Saturday, January 17, 2009

Familar Institutions

The festschrift piece is done. Looking at a couple of musical revivals--old-time Appalachian string band music, and New England contradance music--and the institutions these revivalist musicians and dancers created to sustain them, without external support and beyond merely getting together to make music and dance, I realized that they rely on the familiar, such as the school, the newsletter, the internet (not familiar to all) and the summer music camp to pass it along. That's not surprising, as these white collar folks are capable bureaucratic managers and these familiar institutions can be run by them without much difficulty and with the kind of cameraderie that keeps the community going, so long as there's enough money to keep them going. At the same time, they build in alternatives to middle-class schooling more in keeping with the traditional cultures as they have experienced them; for instance, musical instruction tends to be by ear and imitation, rather than the method book and note reading of childhood piano or violin lessons.

1 comment:

  1. This trend is interesting! I would think the support behind culturally traditional teaching methods as opposed to that of a linear "Western" learning environment has partly to do with the respect these musicians have developed for the tradition in which they play. Although I am sure they do not begrudge the "Western" teachings they may have had as children, a perspective is gained along the culturally traditional path that appeals to the understanding of relative modes of learning making traditionally "Western" ways of learning less-important, even non-important in the scheme of things.

    Also, I would say there may be something to the "feel" of a sound that is not always captured in linear music teachings that make this form of learning less inviting. And the camaraderie of the learning experience is also sometimes lost in general modes of "Western" music learning.

    ...just a thought