Wednesday, February 22, 2023 8pm
About this Event
Moore Musical Arts Center, Bowling Green, OH 43403#bgsucma
Our weekly Faculty Artist Series presents our Faculty Scholars in lectures on various topics. This event is free and open to the public, and will also be livestreamed.
Elizabeth Menard, music education
Mentoring Young Composers: Collaborative Pathways for Developing Musicianship
Music composition is a problem-solving process that is important in the intellectual, social, and emotional development of children. Creativity has been identified as a standard in both state and national music education standards, with composition identified as an important skill in music education. However, music teachers often express concerns about including music composition instruction in traditional music classrooms. Teachers often feel that they have not been trained as composers, therefore, teaching composition is not applicable in their classrooms. They may also believe that the time needed to plan and implement composition activities interferes with traditional instruction. This presentation will share how music educators might reframe the process of “teaching” composition within K-12 public school settings. A more effective approach to instruction may be to view it less as teaching and more as a process of mentorship. Mentorship of young composers can be viewed as a form of creative collaboration between teacher and student. Research in the area of teaching composition will be explored and examples of composition mentorship will be shared. Through examination of these resources and mentorship programs, guidelines and strategies for effective mentorship of young composers are identified. Benefits of a collaborative mentorship process for both teachers and students are also discussed. In the collaborative mentorship process, both teachers and students can develop greater confidence in their creative abilities and gain improved identity as composers.
Arne Spohr, musicology
Colonial Soundscapes in Otto Friedrich von der Gröben’s Guinean Travelogue (1694)
In July 1682, two frigates under the command of Brandenburg explorer Otto Friedrich von der Gröben (1657-1728)—staffed with soldiers, engineers, and craftsmen—set sail from Northern Germany toward the coast of West Africa. They were sent by Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg who sought to turn his Baltic hinterland state into a major player in the profitable transatlantic slave trade. On January 1, 1683, Gröben founded on the coast of today’s Ghana the trading post of Großfriedrichsburg, which was to become a major hub for the trafficking of enslaved people to the Caribbean.
Gröben’s published account of his journey, his Guinean Travelogue (1694), not only sheds light on early modern Germany’s involvement in the slave trade but is also notable for its unusually detailed, yet largely overlooked observations of West African musical practices and musical encounters between Africans and Europeans. Gröben acutely describes West African instruments and their use in social gatherings, dancing, religious ceremonies, and military culture. Moreover, he also illustrates the use of Western instruments in his expedition. A band of shawm players and kettledrummers performed at burials at sea, sounded military signals and played during diplomatic interactions with representatives of other European colonial powers and African nobility. In one particularly illuminating encounter, a group of African dancers asked the shawm players to perform for them, so that they could demonstrate to Gröben “how they danced for joy.” When the shawms played a “Polish dance,” Gröben observed that those dancers “capered so adroitly that no dancing master would have excelled them.”
Beyond locating Gröben’s observations in specific West African musical and cultural practices, my close reading of his Guinean Travelogue builds on methodologies from Emily Wilbourne’s and Suzanne Cusick’s recent edited volume Acoustemologies in Contact to examine colonial soundscapes as “contact zones” which elicited “communication, comprehension and […] categorization” within highly asymmetrical power structures. Far from being an objective observer, as has been frequently claimed, I will demonstrate that Gröben engaged in discourses of European cultural and racial superiority that ultimately served to justify the enslavement of thousands of Africans in Brandenburg’s name.
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