ACT 15 (3): 1–7

Editorial Introduction: The 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education (2015)

Loyola University New Orleans

June 2016

Published in Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 15 (3): 1–7. [pdf]

It is a distinct honor to serve as Guest Editor for this issue of Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 15 (3). I want to thank Vincent Bates, ACT Editor, and members of the MayDay Group for the opportunity to share papers presented at the 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education at Loyola University New Orleans in June 2015. I also want to thank guest review board members Joseph Abramo (University of Connecticut), Danielle Sirek (University of Windsor), and Nathan Kruse (Case Western Reserve University) for their expertise in maintaining a standard of quality for review, acceptance, and publication, in order to preserve the solid reputation of ISSME and ACT. I appreciate their time and efforts in review of these papers for publication.


The International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education
In April, 1995 an invited group of scholars from the United States, England, Canada, and Spain met on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to discuss how teachers and scholars might delimit the sociology of music education and how that discipline might address and resolve the many problems music educators confront in everyday teaching (Froehlich and Paul 1997). The group encountered aspects of the two scholarly traditions of the sociology of music and sociology of education that might intersect or meld to form specific sociological principles and methodologies that could guide teachers and researchers addressing problems of music teaching and learning.

The International Symposia on the Sociology of Music Education (ISSME) have been a primary conduit for the dissemination and discussion of scholarship on sociological issues related to music education since that first symposium at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA. The 9th conference held at Loyola University New Orleans from June 14–17, 2015 included 50 papers presented on aspects of theory, philosophy, research, and practice in the sociology of music education. The symposium welcomed research and scholarly investigations into a wide range of contexts, such as schools, universities, festivals, communities, the media, homes, and the Internet. In this meeting, music education was understood to include all forms of teaching and learning music—formal, informal and non-formal. Research from qualitative, quantitative, mixed-method and philosophical approaches were presented.

The ISSME 2015 keynote speaker, Dr. Roberta Lamb, presented her paper on Traveling from a Fourth Sociology: Pathways of Integration? as a segue linking the previous 2013 symposium in Hamar, Norway to the 2015 meeting in New Orleans, USA. Beginning with Wright’s (2014) idea of a sociology of integration and the ISSME 2013 published papers, Lamb examined the pathways (Finnegan 1989) presented in 2013 and those suggested by the titles and abstracts of ISSME 2015. ISSME founder Hildegard Froehlich also led a panel conversation on “Serving the public through music(k)ing: Turning our special interests into a public concern.” In this session, eleven panelists from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States addressed fundamental issues connected with grassroots efforts by music education scholars and practitioners to engage in a sociologically informed conversation about the place of sociological inquiry in their work.

The International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education collaborated with the MayDay Group which had its conference on June 17–20, 2015 in the same location. Therefore, there were two different conferences (i.e., ISSME2015; MDG27) at Loyola University New Orleans with one day of joint sessions on June 17, 2015. As a result, there were 70 researchers and scholars at all stages of their careers who participated in the ISSME2015 meeting, and a similar number of participants in the MayDay27 Conference. After this meeting, invitation was extended to presenters at the 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education for submissions of scholarly papers based upon those presented at the ISSME2015 meeting held at Loyola University New Orleans. Though submissions went through a light review, there was a standard of quality maintained for review, acceptance, and publication, in order to preserve the solid reputations of ISSME and ACT.

This issue offers select papers on a variety of topics presented at the 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The manuscripts of eleven authors—six from the United States (Joseph Abramo, Vincent Bates, Rachel Brashier, Charles Carson, Carol Frierson-Campbell, and Susie Lalama), three from Canada (Bina John, Danielle Sirelle, and Janice Waldron), one from Germany (Alexandra Kertz-Welzel), and one from Sweden (Maria Westvall) are presented in this ACT special edition.


The Papers
Vincent Bates draws an analogy between processes of land-grabbing or land enclosures and music education professionalization. He suggests that specializations in musicing and music teaching serve to discourage participation or create musical helplessness on the part of those who don’t view themselves as “musically inclined.” Bates recommends that music curriculum integration be considered a process of bringing things back together that shouldn’t have been divided in the first place, and stresses the importance of everyday musics and musicing in countering musical enclosure and in empowering generalist elementary teachers to include musical experiences in their classrooms and curriculum.

