Refereed Journals (Peer-Reviewed)
Hess, J. (2020). Teaching back: Navigating oppressive encounters in music teacher education. Visions of Research in Music Education, 34, 1-31.
Hess, J., & Talbot, B. C. (2019). Going for broke: A talk to music teachers. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 18(1), 89-116. http://act.maydaygroup.org/act-18-1-hess-and-talbot/
Hess, J. (2017). “How does that apply to me?” The gross injustice of having to translate. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 207-208, 81-100. https://doi.org/10.5406/bulcouresmusedu.207-208.0081
Hess, J. (2013). Performing tolerance and curriculum: The politics of self-congratulation, identity formation, and pedagogy in world music education. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 21(1), 66-91. http://dx.doi.org/10.2979/philmusieducrevi.21.1.66
Article Titles and Abstracts
Hess, J. (2022). When the project is not understanding: Music education for the incomprehensible. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 1-22.
In this paper, I consider pedagogical moments when the project of pedagogy is to not understand, as understanding would entail complicity with dehumanization. I explore the slipperiness of understanding and parse when understanding is helpful and when it reinscribes structures of dehumanization. I examine when it might be important in music education pedagogy to foster a refusal to understand, specifically in cases of extreme suffering that might occur in projects of dehumanization, atrocity, and genocide. Then, I explore the ethics embedded in different forms of understanding and consider why not understanding is sometimes the ethical path and tease out the complexities of such refusals to understand. Subsequently, I focus on what music might contribute to this pedagogical approach. I then explore and critique empathy and the project of empathy in education. Ultimately, I consider the role of discomfort in music education to facilitate these kinds of refusals. I center the work of several scholars in this discussion: Sherene Razack (2004, 2007), Megan Boler (1999), Jennifer Geddes (2003), Charlotte Delbo (1995/2014), Hannah Arendt (1963/2006), Marie Hållander (2015, 2019), Barbara Applebaum
(2010, 2022), and Liora Gubkin (2015).
Hess, J. (2022). Theory as the “north star”: An introduction to race theories for music education. Music Educators Journal, 109(2), 47-55. https://doi.org/10.1177/00274321221138547
To date, multiple U.S. states have passed legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and limiting teaching related to race, gender, CRT, and privilege under the umbrella term “divisive concepts.” Against this backdrop, I argue that while CRT is not taught in schools, as a theory, it provides a crucial analytical and pedagogical tool to music teachers who often grapple with racially charged situations in the classroom. I introduce tenets of CRT and antiracism and make an argument for the use of these theories to orient pedagogy.
Hess, J. (2022). Sanism and narrative research: Making room for Mad stories. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 234, 24-44.
This article considers challenges and possibilities that narrative researchers in music education might encounter when attempting to recount stories of Madness. Narrative restorying often follows a three-dimensional space structure that includes the commonplaces of temporality, sociality, and place (Clandinin, 2016; Clandinin et al., 2016; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Mad stories, however, do not easily restory into this structure. I center my own experiences of being bipolar to explore how such experiences particularly disrupt dimensions of temporality and sociality and assert that narrative researchers might learn to make room for Madness when telling stories. Moreover, I reflect on the impact of sanism—the oppression that Mad people experience—on Mad stories. In considering how narrative researchers might make space for Mad stories, I offer an expanded four-dimensional narrative structure alongside critical storytelling and draw upon the work of Patricia O’Toole (1994) and Roberta Lamb (1993–1994) to explore how researchers might represent such stories.
Hess, J. (2022). The surge toward “diversity”: Interest convergence and performative “wokeness” in music institutions. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education (Anti-Racism Special Issue), 21(2), 126-155. https://doi.org/10.22176/act21.2.126
Following the brutal murder of George Floyd by police office Derek Chauvin in summer 2020, interest in so-called “diversity” initiatives in schools of music across the U.S. and Canada has exploded. In this article, I put forward Derrick Bell’s (1995) principle of interest convergence—a key tenet of critical race theory (CRT)— in order to explore a possible convergence of interests in “diversity work” between white and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) groups
in higher education music institutions. I examine music institutions’ performances of “wokeness”at this time and then consider what Sara Ahmed (2012) calls the “non-performative” to interrogate the convergence of white interests with the interests of BIPOC communities. To conclude, I put forward ways to capitalize on this interest convergence through curricular and policy change in higher education music institutions.
