R.I.P. Freddie Hubbard

. . . one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time passed away today.

Among Freddie Hubbard's fine recordings is his unforgettable solo on the title track to Herbie Hancock's album Maiden Voyage (1965, Blue Note Records). In the same period he also contributed some highly innovative playing to Eric Dolphy's landmark avant garde album Out to Lunch (1964). In recent decades, some of Freddie Hubbard's great recordings have been from live performances in Japan with the group V.S.O.P.

Link for more information:

Music for All

Cochlear Implants may soon enable the deaf to experience music.


Why Become a Music Professor?

It can seem at times that the path to becoming a music professor is quite long and difficult, and that in the end it might even turn out to not be worthwhile. Why is this so?

Here, for example, is a link to Sarah Schmalenberger’s brilliant review of musicologist Henry Kingsbury’s recent book that paints an unprecedentedly bleak picture of the field of ethnomusicology (p. 38):

Regardless of the extent to which Kingsbury’s account may (or may not) turn out to be very reliable, his tragic reflections provide unusually penetrating insights into the kinds of formidable challenges that are too often encountered during the early stages of an academic career in music. Such writings are certainly not for the faint of heart, and should be approached with the same kind of cautious skepticism reserved for other books in a similar vein, such as Mozart in the Jungle. Still, there is something to be learned from this genre, as long as it does not inspire prejudice or paranoia among its readers, especially for those who would otherwise enter academia with naïve expectations. This genre also provides important food for thought as one strives to envision improved policies and procedures for academic governance, management, and evaluation that might prevent the recurrence of perceived injustices, whether real or merely imagined. All devoted music teachers should be given good reason to feel genuinely appreciated by their superiors and peers, and all should also give (and be given) the benefit of the doubt, rather than allowing differences to turn into destructive hostility.

It seems best to keep in mind that despite the kinds of challenges discussed by Schmalenberger and Kingsbury (from different perspectives), there are obvious signs of improvement within higher education music programs throughout much of the world, and many find that after enduring some difficulties the teaching, performing, and researching of music becomes a highly enjoyable and fulfilling profession. There are still many good reasons to become a music professor, and many prospective colleagues in the field of music who are genuinely admirable people.
* Music professors make a positive difference by helping others to better understand music and enjoy participation in musical activities, as well as by advancing their art form.

* Music professors also expand musical knowledge through research, and devise new ways to more effectively create and share music.

Here is a link to a helpful article on "employability" in the field of music:

Here is a link to an article that, although a bit simplistic at times, makes some useful points regarding the process of becoming a music professor. Its contents are particularly relevant to prospective teachers of music performance:


Projects in Early 2009

In addition to mentoring doctoral students (who I hope to see finish their degrees soon), I will be working on several music projects in early 2009: Books, grant applications, lectures, recording sessions, program development, and research editing.


I am currently writing a chapter entitled “Ethnicity and Music Education: Sociological Dimensions” for the book Sociology and Music Education (Ed., Ruth Wright) that will be published on Ashgate Press. In recent months I have completed chapters for the books De-Canonizing Music History (Cambridge Scholars Press), Music Education for Changing Times: Guiding Visions for Practice (Springer), and Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (Rowman-Littlefield), as well as for my own book Wind Bands and Cultural Identity in Japanese Schools (Springer), all of which will be published in 2009.


In 2009 I will be applying for funding to support some Nordic research associated with the global Sustainable Futures in Music project of Huib Schippers. I am also currently designing a proposal for a multi-national research project on the use of new music technologies in targeted urban centers of Europe, Asia, and North America.


I will be giving lectures on music-related topics in ten countries in 2009. The first of these is a keynote lecture on “How Music Education Research Approaches Music” in Orebro, Sweden for the Nordic Network of Research in Music Education. The topics of other presentations include “Virtuality and Music Education in Online Environments,” “On Maori music,” and “Institutionalizing Popular Music Pedagogy: Lessons from Jazz Education.” I am also currently planning a conference presentation in collaboration with Marja Heimonen.


