10.     Developing a global mindset, transcultural and intercultural education


This section will look briefly at the area of global music education. It is a vast topic which we will not delve into here, but rather look at the implications in this area from my journey to discover bi-musicality. Many education systems see globalizing music education as an important part of the curriculum, realizing that today we are all in some degree international, but we need to work on becoming "a truly cultural sensitive global community: (Kertz-Welzel, 2018, p.9). As with multicultural societies when one culture is not seen as better than any other, globalizing music seeks to make each cultural music accepted by the other. This is not always an easy task. 


 In order to be able to appreciate music from different cultures you need to develop what is called a global mindset.

The ideal situation for the formation of this mindset is maximum exposure to as many types of music from an early age, some even say from the womb, in order to develop aural perception and to become accustomed to different tones and rhythms. There is a critical age in language development for acquiring the different sounds and languages, this is called the critical age hypothesis (Johnson & Newport 1989). 

We are all born with the ability to make any sound but by the age of two we only select and use the sounds we hear around us. This also applies to music- young children absorb the music around them but music not introduced to them when they are young sounds foreign to them.


A global mindset is harder to achieve at an older age when the tendency for example of Westerners is to "correct" unfamiliar intervals, usually without being aware of doing so. (Hood, 1960) At this stage students and teachers need to have an open mind to understand new and different sounds and rhythms.


From my field work, interviewing and observing teachers faced with teaching jazz or maqam to musicians unfamiliar with the genre and through my own experience, the first stage is to listen in order to gradually develop aural perception of the other style. This is important for both the styles in my research, jazz and maqam.

In the next stage many students need to understand the theory behind what they are listening to in order to intern the knowledge. For example, the teacher of Arabic ensemble in Aarhus shared theories about maqam (see example 9.1)


We now move to the next stage when the musician needs to actually play in an unfamiliar style. We need to remember that sometimes we are afraid to try something new, to move out of our comfort zone and we are afraid that we might fail. To avoid this and overcome the challenges, most teachers find it important to first sing and imitate the line before playing in order to intern the melody. This is very difficult for musicians trained in western music who have conditioned prejudice to overcome where the quarter tones sound to them as off key. Here listening, singing and repetitions can help. All the teachers I met would agree that in the early phase of training, traditional methods of imitation and rote learning are far more rewarding in both time and retention than the usage of notation. 


The next stage is interning the different rhythms. Most teachers introduce clapping exercises with the musicians to intern the rhythms and develop an imitative ear. In my work I also suggest dancing to the rhythms. Many teachers of eastern music prefer not to use music notation but just a map of who does what and when. (see 9.2). The musicians are required to learn by ear and this can be unsettling for traditional western musicians.


As we have seen becoming transcultural is a process and we can't expect musicians new to the style of music to immediately relate and intern the genre.  Musicians need to choose if they want to continue to accompany the music or take the time to engross themselves in the genre and eventually make it there own and become bi-musical.



From the point of view of a composer, when writing the score for music groups with musicians from different backgrounds orchestrators need to be able to write the score for those unfamiliar to this type of music as well as for those who can play and feel comfortable with micro tones. 


 The highest stage in both the jazz and maqam style is to be able to improvise within the style. To do this you need to reach the transcultural level, you need to be fluent in the other genres.  

During my research I began to consider if there is such a thing as pure music? Was it pure before a specific moment? Cultures and societies have always influenced one another. The possibilities of cultural change can be seen on a scale on a spectrum, but perhaps its more affective to see this process as cycles perhaps as spirals. We can see this in many societies which are influenced by another culture and then go back to traditions but with a difference incorporating other influences. For example, the Turkish empire had a large influence on the Arabic music and Cuban music had influences on jazz.


Global mindset is when we have a wider outlook, multicultural and intercultural- to know our own music culture and be open to learn the music culture of others. To understand that we all have our own variety of music cultures we are influenced by one another. We can find the meeting place and shared points between our cultures and build new music together respecting each culture to form new hybrid music. 


Another aspect that I would like to share is music as a meeting point to learn about and accept other cultures and religions. In my field trip I visited countries where my country and my religion are received in a number of negative ways. I didn't always tell people where I was from because in some countries I am seen as a threat, in others as an enemy and in some countries anti-semitism is rampant. Some are against my country and religion from a political point of view and others from a religious standpoint. 

In a number of cases, I met musicians who in a social encounter would not like me or wish to meet me because of my nationality and religion, but our meetings were different because we met though music. In the meeting through music we were able to appreciate one another, connect and form a mutual relationship and friendship. This made us understand that music goes beyond boarders. music can go beyond politics discrimination and hatred; music is a type of religion which can unite us all together in love. There is no place for hate in music: everyone is welcome no matter their colour, name, region, religion sex or age. 


 Whilst in Zanzibar in one of my classes I taught a song (that i have learned from the DCMA piano teacher Robert John) in Swahili with the words- “Nanai kama wewe bwana, mungu wewe tu”-which means: “Who loves the Lord? We do”. It is in fact a Christian gospel song. The students in my class were half Christian and half Muslims and I noticed that some of the student felt uncomfortable singing the song. When I asked them what the problem was, they told me that it’s a Christian song and that they don’t feel that they can sing it.

I explained to them that I'm also not a Christian, but in all three religions we all have the same G-d- you name him Alla, the Christians Lord and I call him Elohim and even if you don’t believe in G-d you can sing to the energy that supports you. The most important thing is the music, that unites us all in love. They accepted my explanation and sang the song with much more gusto and joy. 

photo by Devi Anna