Hess, J. (2021). When narrative is impossible: Difficult knowledge, storytelling, and ethical practice in narrative research and pedagogy in music education. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 20(4), 79-113. http://act.maydaygroup.org/when-narrative-is-impossible-difficult-knowledge-storytelling-and-ethical-practice-in-narrative-research-and-pedagogy-in-music-education/
Abstract: Stories impel us to grapple with the humanity of another. Using story to recount experience, however, raises both challenges and questions. This paper explores the complexities that arise when narrative researchers attempt to render stories of trauma. I draw upon what Deborah Britzman (1998) calls “difficult knowledge” to explore what encounters with stories of trauma may produce, and I consider both the potential of narrative research and the pedagogical potential of both stories and music to facilitate wrestling with difficult knowledge. I grapple with two related questions: 1) What considerations should be taken into account to engage ethically in narrative research, particularly narratives that emanate from trauma or that include stories of trauma? and 2) What considerations should be taken into account when sharing stories of trauma as an educator? I then consider both the impossibility of representation within narrative in light of difficult knowledge, and further examine how Delbo’s (1995/2014) “useless knowledge” unsettles straightforward understandings of difficult knowledge in pedagogy and in research. Finally, I explore implications for researchers and educators, followed by an examination of a politics of refusal in telling, representing, or engaging with story.
Hess, J. (2021). Becoming an anti-racist educator: Resisting whiteness in music education. Music Educators Journal, 107(4), 14-20. https://doi.org/10.1177/00274321211004695
In this article, I propose some ways that music educators might become anti-racist. I explore the ways that Whiteness manifests in music education and subsequently examine actions we might take to resist this Whiteness. Ultimately, I suggest anti-racism as a way forward for music education. I delineate some of the ways that Whiteness operates in music education, not to discourage educators but rather to encourage us to notice the way Whiteness pervades our field.
Hess, J. (2021). “Putting a face on it”: The trouble with storytelling for social justice in music education. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 29(1), 67-87. https://doi.org/https://doi-org.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/10.2979/philmusieducrevi.29.1.05
Music educators and music education researchers often rely on the use of story when advocating for social change. We may use story to illustrate a need for resources, point to a systemic injustice, illustrate a need for policy change, or identify an exclusion. Allies often utilize stories of oppression to demonstrate the untenability of situations or dehumanization experienced by particular people or groups. Stories shared, in other words, typically describe difficult, oppressive, or traumatic situations that may accomplish advocacy or social change goals but may also inadvertently reinscribe oppressive relations. This paper considers several questions in relation to this practice: What does it do for dominant group members to hear stories of marginalization? How can telling stories ultimately reinscribe oppression? How could individuals who offer their stories benefit from sharing? What educational value does telling stories offer? If storytelling carries potential for reinscribing oppression, how else might educators advocate to meet the needs identified? To theorize this type of storytelling, I put Martin Buber’s work on I-Thou in conversation with work of Homi Bhabha. Buber’s theorizing allows the consideration of different types of relations, while Bhabha provides ways to explore the effects of what Buber terms an I-It relationship on individuals subject to systemic oppression. Ultimately, I explore ways to recenter minoritized voices and examine how it might be possible to consider oppressive systems without acquiescing to the demand for story.
Hess, J. (2021). Musicking a different possible future: The role of music in imagination. Music Education Research, 23(2), 270-285. https://doi.org/10.1080/14613808.2021.1893679
Across the globe, many countries are at a nexus of multiple crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, structural racism, the climate crisis, and a severe economic downturn have all converged. These crises have wreaked havoc on minoritized communities in particular. This moment requires imagination to write a different future – to not return to the status quo. Imagination becomes crucial for fathoming a different world. Musicking – the different ways of making music that include listening, performing, creating, and beyond – may allow us to engage in such imagining. Musicking offers a vehicle for dreaming and provides a vision for the future. In this paper, I explore movements in education that inform this political moment including critical reconstructionism, abolitionism, and critical pedagogy from the perspectives of people who theorise these movements. Subsequently I consider the role the arts might play in imagining. I engage in particular the work of Bettina Love and Maxine Greene. Ultimately, I examine potential ways that different facets of musicking, including listening, performing, and creating may enable children and youth to engage in what I call the dual roles of imagination.
Hess, J. (2021). Cultural competence or the mapping of racialized space: Cartographies of music education. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 227, 7-28. https://doi.org/https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/bulcouresmusedu.227.0007
Cultural competence has received great attention in the education literature. In music education, cultural competence typically manifests as the practice of including multiple musics in the classroom and engaging in culturally responsive teaching. I argue that conceptually, these practices are cartographic. Including multiple musics and engaging in culturally responsive teaching involve mapping racialized space. This article first examines how cultural competence has been taken up in different fields in ways that are cartographic. I subsequently explore literature predominantly from the field of geography on cartography in order to consider how practices of cultural competence can be cartographic. I then return to music education to explore how culturally responsive music educators may engage in cartographic practices, as well as account for the ways that such cartographic practices have been resisted by scholars challenging the concept of cultural competence. Ultimately, I consider ways that music educators may resist cartography in their efforts to be culturally responsive, drawing on literature predominantly outside of music education to imagine possibilities.
Hess, J. (2020). Finding the “both/and”: Balancing informal and formal music learning. International Journal of Music Education, 38(3), 441-455. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761420917226
This article explores the informal and formal learning experiences of 20 activist-musicians. Multiple activist-musicians utilized the informal learning strategies Green identifies. More than half of the participants, however, bemoaned the lack of more formal music education. They noted that they valued informal musical learning practices and also wished that they had experienced more of a balance between formal and informal music learning strategies in their music education. Many of the participants identified as being self-taught. In interviews, they shared ideas about teaching themselves and “figuring things out” musically. They discussed both wanting to move away from theory and needing theory. They further preferred a structured approach to education before moving to a more “free” pedagogy. Ultimately, they noted that the human relationships intrinsic to musicking may transcend the need for “training.” This article concludes by exploring implications of implementing a balance between formal and informal learning for K-12 schooling and teacher education.
Hess, J. (2020). Towards a (self-)compassionate music education: Affirmative politics, self-compassion, and anti-oppression. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 28(2), 47-68. https://doi.org/10.2979/philmusieducrevi.28.1.04
In Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition, Glen Coulthard argues that since 1969, colonial power relations in Canada have shifted from an unconcealed structure of domination to a mode of colonial governance that operates through state recognition and accommodation. He instead looks to identify a type of recognition based on self-affirmation and self-recognition rather than state acceptance. Following Coulthard, I examine movements created to affirm oppressed groups in the context of anti-Semitism and anti-Blackness in the mid-twentieth century and explore possible limitations of such movements, including the erasure or elision of complex intersections of identity. I then draw upon self-compassion, a mental health and wellness approach, as a potential framework for the affirmative politics Coulthard theorizes. Subsequently, I consider whether such a framework offers a mechanism to provide the self-affirmation and recognition that Coulthard identifies as vital to resisting oppression. I ultimately explore how understanding music as cultural production in music education might engender this.
Hess, J., & Bradley, D. (2020). Dewey’s theory of experience, traumatic memory, and music education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 39(4), 429-446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-020-09706-z
Trauma’s ubiquity in society leads to an acknowledgement that damaging experiences likely affect more students than they leave untouched. Dewey acknowledged the importance of the past throughout his theorizing of experience and simultaneously recognized that students need to draw upon past experiences in new learning encounters. In this paper, we argue that Dewey may have opened the door to account for the possibility of traumatic experience affecting learning. We acknowledge the potential of music to prompt a trauma response and seek to explore ways that music education may also provide a mechanism for working through difficult and traumatic pasts.
Hess, J. (2020). Teaching back: Navigating oppressive encounters in music teacher education. Visions of Research in Music Education, 34, 1-31. http://www-usr.rider.edu/%7Evrme/v34n1/visions/Hess_Teaching_Back.pdf
This article explores the possibility that preservice teachers may encounter oppressive ideas during their education. I draw upon a teaching opportunity provoked by a guest speaker who utilized salvationist and deficit discourses when presenting to undergraduate music education students. Focusing on my pedagogical response to the situation which included careful consideration of salvationism, I employ autoethnography to reflect upon this experience through a theoretical framework of anti-colonialism and anti-racism. Data examined includes my teaching journal about the experience and students’ unmediated written responses to a writing prompt about the presentation completed in five minutes the following day. The discussion section explores possibilities for teacher candidates to engage Freirian critical pedagogy in their future classes. This article offers implications for explicitly teaching critical thinking in teacher education, and considering what it means to formulate and execute a pedagogical response based on both intense emotion and a theoretical orientation.
Hess, J. (2019). Moving beyond resilience education: Musical counterstorytelling. Music Education Research, 21(5), 488-502. doi:10.1080/14613808.2019.1647153
Education discourse has recently turned toward resilience and grit. This article critiques the neoliberalism embedded in resilience education and the manner in which a resilience focus encourages docility, adaptation and vulnerability in youth in response to oppressive conditions rather than addressing oppression directly. As a site of resilience for marginalised youth, music is implicated in resilience education’s failure to address systemic oppression. Drawing on Critical Race Theory (CRT), as a music educator, I challenge the tendency of resilience education to pathologise youth and individualise systemic issues and put forward songwriting within music education as a means to shift a pedagogy of vulnerability to a pedagogy of oppression that interrupts dominant narratives. I assert that a pedagogy of oppression through songwriting allows youth to create powerful musical counterstories that shift deficit discourse to focus on strengths.
Hess, J., & Talbot, B. C. (2019). Going for broke: A talk to music teachers. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 18(1), 89-116. Retrieved from http://act.maydaygroup.org/act-18-1-hess-and-talbot/.
In 1963—a racially-charged time in the United States—James Baldwin delivered “A Talk to Teachers,” urging educators to engage youth in difficult conversations about current events. We concur with Giroux (2011, 2019) that political forces influence our educational spaces and that classrooms should not be viewed as apolitical, but instead seen as sites for engagement, where educators and artists alike can “go for broke.” Drawing upon A Tribe Called Quest’s 2017 Grammy performance of “We the People...” as an example of the role of the arts in troubled times, we consider ways to work alongside youth in schools to respond, consider, and process current events through music.
Hess, J. (2019). Singing our own song: Navigating identity politics through activism in music. Research Studies in Music Education, 41(1), 61-80. doi:10.1177/1321103X18773094
This work builds upon considerations of musicking that suggest processes of performing, creating, listening, and producing of music are sites for identity formation and meaning-making activities. In this project, I interviewed 20 activist-musicians about the following dimensions of identity and meaning-making in their work: (a) how they view the role of (their) music; (b) how they situate themselves in their work; and (c) what they believe are the implications of their work for music education, based on (d) their own experiences of music. I draw on Said’s counterpoint as an analytical tool to hold conflicting identities and issues in tension without false resolution. Significantly, the majority of the activist-musicians who participated in the study saw music not only as a means of identity formation, but also as a site to engage in, express, and formulate identity politics. Together, these elements have substantive implications for music education. In imagining an activist school music education, music may enable students to navigate the politics of identity, opening up possibilities to embrace, trouble, and explore the intersections of identity. This article concludes with implications for pedagogy and curriculum in school music education and the consideration of composing as a dual act—an act of formulating identity and a musical act of assertion.
Hess, J. (2018). Revolutionary activism in striated spaces? Considering an activist music education in K-12 schooling. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 17(2), 22-49. doi:10.22176/act17.2.21
Given the hierarchies, limitations, and power embedded in institutions such as schools, this paper examines whether an activist music education that occurs inside of school can be truly revolutionary. I draw upon Deleuze and Guattari’s (2005/1987) treatise on “Nomadology and the War Machine” as a conceptual framework for this philosophical paper, exploring the definition of revolutionary activism and the (im)possibility for “creative lines of flight” to be drawn in schools. I further introduce the elements of an activist music education, as put forward by 20 activist-musicians in a qualitative study, and offer three vignettes from a fictionalized activist music program. I draw upon the vignettes to problematize the possibility of revolutionary activism in schools, pointing to the complexities of educators as both State and non-State actors, the complications introduced in considering Bell’s (1995) principle of interest convergence, and the potential of an activist education to fall into microfascist behavior. In conclusion, I note the impossibility of engaging in truly revolutionary music education in schools.
Hess, J. (2018). A “discomfortable” approach to “world music”: Reenvisioning contextualized “world music education”. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 26(1), 24-45. https://doi.org/10.2979/philmusieducrevi.26.1.03
In considering the potential of world music in music education, we might imagine ways to think about musics in cultural context or on their own terms. Engaging musics on their own terms involves embracing epistemological diversity; different epistemological frameworks accompany different musics and treating musics ethnocentrically is both an injustice and effectively an epistemological colonization. In considering how to engage musics and their accompanying sociohistorical and sociopolitical contexts on their own terms, I put forward Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on dialogism as a theoretical framework to examine the encounter, drawing also upon Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of the “strange encounter” and Megan Boler’s “pedagogy of discomfort” to consider pedagogical possibilities for fostering ethical encounters in music education and critical and mindful engagement in any musical encounter.
Hess, J. (2018). Hip hop and music education: Where is race? Journal of Popular Music Education, 2(1 & 2), 7-12. doi:10.1386/jpme.2.1-2.7_1
Engagement with hip hop – a cultural form that emerged from Black communities in New York City in the 1970s (Chang 2005) – as White listeners, musicians, educators and researchers requires asking thoughtful questions about race, racism and power. This introduction considers ethical issues that may arise from hip hop pedagogy and scholarship and explores the imperative to grapple with Whiteness when centring hip hop in our praxis. Power relations intricately shape hip hop education and hip hop research; as such, developing a practice of questioning and ‘second guessing’ ourselves as educators and researchers may allow us to develop an ethical practice for engaging with hip hop that centres race, racism and Whiteness, and refuses to reinscribe structural racist and salvationist power relations.
Hess, J. (2018). Challenging the empire in empir(e)ical research: The question of speaking in music education. Music Education Research, 20(5), 573-590. https://doi.org/10.1080/14613808.2018.1433152
As an enterprise, academic research is in the business of knowledge production—a practice through which researchers continually engage in speaking for or about others. This paper explores the colonial potential of research and ethnography in particular. I draw on Alcoff’s framework (Alcoff, L. M. 1991. “The Problem of Speaking for Others.” Cultural Critique 20 (Winter, 1991–1992): 5–32) to consider issues inherent in speaking for Others and mobilise Critical Race Theory (CRT) and anti-colonialism as tools and lenses to examine research activities with the goal of moving toward more ethical and productive outcomes. The next portion of this paper puts forward ways to guard against coloniality in research. I rethink Alcoff’s caveats through these critical lenses alongside considering possible anti-colonial methodologies. I then consider the way these dynamics operate in my own research and conclude with a number of implications for music education researchers to help us shift our research toward a more ethical, reciprocal, anti-colonial research praxis.
Hess, J. (2017). Equity and music education: Euphemisms, terminal naivety, and Whiteness. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 16(3), 15-47. http://act.maydaygroup.org/act-16-3-15-47/
In this paper, I advocate for the use of explicit language for discussions of race and call for music education to move out of terminal naivety (Vaugeois 2013) toward a heightened consciousness of political issues and racial oppressions. Employing critical race theory (CRT) as a theoretical framework, this paper examines race-related silences and the importance of using direct language to identify structural and systemic racism. I offer practical suggestions for initiating “race talk” in school music, in postsecondary music education, and in music education scholarship. These practical implications emerge from the experiences of four Toronto teachers who participated in a multiple case study on social justice and anti-racist work in music education (Hess 2013), the literature on race and silencing inside and outside music education, and my own experiences as a former public school music teacher and music teacher educator. With the surge of hate crimes and unmasked white supremacy in the United States following the election of Donald Trump,1 being explicit about race is urgent. In this paper, I put forward ways that music educators can center issues of race and racism in daily praxis.
Hess, J. (2017). Critiquing the critical: The casualties and paradoxes of critical pedagogy in music education. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 25(2), 171-191.
In the twenty-first century, many music education scholars seek to reconceptualize music education toward social justice. Critical pedagogy is at the forefront of this shift. However, as teachers aim toward equity through employing critical pedagogy, some undesired effects of using this teaching approach may arise. In this paper, I consider the problematic side of critical pedagogy and ask two important questions: Are there any restrictions or limits placed on who can enact critical pedagogy in music education? And are there any so-called “casualties” of critical pedagogy in music education or in education more generally? To consider these questions philosophically, I employ a critical race lens to explore tenets of critical pedagogy and their applications to music education, as illustrated in the ideas and practices of four elementary music teachers who strove to challenge dominant paradigms of music education. By examining critical pedagogy in music education with a critical lens, I seek to illuminate the philosophical complexities and paradoxes of engaging critical pedagogy in the classroom.
Hess, J. (2018). Troubling whiteness: Navigating white subjectivity in music education. International Journal of Music Education, 36(2), 128-144. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761417703781
At the elementary level, White, female music teachers largely populate music education. In the diverse schools of Toronto in Canada, teachers navigate their White subjectivities in a range of ways. My research examines the discourses, philosophies, and practices of four White, female elementary music educators who have striven to challenge dominant paradigms of music education. Their practices include critically engaging issues of social justice, studying a broad range of musics, and emphasizing contextualization. In many ways, these teachers interrupt the Eurocentric paradigm of music education to explore other possibilities with students. However, equity work is messy, and there were also moments that unsettled these teachers’ active equity agendas. This article describes both the subversions and the reinscriptions in a way that might be instructive to music education.
Hess, J. (2017). “How does that apply to me?” The gross injustice of having to translate. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 207-208, 81-100. doi:http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/bulcouresmusedu.207-208.0081
When we hear discourse that does not fit our own life schema but could with some subtle (or not so subtle) adjustments, the path of least resistance, in many cases, is simply to internally adjust the discourse to fit our schema. This article explores the injustice of students having to translate teacher discourse to apply to their own stories. I assert that translation is a socialized human process. The first part of this article argues that the necessity of engaging in translation is a microaggression continually encountered by individuals who embody difference. I focus specifically on the manifestations of this practice on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQQIA) community and speak directly to the injustices of heteronormative and gender normative discourses in the context of school music. Drawing on different music education settings, I point to strategic practical choices educators can employ in classroom discourse to ensure that their language and other classroom representations include all students in the classroom. The discussion portion of this article interrogates the uncomplicated nature of the discursive suggestions I put forward in light of the biopolitical issues faced by the LGBTQQIA community.
Hess, J. (2016). Interrupting the symphony: Unpacking the importance placed on classical concert experiences. Music Education Research, 18(3), 1-11. doi:10.1080/14613808.2016.1202224
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents a series of youth concerts each year to introduce and attract younger audiences to the symphony. Music teachers often attend these concerts with students, and the importance of such experiences is frequently emphasised and normalised. This article explores the historical roots of the following relations, attitudes, and practices: (1) the tendency of teachers to privilege Western European music in the curriculum; (2) the attitude that classical music is somehow ‘good for’ students; (3) the race relations that operate within a youth symphony concert; and (4) the normalisation of Western classical music in music programmes and concert-going choices. Drawing on Asante’s [1991. “The Afrocentric Idea in Education.” The Journal of Negro Education 60 (2): 170-180] concept of Afrocentric education, I look to pedagogical choices made by participants of a multiple case study in Toronto, Canada to make implications for how music educators might (1) select a wide range of music that include, but are not limited to, classical music; (2) situate such experiences within a broader global, sociopolitical context; (3) consider these Western classical concert experiences as one musical possibility of many; and (4) unsettle the power hierarchies embedded in classroom musical choices.
Hess, J. (2016). Balancing the counterpoint: Exploring musical contexts and relations. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 15(2), 46-72. Retrieved from http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Hess15_2.pdf.
Music is inherently connected to sociopolitical contexts and relations. Music and politics are intertwined both historically and presently, and there is much literature exploring the relationships between music and various political movements. In considering the importance of an approach to understand these connections and relationships, I suggest a methodology that allows us to contextually explore musics that occur both in tandem with human actions and in response to human actions. In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said (1993) put forward a contrapuntal methodology as a means to make sense of the literature and “culture” he examined in his text. Said was an accomplished pianist and often wrote of music (see, for example, Said 2006, 2008). As such, this contrapuntal methodology has the inherent musical qualities of counterpoint that include both intricate design and a delicate balance. Inherent to its structure is the examination of hegemonic culture in juxtaposition with its counterhegemonic counterpart. In this paper, I explore the notion of Said’s (1993) contrapuntal methodology and its potential relationship to music, musicking, and music education.
Hess, J. (2015). Unsettling binary thinking: Tracing an analytic trajectory of the place of indigenous musical knowledge in the academy. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 14(2), 54-84.
