A Matter of Context – Cambodia and the world

Much of what I have previously written here has centred around the challenges of the music lesson in today’s context – given the constant stream of media, yadda yadda – but I just read Kallio and Westerlund’s article about music education in Cambodia – check out the abstract here.

A heightened and immanent example of what is happening all around the globe, in my opinion. The choice between preserving (not to mention reviving, as in this case) a tradition and letting it change is as important historically as it is for education. Whats the use in hammering in sacrosanct content – and basing whole teaching methodologies on it – when the student as a result perceives more the gap between it and current culture? This is surely a self-defeating objective – a revival by isolation.

On the other hand, is it the fate of all culture to become one homogenous blob – where ‘folk’ music from all around the world gets confused with ‘pop’ (if you’ll excuse the indulgence in genres for a second), and specifically ‘pop’ whose object is to appeal to as many listeners as possible?

And yet, we have all heard and cited the possibility of popular niches in music afforded by the web. Who knows? If more Cambodian folk music was up on YouTube, supplemented with electronic beats, we might all be listening to it a lot more. You might cite the cross-pollination sound of Kila as bringing niches together, such as Irish and African traditional musics, forming new fan-bases all around.(I know I’ve been listening to more African music since my first Kila listening experience!)

I suppose we have to wake up to extremes in our(my?) thinking and realise that openness is the name of the game in the information age. Practitioners of traditional musics have to be open to change, and we have to be open to listen. To bring this back to our theme of music education, it just what I’m continually asserting – the teacher has to be open to the student if the lessons are to be applicable for them, while also maintaining control of the learning curve. Im sure that if both ends of the bargain are kept, more and more exciting things can happen!

Which leaves me with a question – what term could we give to a type of education that simultaneously creates its own content as the learning progresses?

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