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Exploring Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Emerging Practices
in Music Education

Through constructivist explorations of hip hop and remixing, I collaborated with colleagues and worked independently to explore modern music production and music genres often undervalued and marginalized within formal educational spaces. Through hip hop pedagogy and remixing I discovered how students can utilize music production and writing to creatively express their own opinions on culturally relevant topics, beyond interpreting and performing the compositions of others. By incorporating hip hop and remixing into pedagogical practice, teachers can provide both rigor and creativity, as students utilize critical thinking and problem solving skills to compose, synthesize, respond to, and perform music through practice that is inherently interdisciplinary, infusing language arts, STEM, civics, and history into the music curriculum.

Hip Hop and Children's literature

This project could easily be modified for a middle school general music classroom or used with high school students. Elementary music teachers can also present children's literature with their own hip hop backing tracks. In my own experience, even very young children are much more engaged with literature when musical elements of rhythm and rhyme are either enhanced or added to the performance.

Contemporized Hip Hop Collaboration

This project was a collaboration with a colleague, contemporizing the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" to address modern social justice topics. The three bears in this story are an interracial, intercultural family, faced with a home invader, representing colonization and cultural appropriation. We utilized comedy to address insidious messages of  primitivism, modern uses of technology to confront racism, and the very real danger posed by weaponized tears. Hip hop pedagogy allows for such creative collaborations,  borrowing from the collectivist cultures of hip hop to foster independent learning, and critical analysis of systems and culture.

Remix Project

Through this remixing exploration, my colleagues and I were able to teach ourselves how to navigate music production technology. I played with transposition, timing and meter, texture, and redefining musical genres. I chose to sample and remix two contrasting songs by jazz and blues musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone. While the message of "Blackbird" speaks of oppression and pain, "Feeling Good" speaks of joy and freedom. To weave the two narratives together, I sampled the instrumental line of Johnny Cash's arrangement of the spiritual "Ain't No Grave" and audio of Maya Angelou reading her poem "Still I Rise," both of which evoke resilience and triumph in overcoming.

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