Wind Bands and Cultural Identity in Japanese Schools

Here is a link to a product flyer for my book on instrumental music education in Japan:



Christmas Music in Bergen

This year – 2011 – was my first Christmas in Bergen, Norway, which I have found to be remarkably active with music performances surrounding the holiday period. I enjoyed the opportunity to perform with several music ensembles.

During this Christmastime, I performed jazz trumpet at Fana Kulturhus with jazz composer and vocalist Oded Ben-Horin as well as some of Oded’s fine jazz students along with a band organized by pianist saxophonist/flutist Pia-Camilla Tømmernes, electric bassist Peter Harald Sæverud, and others.

I also performed a few times as a vocalist (low bass) along with three inspiring women in a very nice a cappella quartet: Silje Valde Onsrud (soprano), Anne Kristine Wallace Turøy (alto), and Tine Grieg Viig (contralto). We sang several Christmas carols, including a published arrangement by Catharina Chistophersen. Anne Kristine and Tine and I also played carols in a small brass group.

Additionally, I sang and played trumpet with the Bergen Anglican choir, led by Roger Martin, which included a performance in the old Korskirken cathedral (a major Bergen landmark that had already been established by 1185!).

I enjoyed rehearsing with a fine jazz choir called Stemmebruket, but due to some unexpected problems with airplanes (during my return from serving on a doctoral tribunal in Spain), it was not possible to perform with them this time – I look forward to other concerts soon in 2012!

I also attended an enjoyable performance of Christmas music by the “Jambonans Musik Corps” brass band, an intergenerational community ensemble with a fine tradition.

Community music activities are certainly lively during the holidays in Bergen – a joy to observe and experience.


Music Conferences in November 2011

November is such a busy month for music-related conferences! Here are links to information regarding my participation in conferences either recently attended or that I plan to attend soon:

-- Commentator, Panelist and Session Chair, Nordic Network for Music Education seminar: “Challenges and possibilities of plurality and change in music education,” Ørebro University, [Sweden] (November 7-11, 2011).

-- Chair, Historical SIG meeting, Annual conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), Philadelphia [USA] (Nov. 17-20, 2011).

-- Senior Researcher presentation, "Patriotic Sound and Sentiment: Defining Nations through Music Performance in Schools" for Grieg Research School international seminar: Performing Sound and Sentiment, Self and Society, Bergen [Norway] (Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2011). Link to presentation abstracts: http://www.uib.no/filearchive/book-of-abstracts-performing-sound-and-sentiment-self-and-society_1.pdf


Musical Fingerprints

Here is a link to a video of a very interesting lecture by Professor David Hargreaves entitled “Musical Fingerprints”:


Here is how the Warwick Knowledge Centre describes this lecture: “Do you have a song that can lift your mood? Or a song that reminds you of a certain event? Music has always been known for its power to alter our emotions and impact our memories, but why is this? Professor David Hargreaves, psychologist and keen musician, explains in his TEDxWarwick talk that developments in music psychology have begun to unlock the reasons and patterns behind our particular music tastes.”

. . .

Music psychology is moving towards the idea of ‘musical fingerprints’. There are three kinds of associations:

1. Musical networks – we perceive the world of music in different ways according to our particular interests and preferred genres.

2. Cultural networks – the way we react to music will depend on the situation we are in. The ‘musical fit’ concept shows that certain music fits certain situations. Music played during an aerobics class will be very different from that played in an antique furniture store. Rather than Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, the store owner will play Vivaldi or Bach.

3. Personal musical network – we all have a personal inner music library (PIML) which develops throughout our lifetime. We recognise new pieces of music according to our PIMLs.


Creativity in Education

Hooray for John Drummond! Here is some great Kiwi wisdom regarding the central role creativity should play in educational practices. Professor Drummond's 15-minute lecture briefly yet very effectively demonstrates some important educational problems and solutions relevant to teachers of all subjects:


Wind Bands and Cultural Identity in Japanese Schools

I very recently heard from the publisher that my book on music in Japan is now printed and being sent to book retailers and distributors.