I will finally be spending some time in the recording studio in early 2009 to record several new original songs I wrote over the past few years. I am also producing some original music for New Zealand playwright Susan Battye's Telling Tales book series and singing with Kampin Laulu in a recording session for their CD on Alba Records.

Program Development

Lauri Vakeva and I have recently developed a proposal for a Master of Music degree with emphasis in popular music pedagogy, for which we will be seeking partnerships and external funding from music industry and various foundations. As a member of the GLOMUS network of Nordic higher education music academies, I am also contributing to development of a new inter-institutional Nordic Master of World Music degree.


Soon the editorial board will release a "Call for Papers" for a special issue of the Finnish Journal of Music Education on multicultural music education, for which I am serving as Guest Editor in mid-2009. I am also continuing on the Editorial Board of Research and Issues in Music Education and as Associate Editor of International Journal of Education and the Arts for at least a few more months. Alexandra Kertz-Welzel and I will also move forward with resubmitting our proposal for a co-edited book to academic publishers.


Slatkin and Music Research

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press celebrates renowned American conductor Leonard Slatkin’s premier as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on December 11, 2008: http://www.freep.com/article/20081212/ENT04/81212013/1039/ent

In the article, Slatkin, who is acknowledged as “one of the leading American conductors of his generation,” is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to hear about the impact of music education on SAT scores.” Why would Slatkin make such a statement regarding music and standardized tests? Searches through international music research databases reveal only one notable publication that discusses the impact of music education on SAT scores:

Music makes the difference: Music, brain development, and learning. Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference (MENC) 2000.

Slatkin’s remarks may be interpreted as a subtle rebuke of those who disseminate dubious and irrelevant research claims as part of their “advocacy” efforts on behalf of American school music programs. But why should the unique problems of American school music advocacy be of concern to leading musicians? It is important to recognize here that some music educators consider budget cuts to school music programs to constitute an emergency situation for which an “anything goes” approach to advocacy is acceptable. If research can be found that suggests, for example, that students will die of scurvy if they do not receive a daily dose of music education and cod liver oil, some would probably use it as a basis for their advocacy efforts to “save” music.

Slatkin seems to understand the fundamental reasons why this regrettable kind of “advocacy” is only encountered in a very specific and localized field. Most teachers of history and mathematics have never had to consider the idea of using research to justify their existence, and many music teachers in the vast majority of nations outside the United States have never heard of “music advocacy” and would probably have difficulty comprehending what it actually means in practice.

Rather than placing so much effort on advocating outdated traditional school music programs on the basis of unconvincing claims, surely efforts are better spent on transforming music programs into centers of relevant, lifelong musical activity valued by the local community.This is where researchers and music organizations should be focusing their attention.

Slatkin understands that music education is much too important to be justified on the basis of its potential to instill patriotism, to enhance test scores in mathematics or reading, or to improve the brain development of students. Slatkin also seems to recognize that some forms of music advocacy are misguided, useless and even destructive. While music research sometimes only serves to increase the division between theory and practice, it is best conducted with an awareness of the “bigger picture,” informed by the broader insights of social critics and historians, as well as expert artists and practitioners. In this way research may lead to insights that empower positive transformations, so music education is valued naturally without the need for aggressive advocacy campaigns.


Music Learning via Electronic Gaming

British organization Youth Music has released an interesting report by Andrew Missingham entitled Why Console Games are Bigger than Rock and Roll. The report examined the following questions:

  • Are young people being attracted to making music via these games?
  • Do music-games add value to or replace other ways that young people make and listening to music?
  • Are young people making music, or learning about music, on consoles instead of on “traditional” instruments?
  • Are people starting on games consoles, then going on to other more "traditional” music making methods?
  • What can games developers and console and peripheral manufacturers do improve music-games?

