kids-dancing-silhouettesOn Wednesday (May 13) at 3:30 p.m., Dawn Corso will give the second lecture in the Arizona Senior Academy series, “Ethnomusicology:  Music in a Cultural Context.” With audio and video clips as aides, she will describe the ways in which young African-American girls, ages 6 to 12, learned music and dance moves in a Tucson elementary school and neighborhood center where she was a teacher.

Her program will invite audience participation.  Come prepared to sing and move a little.

Corso’s doctoral research from the University of Illinois focused on informal contexts of music and dance learning and their application to musical education, especially in regards to African-American girls.

Musical learning and expression flourished on the playground where she taught, Corso observed.   Working together, children engaged in games of rhythmic hand-clapping, jump-roping with singing, step-dancing, drills, cheers, and chants—some of them choreographed, others spontaneous and completely creative.

Dawn Corso
Dawn Corso

Older girls with more experience assumed leadership roles by teaching songs and moves to younger students.  In addition to helping children acquire and pass on musical and social skills, this playground community of practice strengthened bonds of friendship.

Corso  a performer, educator and ethnomusicologist, integrates many musical disciplines.  She is a coloratura soprano, a band and choir conductor, and a teacher of music and music education at both the elementary and university levels.  The trumpet and the Shona mbira—the thumb piano of Zimbabwe—are among the instruments she plays.

Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer

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Learning Musical Traditions From African-American Kids: May 2015