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Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education

Page 6 of 28

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twenty years the Americans have been rather more eager than the Europeans to depart from doctrinaire aspects of postwar modernism and to adopt a variety of simpler styles that often incorporate elements from pop and rock – all blend[ed] (p. 208).” He further argues that popular music has a value that nourishes classical composers. In line with this, Rahn (1994) comments,

the opposition between high and low art no longer distinguishes so much two audiences as two attitudes. The traditional dichotomy has the residual value of differentiating between those who are “cultured” and those who are not. But the most explicitly “cultured” persons—particularly academics—tend with increasing frequency to emerge from lower middle class strata where they have merely been exposed to popular culture but formed a part of its normal audience (p. 40). Simms’s statement alerts us to the impact of popular music in society, while

Rahn points out the blurred boundary between classical and popular music, as well as the emergence of a ‘cultured’ sector whose members grew up under the impact of popular music. Popular music, under the promotion of the mass media, is already part of people’s ordinary life. This happens in many parts of the world where the mass media—like television, radio, and Internet—are commonly available. According to Green (2003), most young people, including those learning classical instruments, are enculturated into popular music. It constitutes not only the current cultural context of the adolescent, but also has roots extended from traditional musics (Wong, 1997). The teaching of popular music can further enhance and deepen students’ understanding of it as well as of music at large. As such, its role in school music education is extremely vital.

With the hegemony of Western classical music, which is described as being Eurocentric or as having ethnocentric bias (Regelski, 2003), and the growing dominance of popular music (Meyer, 1996), traditional music has been ignored in the past century in many parts of the world. In this study, it should be noted that traditional music refers to the classical and folk traditions, both of which are pertinent to the students’ education. Pascall (1992) is concerned that the domination of popular culture may deprive the students of their understanding of the inheritance from tradition that has shaped society today. He stresses that teachers should teach key traditions and influences within such heritage, including popular music. Although

Leung, C. (2004). Building a New Music Curriculum: A Multi-faceted approach. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education. Vol.3, #2 (July 2004). http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Leung3_2.pdf

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