A copy of the full report may be downloaded here:

Download Why console games are bigger than Rock and Roll
(709KB PDF)

Here is a link to a related article in the UK’s Telegraph entitled Computer Games Inspire Children to Learn Musical Instruments:


In 1995 I conducted a study on karaoke and Japanese youth culture with sociolinguist Shigeru Taneda, the initial results of which were published in the Yamanashi Gakuin Journal of General Education. More than 12 years ago, Professor Taneda and I expressed our astonishment regarding the creative ways that Japanese youth were using many of the technologies that have only recently been popularized in North America, the UK and elsewhere. These include what was called in 1995 the Karaoke Battle Station, a device that assigned scores to competing singers, as well as games that required dancing, performance on taiko drums, and various rock instruments. Some of these music technologies have still not been marketed for personal ownership outside of Japan, and new devices have continued to be developed.

This is among the various topics that I will examine further during the summer of 2009 at Nichibunken, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, in Kyoto.


International Lectures

In 2009, I will be giving lectures and workshops on music at universities and conservatories in 10 nations. These will be for music institutions in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the United States, Japan, Mexico, and France.

Click HERE for a tentative schedule.

Click HERE to view my current homepage at Sibelius Academy.


Nordic Research in Music Technology

In 2009, the Nordic Network for the Integration of Music Informatics, Performance and Aesthetics will hold a week-long masters-level course in Esbjerg, Denmark:


I am giving a lecture and interactive workshop there on new music technologies in Japan and the USA.

Recently, I am also designing a proposal for a multi-national research project on the use of new music technologies in targeted urban centers of Europe, Asia, and North America.


Kampin Laulu and Panula

Last night I sang for a recording session with the Kampin Laulu Chamber Choir at Jorma Panula’s house. We recorded Panula’s recent choral works for small men’s chorus. Panula is one of Europe’s most respected conducting pedagogues, and his former students serve as conductors for several of the world’s leading symphony orchestras and choirs. Panula’s new works feature attractive harmonies and textures – a challenge to sight read, but well worth the effort. I have been singing as a member of Kampin Laulu for about 2 months, and we have concerts coming up in a few weeks.

Related websites:




At its next concert, Kampin Laulu will perform some very attractive and interesting new choral pieces by Finnish composer Tapani Lansio: http://www.fimic.fi/fimic/fimic.nsf/mainframe?readform&lansio+tapani

More information on Finnish music may be obtained from the Finnish Music Information Centre:


Globalisation and Identity in Music Education

In mid-November 2008, the Sibelius Academy Music Education Department will be hosting the conference Globalisation and Identity in Music Education.

Click HERE for the programme of this event.

Professor Lucy Green (University of London) will be one of the keynote speakers.

HERE for a programme of the related event for school music teachers, Classroom Rock Band as a Learning Environment.

This conference is offered with the generous support of Nordplus through the Pan-Nordic coalition of advanced music institutions Musikkpedagogisk Nettverk: Nordic Network for Music Education.

HERE for a link to the 2009 Nordic Network conference now being planned in Sweden.

Finland’s former President Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Today the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari.

Click here for further information:

In addition to his work as a leading peace negotiator, Ahtisaari is the major patron of international music projects through the MIAGI (Music Is A Great Investment) program.

Click here for further information:


International Presentations in October

In a few weeks I will present a lecture in Sweden entitled “Musical Creativity and Identity among Three Māori Women Songwriters” for the seminar on Song and Music in Minority Regions, as part of the Liet Lavlut festival [http://www.liet.nl/home.php?l=7]. According to Birger Winsa, “Liet Lavlut is the biggest cultural festival for minority languages in Europe, lasting four days, from Thursday - Sunday October 16-20, 2008.On Saturday is the festival’s academic seminar Song and Music in Minority Regions (09.00 - ca 16.00).

Here is a PDF file of the program for the seminar: http://www.liet.nl/admin/upload/pdf/musikseminarium-pitea-080903_34.pdf.

The seminar is arranged by the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research and other partners, including the Music School of Piteå, SWEBLUL and Joensuu University.

At the end of October, I will also give two presentations in the United States for the Society for Ethnomusicology 53nd Annual Conference at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut (October 25-28, 2008) [http://www.indiana.edu/~semhome/2008/index.shtml].

The first is a general session paper presentation entitled “Intercultural Music Transmission in the History of New Zealand Brass Bands.”