Bina John asserts that music is a distinct form of communication that manifests naturally when children are engaged in musical play regardless of their cultural backgrounds. The purpose of her study was to explore an innovative approach in early childhood music education that highlights creative musical play. Her case study utilizes an ethnographic approach of naturalistic, non-participant observations of two early childhood music classes located in a community school of music in Toronto, Canada. Combining the theoretical frameworks of tools of learning (Greenspan and Shankar 2004) and musical play, John examined the social and emotional behaviors that emerge as children engage in various forms of musical play. Findings of John’s study showed that musical communication is enhanced when young musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds are provided with an imaginative musical space that encourages and enables them to discover, perform, and share their own musical meanings.

Charles Carson and Maria Westvall argue for sustained and contextualized exposure to a variety of musics as a valuable means of developing valuable intercultural approaches in music education as well as in teacher education, approaches which integrate more norm-critical perspectives. Musical diversity in music education concerns issues of participation, citizenship and interaction, not just a presence and representation of differences. It is also about how institutions need to change to reflect the diversity of the society in which we now live, leading to both broadened knowledge, and broadened interest in music. They assert that music education needs to consciously be developed in such a way that it reflects—and is a dynamic part of—the society we live in today.

Alexandra Kertz-Welzel proposes that internationalization and globalization have created a global music education community which is not only linked by similar ideas, but also shares a common language. She contends that English functions as a global language and facilitates the international discourse in music education. However, while it is good to have a common language supporting international dialogue, it also has its clear downsides (e.g., in terms of the dominance of Anglo-American terminology and related music education concepts). Kertz-Welzel argues that in order to overcome this hegemony of Anglo-American music education, it is crucial to develop sensitivity towards the diversity of music education and research traditions and the challenges and opportunities of English as a global language in international music education. By using approaches from sociolinguistics and English for academic purposes, Kertz-Welzel argues for linguistic and cultural diversity in international music education research.

Rachel Brashier sought to examine informal learning processes through acts of music making in which individuals share music knowledge and learn together in an informal learning group setting. She studied how a group of people go about learning to chant Byzantine music in an informal setting within a Greek Orthodox Church in America, through what processes these individuals share music knowledge and learn together in the informal learning group, and how the phenomena of echo and embodiment occur within this informal learning setting. By looking at ways of learning music outside of traditional academic institutions and without the use of Western music notation, this project, concerning spaces and methods for music learning in social context, draws from the theoretical approaches to learning, teaching, and the sharing of knowledge within the fields of music education, education, and ethnomusicology.

Janice Waldron found emergent music learning and teaching models facilitated by global Web access to reveal alternative music education practices and delivery systems not seen in “traditional” conservatories and schools. In her study, one example of an alternative music learning model was revealed from the Online Academy of Irish Music (OAIM), a community music “school” specializing in teaching Irish traditional music (IrTrad), which is situated in both on ( and offline (Liscannor, Ireland) contexts. Using Thomas Turino’s (2008) ideas of “participatory music making” and Henry Jenkins’s (2006) concept of “participatory culture” as frameworks, her ongoing ethnographic/ cyberethnographic field study explored how Irish traditional music was learned by OIAM’s students at its “offline” summer school flute week in July 2013 in Lisconnor, Ireland. Waldron discovered the while Turino’s and Jenkins’ ideas come from wildly divergent fields— ethnomusicology and new media respectively—both are based on similar social learning ideals, that, when integrated, have broader implications for music learning and teaching.

Joseph Abramo studied marching band identity by examining marching band enthusiasts’ and music educators’ responses on music teacher professional forums, Twitter, blogs, and other online media to sports commentator Jim Rome’s tweets describing marching band members as “dorks.” Using a framework of alterity—or the otherness that complements identity—and a methodology of social constructionist discourse analysis, he found that social media users: 1) claimed that they were proud to be “band dorks”; 2) argued that Rome’s comments fit into a narrative of jocks harassing band geeks; 3) asserted that there are many proponents of marching band and that it appeals to a general population; and 4) addressed Rome’s tweet in order to critically reflect on marching bands’ role in society and education. From his findings, Abramo contends that educators may pay careful attention to how alterity and the “imagined Other” play a role in music student identity, student motivation, advocacy efforts, and how they participate in social media.

Carol Frierson-Campbell presents the evolution of a sociological framework to investigate the experience of teaching and learning music in relation to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in the occupied Palestinian territories. The primary foundation of the framework is Christopher Small’s (1998) theory of musicking, supported by the concept of third place from urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg (1999) and the reconceptualization of music education as cultural practice suggested by educational researcher Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández (2007, 2011). Preliminary findings from her work suggest that Small’s theory is particularly apt because of its focus on ideal relationships between infinite combinations of people, places, and sounds. Frierson-Campbell’s resultant framework is based on a concept that goes beyond the role of the ESNCM as a place, to query the relationships participants experienced—with place, with each other, and with music—in the process of musicking.