Here is more information regarding this book:

“This well researched volume tells the story of music education in Japan and of the wind band contest organized by the All-Japan Band Association. Identified here for the first time as the world’s largest musical competition, it attracts 14,000 bands and well over 500,000 competitors. The book’s insightful contribution to our understanding of both music and education chronicles music learning in Japanese schools and communities. It examines the contest from a range of perspectives, including those of policy makers, adjudicators, conductors and young musicians. The book is an illuminating window on the world of Japanese wind bands, a unique hybrid tradition that comingles contemporary western idioms with traditional Japanese influences. In addition to its social history of Japanese school music programs, it shows how participation in Japanese school bands contributes to students’ sense of identity, and sheds new light on the process of learning to play European orchestral instruments.”

Here are links with information on how to obtain a copy:





Research and Issues in Music Education has recently released its 2011 issue (volume 9), edited by Prof. Bruce Gleason at University of St. Thomas (USA). RIME is an open-access refereed journal, and this issue contains a diverse selection of original research studies with the following titles:

The Effects of Orchestration on Musicians’ and Nonmusicians’ Perception of Musical Tension

Identity Negotiation: An Intergenerational Examination of Lesbian and Gay Band Directors

Achievement Motivation and the Adolescent Musician: A Synthesis of the Literature

Backgrounds, Teaching Responsibilities, and Motivations of Music Education Candidates Enrolled in Alternative Certification Music Education Programs

The Identification of Conductor-Distinguished Functions of Conducting

Here is a link to the main page of RIME 9:



International Week in Bergen

International Week is very soon in Bergen, Norway (October 21-31).
It features music and films from many parts of the world, including several free events to celebrate multicultural Bergen, especially for international students and families. Here is how the event is described by its organizers:

Welcome to International Week
Focusing on the work of the United Nations in general, and especially the UN Millennium Development Goals, International Week is being arranged for the 8th time in Bergen. We invite you to participate in the many activities during the week: Debates, seminars, lectures, concerts, films and exhibitions.

Here are some highlights from the program:

-Official opening - Concert at Musikkpaviljongen on Friday, October 21st 16.00.

-Bergen International Culture Center (BIKS) presents Bergen International Music Festival. The music presented at the festival shows how Norwegian culture is enriched by immigration. The concerts take place at BIKS/Fensal, Kvarteret and Verftet.

-International Student Day- Friday, October 28th
Bergen is an international student town. The students are involved in international affairs both in their studies and through work in different student organisations. International Student Day is a meeting-place for foreign and Norwegian students. Welcome to International Student Day!

-A celebration of International Week at Torgallmenningen Saturday 29th of October. Come and meet different organizations in Bergen.

Links to more information:






2011 British Ethnomusicology Conference

Here is a link to a very recent article on the 2011 British Forum for Ethnomusicology conference that I co-authored with Jonathan McCollum of Washington College, USA:


Jonathan wrote most of the above article, which describes our experience of participating in the conference as representatives of the Historical Ethnomusicology special interest group of the Society for Ethnomusicology.


Musicianship, Musical Interpretation & Cultural Identity

A Lecture for “Topics in the Aesthetics of Music and Sound” Series. Philosophy Department, University of Southern Denmark. Series information: http://soundmusicresearch.org

Musicianship, Musical Interpretation, and Cultural Identity: Challenges for Philosophy and the Social Sciences

David G. Hebert, PhD, Professor of Music, Grieg Academy
Faculty of Education, Bergen University College


The notion of musicianship – or artistry in the field of music – is a phenomenon that raises an array of philosophical questions intricately tied to problems of interpretation, particularly when music is considered cross-culturally as a profoundly meaningful global practice. In this talk, I will explore the implications of how cultural differences affect our understandings of various forms of music, as well as how relationships between musical practices and cultural identities are rapidly transforming as a consequence of both globalization and the popularization of new media technologies. I will also explore the implications of recent empirical research in relation to these themes and attempt to distill a reasonable projection of possible paths that musicianship and music research may take in the future.


2:15-4 p.m. ROOM U73



Link for poster:



Cole Porter Tunes in Bergen

Jazz songs by Cole Porter are popular in Norway, like many other parts of the world. I am performing with a small jazz group today (at 2pm) – singing and playing trumpet – at the Fana Kulturhus in Bergen, Norway, with pianist Øystein Kvinge’s band. The program will feature several famous tunes by American songwriter Cole Porter (1891-1964).






Performing Sound and Sentiment, Self and Society

The Grieg Research School has announced its next seminar.

Subject/Focus: Interdisciplinary Music Studies – The study of musical performance

Title: Performing sound and sentiment, self and society

Place: University of Bergen

Dates: November 28 –December 2, 2011

Click HERE to access the program website.

Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies is a network–based research school set up by Musicnet West institutions in Western Norway and co-ordinated by the University of Bergen.

The seminar is designed for 15-20 candidates, of which 10 will be candidates with a paper.

The research seminar invites candidates to present PhD work-in-progress from the fields of music education, music therapy, musicology, and music performance. The course is also open for candidates attending The National Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowships Programme. Additionally, the course is open for higher music education staff on research qualification programmes. Senior researchers and supervisors are particularly welcome and may present papers if there is space in the program.


Research on Rhythmic Music and Education in the Nordic Region

On Thursday, September 29 will be a symposium in Bergen, Norway on popular music and education (often called "Rhythmic Music" in Nordic schools). Special guests will be in attendance who do innovative research related to this topic. The symposium is hosted by the Centre for Arts, Culture and Communication (Bergen University College - linked below), and coordinated by Dr. Catharina Christophersen. Several experts from outside Northern Europe have suggested that Nordic schools and higher education institutions may currently be the most advanced in the specialized field of popular music education, with especially effective pedagogical approaches, so it will be interesting to see what insights emerge from this symposium.

Please visit the links below for more information:




Understanding Talent

The concepts of talent, ability, and giftedness have long been of interest to teachers and society at large, particularly in such fields as the arts and athletics. Despite much interest in this topic, there is still a great need for additional research to develop new knowledge to inform the practices of teachers, coaches, and others responsible for nurturing the next generation of high achievers in various fields.

See the link below for a research project that seeks to uncover new insights into the nature of talent and effective practices for ensuring that talents are fully developed:



Music of Independence in South Sudan

Congratulations to the musicians of the newly independent nation South Sudan.






NNIMIPA in London

The Nordic Network for the Integration of Music Informatics, Performance and Aesthetics (NNIMIPA) is joining the inaugural conference of the Royal Musical Association’s Music and Philosophy Study Group at King’s College, London, and is offering an additional session on Sunday July 3, with the program linked below:


Music in Aarhus

Aarhus, Denmark is a beautiful place. I am out here for a few days to design an online assessment system and music entrepreneurship course for the Royal Academy of Music. Tonight I will have dinner by the beach and perform some jazz with musicians from the academy.



Research Cooperation in Nordic Countries

Nordforsk has recently released a report entitled “International Research Cooperation in the Nordic Countries” [click HERE to access]. It indicates that the global impact of Nordic researchers is already quite prominent and continues to increase. Another important finding is that “scientific articles with international co-authorship yield more citations than articles authored exclusively by researchers from one nation.” Unfortunately, the report does not address social sciences and humanities, but these too are academic domains in which Nordic research is rapidly gaining global visibility.


War on Whistleblowers Escalates: Implications for Educators

Public access to accurate information is prerequisite for a functional democracy, since accurate information enables a constructive debate of issues to be based on verifiable facts rather than mere assumptions and propaganda-tainted accounts. There may be valid arguments behind both conservative and liberal political views (and any variation thereof), but no perspective is valid if reliant on putative "facts" that turn out to be simply untrue. This is exactly why protection of whistleblowers is extremely important in any society that claims to be "free and democratic," for without whistleblowers many vitally important facts can never be uncovered and the decisions of voters are largely based on misinformation.

Unfortunately, truth is increasingly hard to find nowadays, and many employees associated with PR firms and "Psy Ops" units are charged with ensuring that sensitive information is not released to the public while a facade of legitimacy is maintained; in other words, such professionals are paid to to ensure distractions are in place so the whole truth is not exposed. Although news media have a public duty to thoroughly investigate and offer unbiased and accurate accounts of current events (thereby keeping voters informed), the mainstream news media in the USA is increasingly controlled by the agenda of corporate sponsors and compromised by the threat of legal action against whistleblowers, and is consequently passive, superficial, and complicit in the widespread dissemination of misinformation. This kind of misinformation ensures that the poor keep voting for politicians determined to maintain tax structures that make them only poorer, while soldiers continue to kill and die in wars that serve little purpose and offer no substantial benefits, all while sex scandals among politicians continue to attract more attention than the misuse and even disappearance of billions of tax dollars. [Note: Here is what 9 billion dollars looks like according to the standard format for indicating dollar amounts in the USA: $9,000,000,000.00 - It is surely among the largest sums of "misplaced" money in all of human history.]

Naturally, this kind of situation is frustrating for any thinking person who is genuinely concerned about the present and future state of the world, but it has traditionally still been possible for at least a small minority to stay fairly well informed by actively seeking out information that is less tainted by nationalistic and corporate bias. Propaganda on Fox News can be carefully compared with reports by expert researchers in the UK or Canada, for instance, to discern a more reliable account and understand how public perception of current events is manipulated. We may regret that so many allow themselves to be deceived (for they are well-intentioned but simply don’t know any better in most cases), but at least those with access to research by experts can be fairly confident in their understandings of what is actually going on.

However, recent developments raise some unprecedented concerns: if whistleblowing of any kind is to no longer be protected but instead aggressively prosecuted, if journalists even in other nations are hunted down as "technological terrorists" merely for daring to share truthful information about current events, the result of such a culture of fear will be that it is no longer possible for anyone – even professors and diplomats - to have substantial access to accurate information. What too few educators seem to fully understand is that the ongoing War on Whistleblowers in the USA is likely to have devastating effects on all who value truth, for it will surely impact both academic research and educational curriculum. If taken to its natural conclusion, the result will be that we are all kept ignorant - not just those who have neither time nor interest to devote the effort necessary to learn the truth about current events (and instead rely on Fox News and its ilk) – but absolutely everyone who is not directly working for military intelligence.

The current War on Whistleblowers is not something to be taken lightly, not a minor concern only relevant to the most radical of extremists or anarchists. Rather, the current crisis actually constitutes a very important moment in history, for all who value intellectual freedom and freedom of information, both of which are fundamental to the cause of education. Misinformation and unnecessary secrecy are a grave threat to democracy, for they prevent meaningful debate and informed decision-making among the citizenry. It is irrefutable that non-transparency is an enemy of democracy, yet the anti-transparency movement is very cleverly lobbied by powerful interest groups who claim that anyone who disagrees with their views is a threat to national security. Civil liberty is now on trial, and the effects of decisions regarding the legality of whistleblowing will be substantial and long-lasting for researchers and educators in the USA and its remaining allies.

Here is a link to James Risen’s recent affidavit, part of a monumental story that is receiving very little attention in American corporate news media:


Related links:









Music and Philosophy Study Group

The Music and Philosophy Study Group of the Royal Musical Association will hold its inaugural annual conference at King’s College London on 1-2 July 2011. I will be chairing a session with other specialists in music of East Asia.

Here is a link for more details on the conference:


We will also have a planning meeting of NNIMIPA on July 3 to negotiate some research collaboration with the Royal Musical Association:



Allen in Psychology of Music

Robert Allen, whose doctoral dissertation I supervised at Boston University (entitled FREE IMPROVISATION AND PERFORMANCE ANXIETY AMONG PIANO STUDENTS), has just had the study accepted for publication in the world's leading research journal for music psychology, Psychology of Music. We just got the news today, which is quite exciting. Hooray for Bob!


Online Music Education in Africa

A quite innovative international music conference is currently happening in Africa at the University of Ghana-Legon, with several outstanding speakers and participants from across Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, as well as a few Americans.

Below are links to the key documents for “Intercultural Approaches in Higher Music Education and Distance Learning,” in Accra, Ghana (April 10-13, 2011):



What began as merely a plan to post a CV online and occasional announcements of my activities and thoughts on music and current affairs seems to have matured by reaching a significant milestone today: 20,000 page views.

The following chart indicates the national origin of the most active readers of this blog:

United States....
United Kingdom....

About half the readers are from the USA, and half from other nations. Although they did not quite manage to make this list, there are many readers from Nordic nations, New Zealand, and China as well, and some very new readers from Africa and Latin America.

It may be worthwhile to spend some energy on reformatting and offer more frequent posts to this rather simple-looking blog, but for now I really must focus on finishing writing for a book that is under contract and has been delayed for too long. I will plan to write more for Sociomusicology in the summertime, when the other projects are complete.

Today I am in London, where I gave a lecture at University of London Institute of Education, and tonight I am off to the British Forum for Ethnomusicology conference to chair a symposium on historical research methods, and then to Africa (Accra, Ghana) from Saturday onward to give a presentation for a conference on online music learning and to evaluate an international music camp project. Then, finally back to Mississippi to do nothing but write a book for two solid months before moving to Norway to work with outstanding new colleagues there.


Song for Japanese Following the Tsunami

American music educator Sean Ichiro Manes - a friend of mine - recently made the following video of his school students singing a song in Japanese, dedicated to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami:


Dissertation on Integration of Words and Music

Today, Dr. Michael Simmons successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Boston University, a multi-faceted clinical study:


Here is the abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine how music aptitude, music training, and age affect the integration of words and music in memory, and how this process may, in turn, influence the recognition of familiar and novel songs among elementary school students. Two-hundred and twelve students ages 6 through 11 participated in the study. A song recognition test (Morrongiello & Roes, 1990a; Serafine, Crowder, & Repp, 1984) and two music aptitude tests - Primary Measures of Music Audiation and Intermediate Measure of Music Audiation (Gordon, 1986) - served as the principal data collection instruments.

To assess the main effects on the proportion of correct responses on the familiar and novel song recognition tests, a 4 X 3 X 2 Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was performed. The results showed age as the one independent variable to have a significant effect on familiar song recognition, F(3, 188) = 14.145, p = .000, while both music aptitude (composite) F(2, 186) = 4.173, p = .017 and age F(3, 186) = 3.017, p = .031 revealed a significant effect on novel song recognition. No significant two-way or three-way interactions were identified. In addition, the results show that music aptitude and training had no bearing on the integration of words and music in memory, and although it appears that age slightly minimizes its influence on song recall tasks, a significant asymmetry favoring text was sustained.

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Simmons!

Dr. Michael Simmons is an accomplished professional guitarist and music educator who has taught extensively for various schools and colleges in the Philadelphia area. His dissertation study sheds new light on how songs are memorized by children, and the role of words in relation to music in the learning of songs. With replication, research of this kind will likely lead to improved understandings of the effectiveness of various approaches to the teaching of song repertoire to young children.

It was a pleasure to serve as supervisory professor for this doctoral dissertation. Dr. Diana Dansereau (of Boston University) also offered stringent critique and invaluable advice that was of great help in guiding the application of statistical procedures and analysis in the study, and Dr. Jay Dorfman (Boston University) chaired our defense hearing and provided several helpful comments on the write-up of the study, particularly regarding its concluding narrative and some additional revisions.