My research focuses broadly on the intersection of music, community engagement, and social change, with three trajectories: (1) discursive analysis of music, community, and social inclusion; (2) qualitative research on racial justice and decolonization in music education; (3) developing participatory research-creation processes.
Discursive analysis of music, community, and social inclusion
My doctoral dissertation (completed in 2015) investigated the emergence of community music as a discourse in Toronto at the turn of the twentieth century, exploring how particular forms of music were used to cultivate poor and immigrant youth into citizens. My research earned the SOCAN/MusCan Award for Writings in Canadian Music, and I have been invited to present at Queen’s University, McMaster University, and the University of Alberta. Out of my doctoral research, I have published two peer-reviewed articles (in the journals Action, Criticism, and Theory in Music Education, and MusiCULTURES), one chapter to be published in the Routledge Handbook on Sociology in Music Education (edited by Ruth Wright), and presented at numerous conferences. I have secured a contract with WLU Press to author a monograph, with a full draft to be sent to the editor in summer of 2020.
In the summer of my first year at Laurier (2018), I conducted an analysis of the term ‘inclusion’ in community music scholarship, mentoring an undergraduate student in this research. Together, we authored two publications: an article published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Community Music in 2019, and a chapter in the forthcoming edited collection Walking the boundaries, bridging the gaps: How community music engages those in the margins of society (edited by Lee Willingham and published by WLU Press).
Qualitative research on racial justice and decolonization in music education
I am currently the Principal Investigator on a SSHRC-funded The Gahu Project. Delivered in partnership with Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), the project focuses on participatory music and racial justice in high schools. One component of the project is research-creation: over 300 students from six Waterloo region high schools explored racial justice through dialogue and through learning Gahu, a Ghanaian form of music, dance and drumming. The second component was participatory action research. I worked with 20 students of a Black Students Union who explored their experiences of high school climates in relation to their involvement in The Gahu Project. The high school students were trained in interviewing, participant-observation, and also spoke to media about their research. The Gahu Project is funded through a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant of $24,829 (ranked 7 of 44 applications). I collaborated with Dr. Funke Oba (Social Work, University of Regina), and two Waterloo community organizations: African Community Wellness Initiative, and the Centre for Sound Music Education. I also received a $5,000 grant from Laurier International to provide paid opportunities for undergraduate music students to apprentice with workshop leaders.
I have recently begun exploring questions of colonization and decolonization in higher music education in collaboration with Guillermo Rosabal-Coto (Universidad de Costa Rica). A much more personal project, this collaboration asks each of us to grapple with colonization and decolonization in music education in our own higher education classrooms. We presented our preliminary themes at the International Society for Sociology in Music Education in June 2019, and have since successfully proposed a chapter in the edited collection Milestones and intersections in the sociology of music education (edited by Carol Frierson-Campbell to be published by Indiana University Press). Since then, I have become an External Research Collaborator on Dr. Rosabal-Coto’s two-year project Saberes subalternos y pedagogías críticas en la educación musical a escala internacional: Hacia epistemologías del sur en la educación musical.
I have explored participatory research-creation as both a methodology and a knowledge mobilization strategy. I engaged in a multi-media collaborative autoethnography with my colleague Kiera Galway (Memorial University Newfoundland) exploring geographies of our professional identities . We premiered our performance to a packed audience at the International Society for Music Education in 2014, which led to an encore presentation at the University of Toronto in 2015. We subsequently redesigned our live presentation into a video that was published in the peer-reviewed performance studies journal Liminalities.
I have since explored participatory research-creation as a knowledge mobilization strategy, aiming to make my historical research relevant to a contemporary audience. I developed a participatory performance project that explored the history of social dance and citizenship through combined lecture and interactive dancing. I piloted this presentation at the Community Music Activity Seminar in Edinburgh in 2016, and then presented at the Arts-based Research Studio at the University of Alberta. In an effort to expand my knowledge and practice of participatory research-creation, I recently became a co-applicant with researchers from Concordia University on a SSHRC Insight grant proposal worth $379,649 submitted in October 2019. If funded, the five-year exploratory project, Reflective Iterative Scenario Enactments (RISE), will bring together community music, opera production, and artificial intelligence to create ten mini-operas imagining futures of catastrophes, collaborations, and human-AI interactions.