Ep. 2 Singing songs of mattering, caring, and altruism: Lived experiences within choral contexts with Dr. Elizabeth Parker
Much of Dr. Elizabeth Parker's work has sought to listen to the lived experiences of students and teachers within choral environments. Parker writes of how structures and intentions have an impact upon mattering and the development of healthy identities and caring communities. I join Elizabeth Parker to have a conversation about the intersections of her research into identity and belonging within choral contexts. **Special thanks to Dr. Anne Gross, the Fenice choir, for providing a recording of El Noi de la Mare, a Catalan carol arr. Anne Gross for use in this podcast episode.**
Dr. Elizabeth Parker
Dr. Elizabeth Parker’s research focuses on the social development of adolescent choral singers as well as identity of preservice and inservice music educators. She has taught within P-12 school and community spaces in New York, Nebraska, and Georgia, specializing in the vocal development of young people through general and choral contexts. Within the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University, Dr. Parker instructs undergraduate and graduate students in diverse coursework including general music, research methods, inclusive vocal development, and sociology of music education. She has published extensively in national and international journals, including the Journal of Research in Music Educaion, International Journal of Music Education, The choral Journal, and the Jounral of Music Teacher Education. As an active children’s choral conductor and clinician, Dr. Parker leads the Troubadours, one of four ensembles within the Pennsylvania Girlchoir.
Parker, E. (2010). Exploring student experiences of belonging within an urban high school choral ensemble: An action research study. Music Education Research, 12(4), 339-352. doi: 10.1080/14613808.2010.519379
Parker, E. (2011). The tale of one children’s choir educator within a not-for-profit agency. Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, 10(1), 69-77. Retrieved from
Parker, E. C. (2011). Uncovering adolescent choral singers’ philosophical beliefs about music-making: A qualitative inquiry. International Journal of Music Education, 29(4), 305-317. doi:10.1177/0255761411421092
Parker, E. C. (2016). The experience of creating community: An intrinsic case study of four midwestern public school choral teachers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 64(2), 220-237. doi: 10.1177/0022429416648292
Parker, E. C. (2017). A Phenomenology of One Southeastern African American Church Choir. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 212, 57-74.
Parker, E. C. (2018). A Grounded Theory of Adolescent High School Women’s Choir Singers’ Process of Social Identity Development. Journal of Research in Music Education, 65(4), 439-460.
Speaker 1: 00:00 [inaudible].
Speaker 2: 00:02 Yeah. I think that because teachers give like that's there. That is the teacher's life is to be a giver. If one is, if one is giving kind of in that, in that one caring capacity and that is, that's likely going to be something that you engender in other people, which is awesome. Like that's, that's that to me is, I mean that's the reason to be a teacher and the reason to keep doing it is to know that
Speaker 3: 00:27 you are listening to the music and peacebuilding podcast, professional development network at musicpeacebuilding.com exploring intersections of peacebuilding and culture, sacredness relationship, community, creativity and imagination through research and story. Dr. Elizabeth Parker's research focuses on the social development of adolescent choral singers as well as identities of pre service and in service music educators. She has taught within p 12 schools and community spaces in New York and Nebraska and Georgia, specializing in the vocal development of young people through general and choral contexts. Within the Boyer College of Music and dance at Temple University, Dr. Parker instructs undergraduate and graduate students in diverse coursework including general music research methods, inclusive vocal development and sociology of music education. She has published extensively in national and international journals including the Journal of research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, the Choral Journal, and the Journal of Music teacher education. As an active children's choral conductor and clinician Dr. Parker leads the troubadours one of four ensembles within the Pennsylvania girl choir.
Speaker 3: 01:52 I interviewed Dr. Parker because I have long admired her research for her insights into belonging, identity, caring communities and choral classrooms and also for the way she does her research, taking the role of a listener as she empowers diverse voices. Through intentional listening. I first encountered her research studies when she explored and asked music students about why they do music. Essentially asking students about their lived philosophies of music education. Her most recent work has explored lived experience in choral classrooms. Examining how singing is embodied, how our shared musical experiences might build our healthy selves and how we might all become better at building each other up through inclusive community. And the empowerment of voice.
