Ethnicity and Music Education

The role of ethnicity in music teaching and learning is a topic of increasing interest among music educators in the 21st century. Recently I have been developing 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 late 2009. Contributing authors to the book include Ruth Wright, Christopher Small, Lucy Green, Pamela Burnard, John Finney and others. I believe this will be the first multi-author book to provide an international overview of this topic by primarily European authors.

Here is a link to an article that describes a music education project among Native Americans: http://archives.dailyuw.com/2001/013001/N1.yakimafeat.html

Here is a link to a project involving Thai and Maori music educators:

Hildegard Froehlich has also written a concise and unusually insightful book that provides an American perspective on the sociology of music education:


Here is a link to a useful resource for sociology of music education compiled by Marie McCarthy:


There have also been five international symposia on the Sociology of Music Education, from which conference proceedings were produced:


Ethnicity is a particularly complex topic in music education that must be considered in terms of the identities of teachers, students, and even the music itself. The following organizations tend to offer relevant research studies:

Society for Ethnomusicology


Cultural Diversity in Music Education


Asia-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research



UPDATE (summer, 2010):

Here are some of my recent publications related to this topic:

  • Hebert, D. G. (in press, 2010). Ethnicity and music education: Sociological dimensions. In R. Wright (Ed.), Sociology and Music Education. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.

  • Hebert, D. G. (2009). Rethinking the historiography of hybrid genres in music education. In V. Kurkela & L. Vakeva (Eds.), De-Canonizing Music History. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 163-184.

  • Editor (with Sidsel Karlsen), special issue on multiculturalism:

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


Congratulations to Dr. Carol Shansky

Carol Shansky has very recently completed her doctorate degree in music education with a dissertation entitled A History of Two New Jersey Community Bands: The Franklin and Waldwick Bands. This thorough and insightful study examines two of the oldest surviving instrumental music ensembles in the American state of New Jersey, with attention to how these bands transformed over time, the broader cultural forces that contributed to their sustainability across generations, and their social role as vehicles of informal community music education. Dr. Shansky is an accomplished professional flutist and experienced lecturer of college courses. It was a great pleasure to serve on her doctoral advisory committee along with her supervisory professor Patrick Jones of Boston University.

Congratulations, Dr. Shansky!

Here is the abstract of Dr. Shansky's dissertation study:

This research established the history of two currently operating New Jersey community bands and illustrated their roles in music education. The bands studied were the Franklin Band founded 1874 and the Waldwick Band founded 1894. The histories of these two longstanding bands contribute to the history of community bands in general and the State of New Jersey in particular. The Franklin Band is one of the oldest bands in New Jersey and has maintained a steady presence in its geographic area, with the exception two brief hiatuses the beginning of the twentieth century and World War II. In addition, ensembles that were related to the band such as a Hungarian Band and the Franklin Miners Band provided the functions of a town band elsewhere in the community. The Waldwick Bands history was less consistent than that of Franklin having been founded as a town band in 1894, it appears to have dissolved in the 1920s. The town of Waldwick experienced a resurgence of a town band in the form of an Italian Band in 1937, followed by a reformation as a fire department band in 1954 and finally as a community band in 1966. Research and reporting of this study utilized historical methods. Archives, books, newspapers, and other publications and photographs were examined. In addition, longserving and former members of both bands were interviewed to support the historical record. Background information on community bands in general was gathered by document review as well. Participation in a community band is an important resource of music education for adults and schoolaged musicians. This research study describes the successful participation of schoolage participants in two particular community bands and the implications that community band membership has for the music education of all involved in these ensembles. The long histories of these two bands illustrates that community bands have long served, and continue to serve, a valuable function in participants lives, and in the lives of the communities in which they exist. In addition, these histories reveal the roles of two particular community bands in the life and culture of their local area.

Here is a link to Dr. Shansky's website: