Graham is giving this talk at a CRASSH one day conference, Sound and the City, in Cambridge on Friday 22nd February. Hopefully a little micro-site will follow the talk, with links to some of the projects and ideas discussed.
Expanding the learning soundscape: notes from some interventions in urban arts education
To what extent is the embodied experience of the sonic open to exploration and reinvention within formal educational settings? Arguably the tools are cheap and ubiquitous, and in popularised forms they are persistent in the everyday lives of young people - from customising ringtones, making iPod playlists to beatcrunching and sonic cut-ups using readily available technologies. But music education often seems locked into a fairly closed view of its limits; the place of sound and its meanings is rarely discussed, and 'school music' is almost a sub-genre of its own, often displaying more conservatism than the fields of professional music-making. Tracking down an alternative story to the easy norms of 'music education', I will share some experiments in sound which were developed between artists, students and communities in East London in the first half of this decade. These are perhaps best understood when located in experimental traditions of arts education, participatory arts and sonic experimentation; and gain some of their expressive power from times of turbulent social and economic change, diverse multiethnnic communities, collaboration with theatre, dance and the visual arts and the gradual uptake of digital technologies in the music classroom. The projects surveyed also depend on subtle interactions between teachers and artists, working in collaboration with learners and communities. They foreground collaborative pedagogies, conversational learning, and exploratory approaches, playing attention to issues of place, space and the auditory, and so pointing towards a much broader conception of the 'music curriculum' than most syllabi and formal examinations allow for.