Six years ago, I wrote a composition about the state of indigenous music in the academy with an accompanying research paper. In this work, I attempted to trace the presence of indigenous music in the institution both musically and through an anti-colonial lens. The writing was structured around three musical snapshots entitled Subjugation, Cognitive Dissonance, and Recognition that represented what I saw as the present and future trajectory of indigenous musical knowledges in the academy. The accompanying paper wrestled theoretically with the same concepts the music represented. At the time, I was ambivalent about the work, but did not have a sophisticated enough theoretical understanding to articulate the reasons. Presently, I better understand my discomfort with the work. In this paper, I reflect on my binary thinking of six years ago, the changes in my thinking, the reasons for those changes, and my analysis of these issues presently.
Hess, J. (2015). Upping the “anti-”: The value of an anti-racist theoretical framework in music education. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 14(1), 66-92.
In a time that some have argued is “postracial” following the election and reelection of Barack Obama (see Wise 2010, for discussion), this paper argues that anti-racism is a crucial theoretical framework for music education. I explore three areas of music education, in which such a framework can push toward change. The first area speaks directly to positionality and recognition of where students are situated in the matrix of domination (Collins 2000). Secondly, anti-racism encourages multicentricity and readily allows for multiple epistemologies or ways of knowing the world, in a manner quite contrary to a more ensemble-based paradigm. Finally, this critical theoretical orientation enables the pursuit of an equity agenda in the actual practice of teaching. In order to give practical context to these ideas, I draw on research from a multiple case study of four elementary music teachers in a large Canadian city. To varying extents, all four teachers employed an anti-racist orientation in their teaching. I use examples from three teachers in the field to illustrate how teachers used this orientation to implement differential recognition, encourage the use of multiple epistemologies, and pursue conversations about equity.
Hess, J. (2015). Decolonizing music education: Moving beyond tokenism. International Journal of Music Education, 33(3), 336-347.
Current music education curricula across Canada designate Western classical music as the music most worthy of study through emphasis on elements of music that are decidedly Western. Despite the way the curriculum is constructed, many music teachers strive to create diverse programs for their students. In her examination of women’s studies programs, Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2003) puts forward three curricular models that describe the manner in which “Other” subject material is engaged in the curriculum within the discipline of women’s studies. I rethink her pedagogical models and apply them to music education. Mohanty’s first two models are more tokenistic in nature while the third model is comparative. While there are benefits to the first two models, the third, when applied to music, reveals that musics are better understood relationally. Mohanty’s (2003) third pedagogical model has much to offer music education.
Hess, J. (2014). Radical musicking: Toward a pedagogy of social change. Music Education Research, 16(2), 229-250. DOI: 10.1080/14613808.2014.909397.
This research examines the work of four elementary music educators who strive to challenge the dominant paradigm of music education. I employed the methodology of a multiple case study to consider the discourses, practices and philosophies of these four educators. I observed in each school for an eight-week period for two full days each week, conducting semi-structured interviews at the beginning, middle and end of each observation process. At each school, I followed an observation protocol, in addition to completing three interviews and keeping a journal. In this work, I mobilise a tri-faceted lens that combines the theoretical frameworks of anti-colonialism, anti-racism and anti-racist feminism towards counterhegemonic goals. The teachers’ diverse practices include critically engaging with issues of social justice, studying a broad range of musics, introducing multiple musical epistemologies, contextualising musics, considering differential privilege and subverting hegemonic practices. In many ways, these four individuals interrupt the traditional Eurocentric focus on Western classical music to explore different possibilities with their students. I argue that a truly radical music education involves shifting from a liberal to a critical paradigm. Drawing on the work of French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, Russian literary theorist Bakhtin and music education philosopher Elizabeth Gould, I work to reread the findings of this study radically, and ultimately put forward tenets of a radical music education.
Hess, J. (2013). Performing tolerance and curriculum: The politics of self-congratulation, identity formation, and pedagogy in world music education. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 21(1), 66-91.
This article explores how it might be possible to engage in world music ethically. I examine ways that traditional engagements can be problematic in order to push towards new possibilities for encounters and engagement. I begin by considering my own experience with world music. Moving to the theoretical, I consider “world music” study and the ways in which it defines the white, bourgeois subject, both socially and professionally. My conception of world music is spatial and temporal, as it represents journey into a culture in order to learn its music. From identity formation, I then consider curriculum and pedagogy, concluding by offering several alternative practices that may allow for an ethical, non-essentializing approach to the study of world music. I align these culminating suggestions, in some ways, with principles of critical pedagogy.
