In July 2018, I attended the 33rd World Conference of the International Society of Music Education’s (ISME) in Baku, Azerbaijan. Two years ago, I was introduced to the world of ISME when I attended the Community Music Activity (CMA) Pre-conference in Scotland in 2016 (read that blog here!). I returned to this pre-conference in Tblisi, Georgia before the main ISME conference in Azerbaijan.
ISME is present in over 80 countries, is the premiere international organisation for music education and believes every individual has a right to music education. The Society has 7 commissions and 1 forum which have specialized areas of research and information gathering and dissemination. The Commissions are:
As a community musician developing expertise various areas, peeking into the world of so many specializations in one location was a rare opportunity! I met and interacted with a very wide network of uniquely specialized global music educators. Here are just a few of the rich topics covered in presentations and workshops:
Most of the time, as a community music practitioner, I feel isolated in my work. Not only because of the geographical remoteness of the city I live in (Yellowknife), but also because I have no provincial or national association or institution whose membership might connect me to a team of peers. I am a music educator, music-facilitator and community builder, working in the community setting. My work is with local organizations and the public.
Ironically, at this conference half-way around the world, I learned about the two national music education associations in my own country; The Canadian Music Educators Association (CMEA) is focused on serving music educators working in the school setting (my work is not in schools) and The Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association (CMFTA) which restricts membership to those having formal classical music performance abilities (I am not eligible for that association, either). Neither of these organizations were present at the conference – I learned about them through colleagues and on their website. Furthermore, not being a researcher or professor in a higher education institution, and without a university my city, I am essentially disconnected from the research world.
As for the CMA Pre-Conference in Georgia, what I really appreciated was the rich Georgian group singing experiences I heard and was invited to take part in, as well as the relationship building with my peers and colleagues. What stood out for me in the community music discourse, however, was seeing the boxes being built around practices, the rough spots at the edges of our programs, and the incongruences between word and practice. Here are a few key messages that I am left with:
Thankfully, attending this world conference provided me with a rich opportunity to network, build relationships, be inspired and learn about ideas, organizations, projects and fresh ways of thinking and approaching my work. I am reminded me that, although I do business in a small, remote city in Northern Canada, I do have a place in a global context of community musicians, music educators and change makers.
Thank you to the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for funding a significant portion of my travel expenses and conference fees!
|Music is for everyone!||