Speaker 4: 02:47 So if I was to ask you about mattering. I think there's, there's one quote in, in your, in your study where where you say women's choir participants in this inquiry experienced a unique space where they were positively singled out, they felt a sense of mattering to their choir and to one another because they held membership in a group that was perceived as important to the overall choral community. Could you, for a practitioner audience, could you talk about this sense of mattering and what stood out to you about it and maybe what, what it means to matter in a women's choir?
Speaker 5: 03:18 Yeah, that's a great quote. Thank you for sharing that. Absolutely. Yeah, that's kind of a nice sentence. There's a thank you, but I, you know, we, we look at groups as being homogenous and I did, there is a, there is a danger in groups. of becoming homogenous and having kind of a of a dominant narrative that's about that becomes a limiting to the members within the groups. I mean there's, there's definitely that potential for communities to limit the individual voices. But the, but the participants in this study indicated that they, within these groups that they felt their unique voice contributed to the overall result. And because of that they felt, um, that their, you know, kind of their contribution mattered and they mattered. And, uh, and that they had a more of a place in the overall school environment because, because they gave in this unique way to this body of, of girls, young women that then, uh, were part of kind of a larger collective voice in the school.
Speaker 5: 04:29 And, and so it's, it's, I work with, I work with women's choirs now. I work with the Pennsylvania girl choir, as you said earlier. And, uh, I think about this a lot because I do, I do what are the kind of findings or things that came up for just one of the choirs that was involved in that study was this idea that we still live in a very male dominated voice kind of society. And we like let's like one girl. Like let's face it, we live in a chauvinistic society that, you know, and she goes really out there with this idea, like sexism is rampant and, and this is a space where, uh, where I can not just learn among my peers and feel free to express myself however I'm going to express myself. But that I also feel like we get each other and they, they get me and I get them and then we can move forward, um, in the sense of being important to each other.
Speaker 5: 05:23 And then I maybe as a voice outside of this context will be more willing to speak up and to, to kind of use, use my voice for something in a, in a space that's not as safe. And so for practitioners, to me that's, that's really an interesting, um, I think it's maybe a dilemma in, in where we are now because, uh, this idea of gender identification is, is so important that, that, that individuals are able to identify themselves where they feel most comfortable. And at the same time, I think that for, for practitioners, we're really working to create spaces, um, that foster empowered voices for women. And so there's, there's a tendency of kind of trying to, you know, figure out that dance like with, with especially a choral music with, with um, outfits or, you know, attire with, um, with voicings of choirs or what do we call ourselves?
Speaker 5: 06:19 Or how do we negotiate these dilemmas? I think that it is, it can be about empowerment. It can be about upper voices, doesn't have to be about women's voices, but that, but that we acknowledged that women's voices are, are, are critical to, to work together and in some way and find, find ways where that doesn't exclude. Um, those who may be more in nonbinary or may be a gender, or, or for whatever reason. So we find spaces to include everybody at the same time as empowering. Those that still feel, like I said, like we live in a chauvinistic society, you know, still still find space for that, for those conversations to happen.
Speaker 3: 06:58 Yeah. I wondered a lot about that as a, as I was reading about it, about how,
Speaker 4: 07:03 how, how, how a name change for maybe like a women's choir to treble choir may change the concept of, of like really focused discussions on what it means to be a woman or what it means to be empowered as a woman and how we retain the best of that while also achieving the best of being open and inclusive. It's a really interesting question.
Speaker 5: 07:23 Yeah. I think choral music, choral music practitioners are really working, working on that actively and I, I think maybe the, some of the strategies or responses I've heard is really finding a name that is not necessarily descriptive of the voice that's involved, but more of that kind of character of the group. So finding, finding what the students really want this group to be about, locating with them a label that lifts that up,
Speaker 3: 08:02 I put kind of that work of reclaiming the self side by side. I think what, what really stood out to me at the end of your study on women's choirs, was your relationship back to literature that seems to say, you know, as girls move into adolescence they seem to adopt whatever the stereotyped identity is. Um, and that maybe choir. Maybe a balanced mission of choir on one hand is to develop the most beautiful musical product that's, you know, the core of music education. But the other one is to form this counter narrative against the stereotyped identity of, of women and girls.