Hess, J. (2013). Performing the “exotic?”: Constructing an ethical world music ensemble. Visions of Research in Music Education, 23, 1-24.
The Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble was a Ghanaian music ensemble that focused on Ewe music. I founded this ensemble in the elementary school where I taught in the Toronto area. From the time of its founding, one of the overarching goals I had for the group was a disruption of images and stereotypes that the students held of Africa in general, and more specifically, of Ghana. How did the students perceive Africa? Did the ensemble change their perceptions at all? How did my own positionality, as a white, Western woman enter the picture? How did students’ ensemble participation affect them politically? During the ensemble’s fourth year, I conducted a qualitative study to investigate these questions. I interviewed nine students from age 9 to 13 for their perceptions of the effects of their ensemble participation. This article examines the ways in which participation in the ensemble sustained stereotypes and media images as well as other images that commodify and exotify the Ghanaian culture. This article also investigates the ways in which music may disrupt these images. I conclude with implications for the place of the world music ensemble in music education, exploring both the political caveats that come with implementing such a program and potential ethical ways of creating world music ensembles in the public school system.
Hess, J. (2012). Docile choristers and the “choir machine”: A search for agency in “choir”. Proteus: A Journal of Ideas, 28(1), 37-48.
No abstract available.
Hess, J. (2010). Musically creolizing subjects: (Re)Envisioning world music education. Encounters on Education, 11(Fall 2010), 155-166.
This paper explores possibilities for constructing creole subjects through world music education. Creolization results from the “fusing and mixing of cultures forced to cohabit together to render something else possible” (Walcott, 2009, p. 170 citing Hall, 2003, p. 193). As cultures fuse musically, our identity shifts. We become creole subjects through the encounters we experience, particularly, Walcott (2009) suggests, in highly diverse urban spaces. The mobile nature of cultures is intrinsic to world music. My participation in an Ewe ensemble in Toronto demonstrates that cultures travel musically. The question then becomes: when cultures travel, who or what is refigured or remade and what becomes possible after the encounter? I posit that these encounters affect all parties; people become creole subjects — subjects constantly affected by their continuously changing cultural environments.
In this paper, I think about this idea from a utopian perspective. I find thinking in this manner particularly useful in thinking about the future. In many ways, I feel we are mired down in academia with discussions of race and the “crisis of raciology” (Gilroy, 2000, Chapter 1) and that it might be quite productive to think beyond. I begin by arguing that there is the potential for world music education to be a colonizing project. I look specifically to Said (1993) and Thobani (2007) to inform my thinking on this topic. From there, I explore what might happen when an encounter facilitated through world music education occurs and the impact that this encounter could have on the way we define the category of the human. Finally, I think about what might occur after this encounter and redefinition take place.
Hess, J. (2010). The Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble: Motivations for student participation in a school world music ensemble. Research Studies in Music Education, 32(1), 23-42.
The Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble is a world music ensemble at the elementary level that focuses on Ghanaian music in the Ewe tradition. The ensemble consists of students in grades 4 through grade 8 and is one of the few world music ensembles in the school board. This article will examine the qualitative data from the interviews of nine students participating in the ensemble at the time of study (2007), exploring both their motivations for joining and for remaining in the Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble. Motivations will be examined categorically, considering the different musical, psychological and social motivations the students cite as their reasons for ensemble participation. The data concludes that there are many musical, psychological, and social reasons for ensemble participation and offers implications for music education.
Hess, J. (2009). The oral tradition in the Sankofa Drum & Dance Ensemble: Student perceptions. Music Education Research, 11(1), 57-75.
The Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble is a Ghanaian drum and dance ensemble that focusses on music in the Ewe tradition. It is based on an elementary school in the Greater Toronto Area and consists of students in Grade 4 through Grade 8. Students in the ensemble study Ghanaian traditional Ewe drumming and dancing in the oral tradition. Nine students were interviewed for their perceptions of the effects of their ensemble participation on their lives. Feelings about being taught through the oral tradition instead of through notation were extremely strong. Students much preferred being taught aurally. Their comments on the aural and written musical learning styles are quite insightful and have powerful implications for music education.