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What would happen if your school band only played music by composers of colour?

Music director of Spring Lake Middle School in Minnesota, Brian Lukkasson spoke to the NPR about the music program’s “commitment this year to only buy music from composers of [colour]”.

The controversial and culturally engaging decision arose from a discussion with students and staff about the conversation of race within music, and how best to formulate that narrative within their curriculum.

“The more you practice talking about race and culture and ethnicity, the more comfortable you are. And we have this platform in ninth.”

Minnesota Piece composers of colour

A middle school in Spring Lake Minnesota has made the conscious decision to only include music by composers of colour in their school band’s repertoire.

It is widely known within the orchestral community that compositions by those of colour and indeed by women are far lesser produced, performed and celebrated than their white male counterparts. “I really, really want other students of [colour] to be able to feel like they are welcomed and appreciated anywhere, that they don’t have to check themselves at the door wherever they go”

Music included in Spring Lake’s new scheme includes composers from of Vietnamese, African and Middle Eastern descent as well as established black American greats like Duke Ellington in a mix of contemporary and classic pieces.

This may prove to be a model which Australian schools and orchestras could use in order to progress the conversation for diversity within their music.

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February 21, 2017