The second presentation is a brief lecture for the Historical Ethnomusicology Special Interest Group session entitled “Reconciling Emic/Etic Paradox in Glocal Music Historiography.” This presentation will highlight the implications of some findings I discussed earlier at the De-Canonizing Music History conference.


Bringing Integrity to Music Education Leadership

Music education has increasingly faced challenges associated with corporatization and commercialization, both within our educational institutions and professional organizations. As one reflects on various high-profile controversies that have impacted our field in recent years, it seems increasingly clear that more must be done to ensure integrity is maintained in leadership within the field of music education.

Such problems can be minimized if music teachers and students will embrace their responsibility to be vigilant critical thinkers and insist on attaining space for open democratic forums in which difficult questions may be raised to those in positions of leadership. Certain key questions come to mind that require careful consideration whenever we are faced with a new music education initiative:

1) Does this initiative provide maximum benefit to students in terms of quality musical experiences?

2) If money is involved, exactly how will the money be used and how can this be verified?

3) Are there additional conflicting agendas associated with this initiative, besides musical benefit to students, that might be cause for concern? (e.g. opportunities for executives to attain the favor of politicians or CEOs of major corporations, to profit from stock options, to promote themselves, or to sell additional products, etc.)

In recent years, professional organizations and educational institutions have increasingly focused their attention on marketing and profits, while important decisions are made behind closed doors without opportunities for open discussion. Leadership with integrity is difficult, and it is usually impossible for a leader to please all members of an organization. But while democratic processes may be imperfect and inefficient, they are essential in order to ensure that egalitarian empowerment is maximized while corruption is minimized.

I have been quite impressed so far with the forms of democracy I am experiencing in Finland. It is refreshing to see egalitarian opportunities for candid and transparent discussion regarding new initiatives in educational contexts, and there is clearly a focus on the noble objective of maximum benefit to students. Perhaps this is why Finland has consistently received some of the world’s highest (positive) ratings on international perceptions of corruption: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_Finland


Sony Responds to Nokia

A major shift in the global music industry is now taking place.

Just weeks after Finland’s Nokia announced that it will offer unlimited music downloads on its new mobile phones, Japan’s Sony has responded with the same offer:


History may show that these decisions will have important implications for music consumption throughout the world.



Two New Projects

Two new music projects are online now:

Boston Hybrid Musics website displays findings from a graduate seminar research project in 2008. A few more media files still need to be added, but the main content is all currently available.

Also, I have been developing the new website for the International Society for Philosophy of Music Education (ISPME), which will have its next symposium at the Sibelius Academy in 2010.



Singing in Finland

Today I auditioned and accepted the honor of joining one of Finland’s leading choirs, Kampin Laulu.

Here is a link to their website:


Choral music is quite popular in Finland and other nations in the Nordic and Baltic region. I hope through this experience to learn more about the role of choirs in Finnish community life and in the construction of national musical culture, and of course, to enjoy making some great music as well.


Music News from Finland

Below are three rather important news stories:

(1) Nokia, Finland’s largest company (and the world’s largest mobile phone maker), has announced that it will offer free and unlimited music downloads as well as discounts on its latest mobile phones. This unprecedented development is likely to have a significant impact on the global music industry.



(2) The new Helsinki Music Centre has now received a commitment of additional support from philanthropic foundations (millions of Euros) and construction is proceeding as scheduled at a prominent site across the street from Finland’s House of Parliament. Starting in 2011, the Sibelius Academy will be housed in the new centre, and the space will also be used for concerts of both the Finnish Radio Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.


(3) The Sibelius Academy has entered into a unique partnership with El Sistema, Venezuela’s renowned music education system.


These are exciting times in Finland, a nation that is notable for both music and education. Here is a link to my new homepage at the Sibelius Academy Music Education Department:



Research in New Zealand Performing Arts, Vol. 2



The School of Literacies and Arts in Education at the

University of Canterbury

in association with Drama NZ

is pleased to announce the e-launch of the

NZ Journal of Research in Performing Arts and Education

The launch will take place on the web via live links with several universities in NZ and other institutions across the world on

Tuesday 19 August

3.30pm to assemble

Official launch time 4 pm (NZ time)

This is one of the only peer-reviewed scholarly journals in New Zealand that publishes music research. Although the journal examines performing arts generally, nearly half of its articles have been music-related. I serve on its editorial board.