Danielle Sirek presents a historical case study of Grenada, where music was deliberately used as a method of supporting perceived social and political binaries, and sheds light upon the power dynamics that are at play when we uplift certain musics in the classroom and silence others. The role of music in Grenada, West Indies has traditionally been to pass on knowledges, values, and ideals, and to provide a means of connecting to one another through expressing commonality of experience, ancestry, and nationhood. Her paper explores how Eric Matthew Gairy, during his era of political leadership in Grenada (1951–1979), exploited the transmission and performance of music in very specific ways to further his career politically and exert power over Grenadian society.

Susie Lalama explored connections among perceived caring climate, empathy, and student social behaviors in high school bands. Nine high school band directors along with their students (N = 203), completed an electronic questionnaire for variables of caring climate, cognitive empathy, affective empathy, social behaviors, and victimization. A multiple linear regression was performed and results showed that cognitive empathy predicted positive social behavior. Results from T-test and ANOVA found that students had higher perceptions of caring climate when (a) teachers remained at the school for more than five years, (b) bands had smaller enrollments, (c) schools were Title One schools, and (d) when students did not hold leadership positions in band. Lalama found that teachers and students generally perceive the caring climate similarly, with the teachers having slightly higher levels of perceived caring climates compared to their students. When looking at the relationships among perceived caring climate, empathy, and student social behaviors, cognitive empathy and positive student behaviors had positive relationships. Positive social behaviors were positively linked with the ability to understand someone’s emotions.

The papers in this Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 15 (3), Special Edition are only a minute representation of those presented at the 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. As is the case during these biennial meetings, each report stimulated thoughtful contemplation, reflection, and discussion. The accounts presented here reflect those ruminations to the degree that their authors chose to integrate them into their final manuscripts. Therefore, the papers in this publication document important points to stimulate thought and prospects for further dialogue and discussion. Organizers of the 10th International Symposium on the Sociology in London, England in 2017 might consider the ideas presented in this issue and recent symposium to stimulate new ideas and intriguing trains of thought, future dialogue, interaction, and research of its members, and perhaps most important of all, action for change in and through music education.

About the Guest Editor

Edward McClellan is the Mary Freeman Wisdom Distinguished Professor of Music, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education at Loyola University New Orleans. His degrees are from Duquesne University (BSME; MME) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (PhD). Dr. McClellan has published research in the Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Contributions to Music Education, and Music Educators Journal. Dr. McClellan serves on the Advisory Committee for the Music Educators Journal and Editorial Board of TOPICS; He is Chair of the Perception and Cognition Special Research Interest Group (SRIG) and recent Chair of the Social Sciences Special Research Interest Group (SRIG) of the National Association for Music Education, Facilitator of the School-University Partnership ASPA for the Society of Music Teacher Education, and LMEA Collegiate Division Chair of the National Association for Music Education.


Dyndahl, Petter, Sidsel Karlsen, and Ruth Wright. 2014. Exploring the sociology of music education. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 13 (1): 1–11.

Finnegan, Ruth H. 1989. The hidden musicians: Music-making in an English town. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.

Froehlich, Hildegard, Daryl Coan, and Roger Rideout. 2003. Sociology of music education symposium III: Social dimensions of music, music teaching, and learning. Amherst, MA: Department of Music and Dance, University of Massachusetts.

Froehlich, Hildegard, and Stephen Paul. 1997. Introduction. Edited by Roger Rideout. On the sociology of music education. Norman: School of Music University of Oklahoma.

Greenspan, Stanley, and Stuart Shankar. 2004. The first idea. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Gaztambide-Fernández, Rubén A. 2011. Musicking in the city: Reconceptualizing urban music education as cultural practice. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 10 (1): 15–46.

———. 2007. Inner, outer, and in-between: Why popular culture and the arts matter for urban youth. Orbit 36 (3).

Lamb, Roberta. 2015. Traveling from a fourth sociology: Pathways of integration? Keynote address presented at 9th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Oldenburg, Roy. 1999. The great good place: Cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons, and other hangouts at the heart of a community. Second edition. New York: Marlowe and Company.

Small, Christopher. 1998. Musicking: The meanings of performance and listening. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.

Wright, Ruth. 2014. The fourth sociology and music education: Towards a sociology of integration. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 13 (1): 12–39.