
been stripped of such an education) and the time and attention one has to
listen to a given piece (this of course has to do with the relationship
between the pressures of the working day and the need to fill ‘downtime’
with mindless ‘entertainment’), but also due to the elitism that has
pervaded classical music in the 20th century".


It is this elitism that non-formal music instruction for working-class
children is breaking and here it lies its importance because I think that
bourgeois society can be best defined as the society for bourgeois in which
working-class lives and is allowed to live somehow. Allowed, because in
countries like Turkey, the working -class is implicitly told to stay behind
a certain line and not to go beyond this line. It is for this reason that
they do not frequent elitist classical music concert halls and when they
fill such concert halls, usual spectators are surprised with their

In fact, I believe that "elitism that has pervaded classical music in the
20th century" was to a large extent peculiar to capitalist societies.
There was no such elitism in Soviet Union for instance. On the contrary,
working -  class masses were enjoying Richter, Gilels, and Oistrakh in
Moscow Conservatory ... Cd booklets repeating again and again "the
pressure" on Shostakovich do not mention this huge mass and working-class
character of the enjoyment of classical music in Soviet Union...and in
other socialist countries...

The pianist of this society also was quite different. Richter, not being a
party member and a communist,  I have read that one day he took his car and
went to Siberia where he gave concerts during six months in small  towns
and big cities!

Lastly, I remember also having read that people from Moscow were also going
from time to time to Siberia to ask for "talented" students having good
ears etc, surely not an elitist education, but looking for talents within a
huge population which receives a good minimum music education, but an
elevated minimum.

Compared with this experience, even though they are very noble efforts,
today's experiences remain and are deemd to remain very limited, except
perhaps El Sistema in Venezuela.

2013/12/5 Bruce Robinson <bruce@brucerob.eu>

Wow! They certainly manage to line up some great names for their master
classes.  Jazzmobile founded by Billy Taylor does similar work in New York
and the late Horace Tapscott did in LA, I think.

Bruce R

On 04/12/2013 11:16, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

Ulvi, I can't directly answer your inquiry, which I'm happy to see posed
here. But I can direct you to an incredibly successful organization that
focuses on jazz rather than classical music.
http://jazzhousekids.org/home.php is run by singer Melissa Walker and
her husband, bass player Christian McBride (probably the world's greatest
jazz bassist at this point) in the Newark, NJ area. I know of it because my
brother is chair of their board (and McBride's 3rd favorite bass player, I
might add, after Ray Brown, whose bass McBride plays, and Jaco Pastorius).

They do collect whatever they can find that justifies the role of music
in education and beyond, and include lists of benefits and outcomes,
although I don't know how many of them have empirical support beyond what
the people in the program find through their work with kids. I've written a
couple of checks, and a couple of pieces supporting what they do:

Smagorinsky, P. (2013, January 21). My View: Hear the music - STEM
studies aren't the only path to a better future. CNN Schools of Thought.
Available at http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/22/hfr-my-

Walker, M., & Smagorinsky, P. (2013, January 1). The power of school
music programs: Students come for the music and stay for the math. Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. Available at http://blogs.ajc.com/get-

These brief essays are not research, but describe how their programs do a
great job with a whole lot of kids in providing what I've called a positive
social updraft in their lives through music.

Anyhow, hope this helps, and that if anyone's got a few bucks to donate
to a good cause, they keep this great outfit in mind. p

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@
mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Ulvi Içil
Sent: Wednesday, December 04, 2013 4:46 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Non-formal music education for working-class children

Dear all,

Does any body know for any experience in which a master or Ph.D. thesis
is written for an experience in which low income children learn playing
music instruments for Western classical music and this process, together
with children's changes also the lives of  the parents, functioning as a
learning process for parents also, in overall changing the interactions
between children and parents, and children themselves.


Status: O