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A bridge towards better understanding.

An insight into 'otherness' through the connection of cultural expression

Article by Christoph Maubach, edited by Bethany Elsworth.

In an article entitled ‘Bewegungs- und Musikerziehung als Einheit’, Carl Orff (1931) refers to the Non-European influences in music and movement education:

A new pedagogy now champions music teaching not just as a conclusive, separate and compatible input, rather, it wants to build a music education out of movement and out of their common roots, eurhythmics. It is no coincidence that here in Europe as we are searching for this kind of unity, consciously or subconsciously we are relying on outer-European play forms where these links are still alive [1].

Almost a century later the interest in non-western music and the engagement with unfamiliar sounds, movements, customs and unusual rhythms seems stronger than ever. Music and dance from foreign places and other cultures often have intriguing features and spark curiosity. This is also the case in music and movement education. Musical cultural exchange is more available to a wider range of people because of a myriad of digital communication tools.

But there are other important reasons which make the engagement with other people’s cultural expressions a central theme in education…

Millions of people seek refuge in other countries and communities as they move from war-torn or climate change affected regions. This requires a humanistic response based on understanding and empathy. Pedagogies which foster an understanding of the values and the needs of other humans can help build peaceful coexistence. This requires an engagement with otherness, and that what is foreign in one group can result in the way they express their views of another group of people. Involvement with other music and dance examples can become a bridge towards a better understanding however, it is not only the engagement with the sounds and the music for their own sake that is worth exploring. Rather it is the approach to the meaning of cultural expressions that will offer a deeper understanding. One could say: sound as well as meaning.

Some ‘Orff-Schulwerk Heute’ magazine issues (German/English) formerly known as ‘Orff-Schulwerk Informationen’ deal with this theme. The magazines are available online and I find issues 93 and 94 especially intriguing as they engage with the themes of Interculturalism and Multiculturalism. It’s worth having a look!

[1] Orff, Carl:Bewegungs- und Musikerziehung als Einheit, in: Die Musik Jg. 23 (1930/31), 732-734, Neudruck in: Kugler 2002, 169-172

Orff-Schulwerk Heute’ magazine issue #93, Interkulturalität in der Elementaren Musik- und Tanzerziehung

Interculturality in the Elemental Music and Dance Pedagogy - link.

Orff-Schulwerk Heute’ magazine issue #94, Interkulturalität in der Elementaren Musik- und Tanzerziehung II

Interculturality in Elemental Music and Dance Pedagogy II - link.

Christoph Maubach is currently a free-lance music and movement teacher and workshop facilitator. He is co-creator of resources such as Children Dances of Terra del Zur by Shenanigans and Step Back Sally. He has conducted music professional development activities in Taiwan, Australia, China and many other countries. After retiring from the University of Waikato in New Zealand he continued music activities in Kindergartens, schools and communities. And in recent times Christoph has conducted music and dance activities with children, families and teachers in Berlin and in Brandenburg, Germany.

Christoph had moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1980 after his studies at the Orff Institute in Salzburg. In Melbourne he had been a lecturer at ACU before becoming a Senior Lecturer in Music Education at Waikato University in New Zealand and then moving back to his native Germany.


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