Preparing to Teach
Multicultural Music in the
Choral Classroom
Cat Bennett
Planning to Teach Multicultural
Music in the Choral Classroom
• Developing a Multicultural Choral
Education Rationale
• Celebrating diversity
• Current challenges in teaching multicultural
choral music
• Considerations for planning to teach with
music from different cultures
Planning to Teach Multicultural
Music in the Choral Classroom
• The value in utilizing culture-bearers
• A specific approach for building
multicultural choral lessons consisting of a
series of steps
• Korean Folk song unit example
• Explain your personal reasoning for using
diverse music from around the world in choir
• Answer the question: Why should I teach
multicultural music in the choral classroom?
Celebrating Diversity
• We want to celebrate the music in our own western
choral tradition, but that should not be the only
tradition we celebrate
• Be careful to avoid promoting elitist or prejudiced
thinking among students through music
• Students easily create stereotypes in music and may
come to believe that one type of music is better than
others or that one culture is better than others
• We become capable of things never thought
imaginable by learning from others who are
• Lack of choral world music resources
• Many in-service music teachers receive little
or no experience with multicultural music
education practices in college
• Teaching music from our own western music
tradition can challenging enough in itself
Beyond the Notes on the Page
• Teaching world music without discussion on culture
and context will hold little meaning to students
• Is enjoyment enough of a reason to teach such
• It is of great importance that foreign music be taught
with discussions on background, ensuring that
students are not making assumptions or forming
prejudices while learning
• In what is considered a sociocultural teaching
method, allow time to discuss what is different or
• Just what does it mean to be authentic in the
choral classroom?
• If a song cannot be taught authentically,
should it be taught at all?
• A sincere attempt to be accurate and
respectful of a culture is always important
• Choosing not to teach a music for fear of not
delivering it with perfect authenticity would
be a mistake.
• It is advisable to continuously seek new
information, find new resources and most
importantly, build new relationships with
those who have expertise in other styles of
• Can provide music repertoire and support in
language pronunciation and translation
• Can make learning experiences more
genuine by including discussions on history
and culture
Culture-bearers and Pedagogical
• Culture-bearers can provide students with a
more authentic learning experience
• If music is not written in standard notation,
how do we teach it? Or do we not teach it at
• We should not limit our selections to diverse
works from the mainstream publishers
Literature and Resources
• Most pre-service choral methods textbooks provide
limited examples or no examples at all on how to
teach music of other cultures.
• While some choral world music repertoire is
available from publishers such as Earthsongs,
selection is still quite limited.
• While it is common for multicultural publications to
include a pronunciation chart and English
translation, many may include no such information,
and few discuss any detail on the cultural
background and history of the piece.
• It is often the choral director’s responsibility to
research all necessary information
Literature and Resources
Some wonderful journal articles and
textbooks have been written on teaching
multicultural music, and since no known
studies or books exist specifically on the
topic of teaching world music in the choral
setting, choral directors must look to these
resources for guidance
Literature and Resources
Multicultural Perspectives in Music
Education, William Anderson & Patricia
Shehan Campbell (1989)
 Teaching Music Globally, Patricia Shehan
Campbell (2007)
 Facing The Music, Huib Schippers (2010
Developing an Approach
• Select a song or part of the world that you want to
build choral lessons or a unit from
• Feel confident that there are available resources for
teaching this song adequately
• Consider whether or not this music can hold value
or meaning for students.
• Discover the musical cultures of their classrooms
and communities
• Be certain that adequate time can be given to this
piece and style of music
Developing an Approach
• Select more than one song from that country for
instruction purposes
• Students must actively participate in this learning
process in order for the teaching of this music to
make any impression
• Complete a score analysis with specific and in-depth
focus should be on language and performance
• Look to the national standards to decide on the
objectives that students will achieve and
acknowledge what additional research you will need
to conduct in order to prepare lessons with such
objectives in mind
Final Questions to Consider
1) Will you try to honor the pedagogical tradition of this
culture by transmitting the music in an authentic way?
Consider and justify why or why not
2) Will you ensure that students develop informed opinions
about this music without confirming or building
stereotypes or prejudice towards a music or culture?
3) Will students be active, as opposed to passive,
throughout the learning process?
4) Do you have ways to clearly assess the standards you
have selected to ensure cultural and musical learning has
been achieved?
Korean Folk Song Unit Example

Powerpoint on Multicutural Music in the Choral