The newest issue contains four music-related articles. Follow this link for a more detailed announcement: http://www.dramatool.org/en/news/item/330/

Here is a link to the new issue:

Here is a link to the previous issue:


Books Galore

Pictured here is a photograph I took recently of one section of the Sibelius Monument, about a 10-minute walk from my new apartment in Helsinki. In between writing and making music at home, I have been taking many long walks around the Helsinki area. It is important to make a point of getting out, because suddenly I find I am writing for lots of books, which requires sitting for long periods of time. Most of my colleagues are also busy doing the same nowadays.

I would like to take a break to record a new album of original songs soon, so hopefully I can get caught up on all the writing within about a month. Probably I will not be posting any new material on this site for a while because I need to focus on finishing various book projects:

  • My book Wind Bands and Cultural Identity in Japanese Schools will - hopefully - go to print by the end of the year (forthcoming, Springer press).

  • I am currently co-authoring a book chapter with Patricia Shehan Campbell entitled “World Beat” for Volume III of Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (third edition), which will be published after the new Volumes I and II are released.

  • I am also currently writing a chapter with the working title “Musicianship, Musical Identity and Meaning as Embodied Practice” for a very interesting book entitled Music Education for Changing Times: Guiding Visions for Practice (forthcoming, Springer Press). The contributing editors of this book are J. Terry Gates and Tom Regelski, and the other chapter authors are Wayne Bowman, Roger Johnson, Marie McCarthy, Elizabeth Gould, Scott Goble, Julia Koza, Daniel Cavicchi, John Shepherd, Anthony Palmer, Richard Colwell, Graham Welch, David Elliott, and Sandra Stauffer.

  • I continue to work on two music book proposals that have strong interest from publishers but have not yet managed to see contracts: one co-edited with Alexandra Kertz-Welzel (Germany), and the other with Susan Battye (New Zealand).

  • A few weeks ago I submitted my chapter entitled “Rethinking the Historiography of Hybrid Genres in Music Education” to Lauri Vakeva and Vesa Kurkela for their book De-Canonizing Music History (which is going to Cambridge Scholars Publishing). My chapter discusses the neglect of hybrid music genres within book-length national histories of music education in Japan, the United States, and New Zealand.

  • About a month ago I submitted my chapter on “Jazz and Rock Music” for Volume II of William Anderson and Patricia Shehan Campbell’s book Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (third edition), which will be published soon on Rowman-Littlefield Publishers.

  • Earlier this year I also published chapters on Maori brass bands in Alta Musica and on Japanese bands in Music of Japan Today.

  • I am also beginning to write a novel on the theme of corruption in higher education, which is loosely based on personal experience. [Update: Having just read the tragic and allegedly nonfictional Post Millenium Writings of Henry Kingsbury online, I feel the need to mention that my own work in this area takes an entirely different approach and is intended to be consumed as authentic literary fiction: Challenging yet humorous and hopeful in tone, my stories emphasize creative solutions and survival within complex settings.]

  • It has been quite a busy time, but certainly interesting and probably worth the effort. To obtain the complete bibliographic details for any of these publications, please visit the following website with a link to publications and a CV:



Further Research in Japan

During the summer of 2009, I will be using my vacation time from Sibelius Academy to conduct research in Japan as a Visiting Research Scholar in affiliation with Professor Shuhei Hosokawa at Nichibunken: the International Research Center for Japanese Studies.

I am excited about this important opportunity, since Nichibunken is one of Japan’s prestigious National Institutes for the Humanities and Professor Hosokawa is a highly respected Japanese musicologist who shares my interests in sociomusicology, popular music, wind bands, and music technology.

I anticipate that Nichibunken will be an unusually stimulating environment and look forward to returning to Finland with new findings regarding both historical and current musical practices in Japan. I hope to also help forge some new relationships for Sibelius Academy with both educational institutions and music industry in Japan.

