This project involved the study of nongak, a style of Korean folk music, as performed by Samul Nori, a well-known Korean drumming group and, in turn, the teaching of Samul Nori’s music to a class of middle school students at Seoul Foreign School. It represents one teacher’s effort to respond to the unique needs presented by a particular school environment. As such, it presents a method for the gathering of material from one’s immediate community and its adaptation to a specific student population. It may also act as a catalyst for those interested specifically in Korean music and its use in an American curriculum music classroom.
In order to gather material for the project, the author initiated a continuing relationship with the professional staff at Hanulim, Samul Nori’s nonprofit corporation. He studied privately and in group settings on the changgo, a Korean hourglass drum. During this time, he was exposed to a recently developed method of sequential instruction. As part of this ongoing study, he engaged in a regular individual practice routine and researched the theoretical, pedagogical and historical background of Samul Nori.
Near the end of his study, the author undertook to plan and present a class in Samul Nori performance at the Middle School at Seoul Foreign School, where he was employed as an elementary and middle school music specialist. Samul Nori’s method of instruction was then adapted to the classroom setting. In this setting, the author and a class of seven students formed a performing ensemble which gave several performances, engaged in a number of critical and creative thinking activities and instructed a group of younger students. Throughout the course of study, students learned via language surrogates (mnemonics) and a tablature form of notation unique to Korean percussion music.
As a result of the project the students involved expressed an enthusiasm for the music and interest in continuing its study in the future. Administrative support for the project and for its continuation was also strong. In a step towards a curriculum which articulates music as a global human phenomenon, this project expanded a Western music program to include one radically different music. Recognizing that pedagogical models also have cultural implications, the music was taught on its terms, using methods consistent with current practice within its culture.