Understanding Aboriginal music for the understanding of Aboriginal cultures
Master of Education
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How do Aboriginal musicians and music professionals make connections between their music and their cultures? This qualitative study explores the interconnections between Aboriginal music and Aboriginal cultures and considers the implications for teaching music. Scholars contend that Aboriginal cultures and their music are related and holistic, offering an understanding of each other (Kennedy, 2009; Makinlay, 2008; Whidden, 2007). Canadian scholars mostly explore traditional Aboriginal music. Fewer scholars explore the connections between contemporary Aboriginal music and culture from across a range of Nations within the Canadian context. Even fewer scholars study connections between contemporary Aboriginal music and culture and how these linkages inform teaching music. To address this gap, Hovorka designed a study employing Indigenous methodologies with portraiture methodology. She combined arts-based methods and ethnomusicology to create textual portraits of participants. She purposely selected five participants, including traditional and contemporary Aboriginal musicians, as well as music industry professionals from a variety of Nations across Canada, to explore the connections they make between their music and their cultures and how it might inform music curricula in schools. Data collection methods included videotaped individual semi-structured interviews followed by two focus groups. The data were transcribed and then coded and analyzed using descriptive, interpretive and pattern coding methods. Three themes emerged, Aboriginal music: (1) heals the effects of assimilation and colonization; (2) expresses connections between Aboriginal traditions and music through spiritual and physical connections to the Earth with an emphasis on the drum; and (3) serves as an essential tool to disseminate knowledge from generation to generation. Keywords: Aboriginal musics, Aboriginal cultures, Aboriginal education, colonialism.