The following link provides further information regarding Japan's National Institutes for the Humanities:


Click HERE to view my current homepage at Sibelius Academy.


Finland’s Fantastic Schools

The educational system of Finland surely has many strengths, but it is difficult to know what to make of some of the astonishing reports about Finnish schools that have been appearing in the international mass media in recent months.

Some reports seem to be based upon a questionable combination of second hand information with test scores and outdated financial figures, and some others merely regurgitate what has already been said in previous news articles. Still, it seems clear that something remarkable is happening in Finnish education. The typical Finn's language skills and knowledge of science, humanities and the arts is very impressive. There is a great emphasis on creativity here, and there seem to be relatively few social problems due to egalitarian public systems, although rates of alcoholism and suicide may be slightly higher than other nations. Rigorous, comparative research is needed so convincing findings can be attained regarding the successes of this national system. The following articles provide some background on this topic:




One author in the United States has suggested that much can be learned from Finnish schools, including how problems in American schools might best be solved:

Here is an interesting blog post by Finnish researcher Teemu Leinonen on the topic of comparisons between schools in the United States and Finland:

I intend to conduct some thorough research into this question while living in Helsinki, and will certainly share my findings in future publications.

Below are some links to various articles on music education in Finland:

Finnish Music Education

Overview of Music Education in Finland

Positive Effects of Music Education in Finland

Other Related Links

Future of Jazz Education?

In April 2008, the International Association for Jazz Education declared bankruptcy and was suddenly disbanded after having served the jazz education community for nearly 40 years. Meanwhile, MENC: The National Association for Music Education announced that it may no longer be having national conferences in the United States.

Related links:

As a Seattle native and former school music teacher, such developments were particularly surprising. Many do not realize this, but Seattle is increasingly regarded nowadays as an important center for innovations in jazz education and popular music pedagogy. In each of the recent Essentially Ellington festivals, Seattle high school bands have attained the highest honors. Garfield High School has produced many important jazz and rock musicians, including Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Ernestine Anderson, as well as rock drummer Dan Peters (from Screaming Trees, Nirvana and Mudhoney). Nearby, Roosevelt High School has also produced many notable musicians, including Mike McCready (rock guitarist with Pearl Jam), Duff McKagan (rock bassist with Guns N’ Roses and Iggy Pop) and various others. Another important contributor to the local jazz scene has been Washington Middle School, which for many years has had one of the finest middle school level jazz programs in the world.




Community organizations, such as Earshot Jazz and Experience Music Project, have also contributed to local school music programs through various partnerships.

In the middle school music program that I taught in Seattle several years back, the students benefited greatly from a residency of Jovino Santos Neto, funded by Earshot Jazz. I was also able to attain grant funding from the Simpson Center for the Humanities to bring local artists from many different traditions into the school music program: an Irish fiddler, blues songwriter, Thai and Ghanaian musicians, and various others.

Hopefully the International Association for Jazz Education will be replaced by another organization soon, and I have a feeling that the solution might come from Seattle. Meanwhile jazz education and popular music pedagogy are fully in a groove with many exciting new developments in Europe and Australasia.


European Culture and Japan

Here is a photograph I took last night in Paris of the statues at Trocadero, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. There were also many Japanese tourists taking photos at this same location. I am on my way to present research on Japanese wind bands at the IGEB conference in Luxembourg. Using a phenomenological approach, I will discuss various perspectives on conducting the works of Japanese wind composers, as well as the Saito Method of conducting. Below is the abstract of my paper:

Conducting Japanese Wind Music: Analytical and Phenomenological Insights

Increasingly, myriad statistics lend support to the claim that Japan has become an important center for Western art music in recent years, an ironic assertion considering its obvious geographic and cultural distance from Europe. The field of wind music is particularly illustrative regarding this point, since Japan is among the world’s largest markets for wind band sheet music and sound recordings, and is home to the largest wind instrument manufacturer, the largest band competition, and even professional wind bands that resemble major symphony orchestras in terms of subscription ticket sales, world premiere performances and recorded releases. Many notable wind compositions for professional-level and amateur ensembles have been produced by Japanese composers, most of which have yet to attain attention outside Japan. Using analytical and phenomenological perspectives, this study describes the experience of conducting two Japanese works for amateur wind bands: Tetsunosuke Kushida’s Asuka and Hiroshi Hoshina’s Fu-Mon. The author has interviewed both composers in Japan, and recently conducted these pieces in 2008 with the All-State Honor Band at the annual festival of Connecticut Independent Schools. This study grapples with the notion of wind conductor as “agent” in the cultural mediation of hybrid genres, and includes discussion of implications for how wind music from other non-western nations might be approached in a manner that arguably ensures “authenticity” and cultural sensitivity.


The First Band in Japan?

Some important new discoveries were made during this past week regarding John William Fenton (b.1828), who formed what appears to have been Japan's very first band comprised of western musical instruments. Fenton arrived in Yokohama in 1868, just at the start of the Meiji era, where he founded bands and orchestras and even composed the first version of Kimigayo, Japan's national anthem. Over the next 140 years, Japan would enthusiastically embrace western music, eventually becoming a globally significant producer and consumer of European and American genres, ranging from classical to jazz, rock, and more. Until this week, however, the final chapter of Fenton's life had remained completely unknown to music scholars both within and outside of Japan. It was thought that after living in Japan, Fenton had settled somewhere in the rural midwestern United States, where he disappeared.

Suddenly, after more than a century of mystery, there are some new details. On June 16, I was contacted at my Boston University office by a thoughtful genealogical researcher in California who had on that very day obtained records of Fenton’s final years in . . . of all possible places . . . beautiful Santa Cruz, California. It was very kind of her to provide this information, and I was able to help communicate these details to Toshio Akiyama so he could announce them at the Japan Bandmaster’s Association meeting in Kyoto this past Saturday. These findings will be one other new detail included in my book on wind band music in Japan that is scheduled for publication later this year.


Multiculturalism in Music and Education

[click on image for details]

To what extent do musical experiences open windows to intercultural understanding?

For the past few decades the effects of multiculturalism have been seen in the field of music education within North America, Europe and elsewhere. While many contributions in this area have been effective and inspiring for a new generation of music students, others have reinforced stereotypes and given “multiculturalism” a poor image. Although the ideals of multiculturalism may now seem to be rather widely shared, there is actually little agreement regarding finite connotations of the term and the motivations of those who would advocate it as a component of educational philosophy. “Multiculturalism” is no longer the popular concept in educational discourse that it had been in the 1980s and 90s, and in many nations there is less interest in recognizing the cultures of minority peoples than in attaining a unified and patriotic national identity. Why is this so? Is multiculturalism no longer relevant? How have the meanings of "multiculturalism" changed in the domains of music and education? More research and scholarship are sorely needed in this field.

Recommended Links to Related Websites:

Center for Multicultural Education (University of Washington)

Globalization and Education (University of Illinois)

Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME)

International Society for Music Education

Current Activities in this Area:

* I authored the chapter on “Jazz and Rock” and co-authored the chapter on “World Beat” for the third edition of Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (Rowman-Littlefield/MENC).

[2012-UPDATE: See

Finnish Journal of Music Education, Vol.13, No.1

Also, here is a webpage with individual links to several of my publications on this topic:



Colloquium on Music Education Curriculum Reform

The MayDay Group Colloquium XX will be held at Boston University, June 5-8, 2008. Action for Change in Music Education is the motto of the MayDay Group. The theme for this meeting is "Connecting school music to the community, society, and life: Curriculum, policies, and practices." Several interesting speakers are scheduled to give presentations at this colloquium. I am assisting Dr Patrick Jones in his convening of this event.

Please examine the links below for details:

Colloquium Schedule


Colloquium Brochure


Action Ideals of the MayDay Group



Prejudice Against Popular Music

[Updated 03/31/09 for improved international video access:]

Why are so many academics and classical musicians prejudiced against popular music?

