Late to the party (because, reasons). Currently kneedeep in related issues (because, passion finally meeting work).
So, I’m Alex Enkerli, an ethnographer and technopedagogue. Trained in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University (after going to music school in college for classical saxophone and getting my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Linguistic Anthropology at Université de Montréal). My PhD research (undefended) was on the relationships between music and language in praise-songs in the freemasonry-like secret societies for hunters in West Africa (fieldwork in Mali in 1998 and 2002).
I’ve taught diverse courses in a variety of ethnographic disciplines over the years (nine universities in the US and Canada, since 1999). However, I only had a few occasions to teach one of my favourite courses which, at Concordia University, was called “ANTH398D Selected Topics in Anthropology: Ethnomusicology”.
If I remember correctly, we’ve addressed issues related to access to musical examples in every iteration of that course. Sometimes, I’d bring it up as a topic in the syllabus (often using the ethnographic literature which deconstructs some Eurocentric ideas about copyright). Other times, learners would cue me in to new issues.
Typically, I made my own playlists. At some point, because YouTube, students started sharing things with the class. One striking example was a video of a performance of a cover of the Pachelbel fused with Hip Hop and a traditional Korean ensemble. It really helped us discuss things.
To be clear, my approach in such a course tends to be quite broad. Some students do go quite deeply on music appreciation, performance practice, field recordings, etc. Others remained in what Merriam would have called “Concept”. It was all allowed, in part because I didn’t require any formal experience in musicking or any formal knowledge of musical concepts.
For the past several years, I’ve been conducting extremely informal, slow-paced, self-funded field research in electronic musicking. My only academic article “in, like, forever” was published in French in 2019 in Anthropologie et sociétés.
Son propre son : bricolage sonore et appropriatio… – Anthropologie et Sociétés – Érudit (erudit.org)
How do we appropriate technology through sound? How do we appropriate sound through technology?
In that context, I’ve created and facilitated workshops with diverse groups about alternative approaches to musical learning. For instance, I’ve used Sonic Pi for museum sessions, workshops with children, in-class workshops in Higher Education, and even workshops with teachers.
(The latter group was the hardest. “Why don’t we use this other thing?”, “What are trying to get us to do?”, “How are we supposed to explore freely if we don’t have a set goal and guidelines to be assessed formally later?”.)
Sonic Pi - The Live Coding Music Synth for Everyone (sonic-pi.net)
And, then, my current dayjob is primarily on OER. (I’ve been passionate about this since at least 2007.)
With a composer friend of mine who’s taught “music theory” in the US Northeast, I’ve been having ideas for learning material (not necessarily a textbook) which would forgo some -centrisms. Like Eurocentrism and pianocentrism. Yes, acknowledge the importance of these things in the contemporary music world. Putting them in context.
My emphasis, these days, is on finding alternatives to staff notation. Not that it’s evil or anything. It’s ideally-suited for a certain type of music… which has dominated for too long. As YouTuber Adam Neely recently popularized Philip Ewell’s work, we also realize that the theoretical underpinnings for current use might be… less than inclusive.
Music Theory and White Supremacy - YouTube
Besides, I really think learning resources should reach learners where they are. With the current state of musicking around the world, there’s a whole lot which can be done through diverse means. For instance, African musicians are currently appropriating modular synthesizers the way that Jamaican ones turned the whole field of electronic music around. Collaborations among musickers around the World take completely new turns.
Thanks to open ears, minds, and hearts.