Implementing, Developing, and Maintaining an Authentic African Music Program in an Elementary School

July 30, 2012 / By: Katherine J. Crockett

This discussion explored the thoughts and actions taken by one elementary music teacher who made the decision to incorporate an authentic African music program and high-level performing ensemble into her existing school music curriculum.  The decision and planning stages that were taken to build this program over the course of six years, at the time of this writing, were based on her own experiences learning African music from an authentic teacher.  This paper is written in the form of an “autoethnography,” an approach to research and writing that describes and analyzes one’s personal experience, which, as a method, is both a process and a product.[1]

It is imperative that music educators recognize the cultural and global influences that are brought into today’s music classrooms by the many different ethnic backgrounds of our student populations.  Although most music educators “expose” their students to multicultural music, many are not sensitive to the authenticity that should accompany this teaching.  The goal of this discussion is to inform teachers of steps and procedures that could, and should be taken to incorporate a long term, authentic program at their school, and what it would take to maintain it.  Although this process could be used for many different genres of music, this teacher is a proponent and strongly recommends West African music for it’s cultural attitude that there is a place in the music for everyone—whatever the skill level—they can all co-exist and share in the musical experience.