Archive for the ‘experts’ Tag

Community Music – on masters and other matters

Readers, you would be forgiven for thinking that my recent time in China was just one big bout of tourist dallying. But no, the ISME conferences I attended (the Community Music Activity Commission Seminar in Hangzhou and the Main Conference in Beijing) were full days, filled with ideas and discussions, papers and note-taking, and the excitement of being in China took up what little spare time was left.

But I’ve been processing and digesting all those ideas.The next few posts will look at some of the things that particularly caught my imagination, in relation to my current work and the work I am about to undertake in Timor-Leste.

The ‘master’ in Community Music

I started off in Hangzhou at the Community Music Activity Commission’s seminar. On the first day, several presentations looked at the way the music knowledge is transferred in community music settings, including wind bands in Bahia, Brazil, and the learning models of Capoeira Angola. Both presentations referred to the word ‘master’ (as in ‘master teacher’ or ‘band master’ or to be synonymous with ‘expert’). This opened up some interesting discussion on words like ‘master’, in particular when they are used in a community music context that may otherwise be intending to reduce or sidestep traditional hierarchical walls. “How can we ‘reload’ this term?” Lee Higgins (Boston University) asked. When does a word or notion like ‘master’ support the intentions of the work, and when could it (knowingly or unknowingly) undermine them? It bestows power upon an individual and power can be misused, so it is important to frame the word or establish its meaning in context.

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