Ask, and you may discover that many cannot identify a single popular music performer from recent years that they would consider to have artistic merit.

Does wholesale dismissal of contemporary popular music as trivial and worthless represent an informed or a naïve position? Many academics in the field of music (and performers in classical and jazz styles) have never tried songwriting nor performing in popular music genres on appropriate instruments, so their opinions are actually based on assumptions rather than experience or research.

Those who understand popular music genres realize that it takes genuine artistry to establish such tight and intense grooves as can be found in some recently popular songs, such as Radiohead’s “Jigsaw,” Lenny Kravitz’s “Rock and Roll is Dead,” Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” or Incubus’ “Dig.”

[NOTE: This website is best viewed with the Mozilla Firefox browser - downloadable for free - rather than Internet Explorer or Netscape.]

Radiohead: Jigsaw

Lenny Kravitz: Rock and Roll is Dead

Stevie Wonder: Superstition

Incubus: Dig

It also takes creative artistry to produce the compelling melodies, insightful lyrics, and unique song forms encountered in much of the music of Keane, Coldplay, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and others.

Keane: This is the Last Time

Here is a website for more of Keane:


Coldplay: See You Soon

Coldplay: Trouble

Coldplay: Shiver

Sting – a rock musician – singing a great jazz standard

Sarah McLachlan: Possession

Norah Jones: Don't Know Why

Suzanne Vega: Caramel

Finally, Nordic musician Bjork seems to be among the most creative and daring artists in popular music today.

Bjork: Human Behaviour (live on BBC)

More Bjork:

Bjork on musical snobbery:

While much of popular music is mass produced with maximum profits as the aim, some performers successfully manage to combine both artistry and popularity, even today.

Here is a link for resources in popular music studies:


Here is a link to a young organization that specializes in scholarly analysis of popular music: http://www.unc.edu/music/pop-analysis/conferences.html

I have recently completed the chapter on “Jazz and Rock Music” for the third edition of Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (Rowman Littlefield/MENC).


Conducting Japanese Wind Music

In July I will be presenting a research paper for the 2008 conference of IGEB: International Society for the Promotion and Research of Wind Music in Luxembourg.

The conference theme is “Wind Music: Regional Traditions – Global Perspectives”, and my paper is entitled Conducting Japanese Wind Music: Analytical and Phenomenological Insights.

It looks like this will be a very interesting conference. Here is a link to its website:


On a related note, I am currently consulting with Katsuhiro Nakanowatari on a translation of the second of my three articles for the Japanese Band Directors Association Journal. This journal is the primary research publication of the Japan Band Directors Association, and has a circulation of over 4,000 copies [www.jba-honbu.or.jp/]. I have also been invited to give a special lecture for the upcoming annual meeting of this organization, in Tokyo, June 21-22, 2008. [UPDATE: This lecture in Japan has now been postponed until next year]

My historical study discusses interactions between Maori brass bands and Japanese musicians in 1920s, and will be published in two issues of the journal in 2008 and 2009. A previous article I wrote for this journal (in 2007) was entitled “Kokusaiteki Shitendemiru Nihonno Suisogaku,” (Japanese Wind Bands in International Perspective). Mr. Nakanowatari and his colleagues have done a wonderful job with this journal, which is making some important new contributions to knowledge in the field of wind music.


Appearance vs. Reality

Appearance versus reality is an important theme in human life and discourse that is traceable to the ancients, including Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and even the stories of Noah, Job, and Elijah from among the ancient Hebrews. This theme is also relevant to so many of our assumptions regarding both music and education.

So often what we assume about our music students and teachers - or even about music itself - turns out to be wrong. It takes creativity, empathy, a familiarity with the dark side of human nature (deceit, delusion, etc.), a sense of humor, and a determination to be systematic and thorough, in order to stand some chance at finding the elusive “truths” in our field. This is perhaps the best justification for research.

Here are some hilarious video clips that illustrate this theme (don't worry - this was broadcast on American television and is not terribly risque):

[NOTE: This website is best viewed with the Mozilla Firefox browser - downloadable for free - rather than Internet Explorer or Netscape.]