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Why read ‘If I Were A Racist’?

Although it was written by myself, ‘If I Were A Racist’ draws from the work of many writers

and thinkers. People such as Philip Ewell, Juliet Hess, Martin Urbach, Matthew Morrison,

Walter Mignolo, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Brandi Waller-Pace, bell hooks, Darren Hamilton,

Diljeet Bhachu, Eric Williams, Khyam Allami and many many others. This book has been

designed to be used as a starting point for thinking and discussions around how music has

been influenced by the social construct of race, and racism. It’s been crafted to expand on

topics such as the role of notation, the importance of historical contexts and decolonisation

to name a few.


The emphasis is on the starting point. Far from being a book which offers step-by-step

solutions to complex problems, ‘If I Were A Racist’ offers up themes and questions which

may arise when dealing with the many intricacies of race and racism in music education.

These themes or questions are not only confined to how they affect Black and Brown folks,

but how everyone is affected by a system which could cater for a variety of needs and

understandings about many styles of music. As Philip Ewell graciously put it in the

foreword:


p.15 Ultimately, his is a call to action, a call to treat all music of our planet with equal dignity

and equal humanity.


For example, when thinking about reading notation and learning aurally, we can see how

the failure to consider aurality as a viable alternative (or equal addition) pedagogic

alternative, is the knock on effect for folks who are steeped in traditions whose music sit

outside of the European classical model.


p.34 While there are many examples within curricula and examinations that require aural training (i.e. interval and cadence recognition), it is the processes of listening, picking out specific parts, blending with other musicians, changing key spontaneously, and applying all these lessons to performances that takes a back seat with the focus on European classical music and learning staff notation. The focus on this way of musicking, therefore, prohibits peoples who do not possess the finances or certain forms of cultural capital from becoming music teachers, and being able to teach ways of learning based on their own experience and expertise.


If you are a curriculum developer, teacher, workshop leader, editor or policy maker, this

book was written with you in mind. I encourage you to use it as a springboard to dive

deeper into these topics, in the hopes of making music education better for all.

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