Supporting transgender and other students communicate through music creation

composing, Contemporary Issues, music education, socio-cultural IssuesNo Comments

You Are Here:, Contemporary Issues, music education, socio-cultural IssuesSupporting transgender and other students communicate through music creation

CNN recently featured a story on Marcelas Owens and her journey from being known as the Obamacare Kid years ago to transitioning as a transgender teen. The story addresses a number of important themes, one of which might not receive as much attention from the media, which is the power that music played in her life. The article suggests that Marcelas “writes songs to express what she struggles to say to others in conversations” and “finds refuge in the music she listens to at home.” One of the photos even features Marcelas with headphones, using a MIDI controller, audio interface, and laptop to create music. A different article from 2015 also includes this quote by Marcelas “I have some songs about people accepting themselves, being cool with themselves in their own mind. . . I think that’s a big part of everything.”

To what extent do K-12 and community music programs provide young people with opportunities to create music to express themselves in ways that might not be available through other means of communication?

How are we supporting the development of skills, aesthetic decision making, creative process, and story telling in music classes and ensembles?

Are our music programs safe and supportive places for students to tell stories that touch on issues such as being transgender and varied life experiences or transitions?

These are questions that music educators ought to ask and discuss in relation to curriculum and pedagogy.

Music education is evolving to address LGBTQ issues as well. For instance, the upcoming LGBTQ Studies and Music Education III conference occuring at University of Illinois May 18-21 2016 will seek answers to the following questions:

  1. How can music educators address social issues surrounding equality
    and privilege that stem from gender and sexuality identity constructions?
  2. How can we create socially responsive learning opportunities that
    support LGBTQ members of our local communities?
  3. How can we engage with policy, research, and local and national
    partnerships to develop increased awareness in ourselves and support for
    LGBTQ individuals and groups?
  4. What might LGBTQ inclusive and supportive music education programs look like at primary and secondary grade levels and higher education settings?

Find a sampling of journal articles that address LGBTQ issues focusing on students in music education below: (Also see prior posts here that address composition or music creation in some manner.)

Also consider taking a look at the electronic conference proceedings of  LGBTQ Studies in Music Education 2010 Electronic Conference Proceedings.

Updated 4/8/16 – NPR’s Here and Now recently shared a wonderful story on the Butterly Music Transgender Chorus. It is well worth listening to and raises important points that music educators ought to consider.

If you are interested in being more active in the field around these issues, consider joining the NAfME Gender and Sexuality Special Interest Group.

To what extent does your music program support students who need to express themselves through creating music?

What do know or wish you knew about supporting students who often face discrimination or are marginalized in schools or their local communities?

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