Speaker 5: 08:38 Yeah. I think that there's so much that music can, music education can, can represent for sure, uh, young people and that space of maybe liberation or openness to differences. It very powerful that we can, we can infuse and music education if we, if we choose to and uh, for a long time women's choirs were playing kind of second fiddle. I think too, the idea of a mixed or a men's or whatever kind of ensembles that were, uh, and I don't, I think that may have been just endemic of the kind of time, but, but the, the more that we have worked to publish and kind of hear, um, more marginalized voices, I think more of that music is being, is out there for girls to sing and can represent possible spaces for yeah, that, that, that moment, especially that moment and adolescents when a girl can choose to kind of become just part part of what she sees or she can, she can start to say, oh, look at all these possibilities and, and stay open to that. And that's definitely some of the work also I've chosen to do in the community choir that I'm involved in is to, um, to, through repertoire planning to really expand what's kind of, what, what women composers do and what women singers do and what women conductors do. And just to really demonstrate the possibility, uh, so that we have more people entering fields. And um... Representing, you know, uh, for future generations as well.
Speaker 3: 10:18 So I'm really interested in a paradox that I think I find in your study of an African American Gospel Choir and your 2018 study. And it's this paradox that in so many studies it seems like a central phenomenon is that choir members sense kind of a sense of oneness or achieving one voice when they sing it,
Speaker 4: 10:40 which is kind of a loss of self as you merge into the whole. But then the other thing that you find is that once you achieve this sense of oneness that it seems to allow girls, it seems to allow members of an African American choir to maybe find or reclaim their own individuality and voice. And I think it's such a fascinating paradox that maybe you have to lose the self to gain the self. And I was just wondering if you also kind of noticed this phenomenon and what were the experiences that kind of made this stand out for you?
Speaker 5: 11:12 Mm, that's a hard question. That's a good hard question. Yeah, I think that's partly why I've been so interested in studying choral music is, uh, there's so much uniformity that exists. And there's so much desire to, to make and sound be the same, yet there seems to be so much individually going on that it's not at all that that's not the result, you know, as much as that might look or sound like the result, that's actually not, not the result. And My, my challenge has been more like along the, um, the, the, the, the study about the choir teachers with community been really trying to figure out how to address and be with the individual among the group, uh, in kind of large ensemble settings. But I, I mean there is, there is a paradox a, I don't know if it's a paradox as much as I feel like it's a, maybe like a dialectic, you know, that idea that we are, that we kind of hold these things in tension with each other.
Speaker 5: 12:18 We hold the self with the group intention and then because of that there's more, there's more benefit that comes for both. Like the group is able to grow in the self, was able to grow. As long as we don't let one go for the other, um, I feel like they both can kind of chug along like a, like a train and, and to be in, you know, just, just like life balance is sometimes in one direction or another. At some point you're giving a bit more or you're feeling a bit more like you're growing as an individual, whereas another time do you feel like you're giving more to the group and experiencing more kind of a service, if you will, to, to a group goal? I think that if you hold them together, uh, uh, you know, just just keep them together that, that they will mutually kind of work themselves out.
Speaker 5: 13:06 But never one really ah more dominant than the other. Uh, it's because, because I think they are mutually dependent too, right? So the idea that like the selves are growing has to be part of the group growth. If the group, if selves are not growing within the group and the group's not going anywhere. So you have to have is they're almost like nested in a way, maybe nested or, and I don't know how to conceptualize the idea. Yeah. But, uh, but to me the issue is, um, in vocal identities specifically is like how much are we, are we able to be ourselves in a group and express our voice, metaphorical and musical voice within this collective? Like if you keep having a teacher or somebody tell you like, stop, don't sing like that or whatever, um, then you're unable to kind of use your, you know, to build your identity.
Speaker 5: 14:00 And that's, that's so powerful in that in the church study that I did is this, I mean, this notion of like having so much oppression and yet like a space where you can, where you're valued and you just sing the depth of your soul and your people. I mean, it's just like, it just knocks you flat on your face is so strong, so strong. And so, uh, I think in that case, that particular study, the individual voices are really unrestrained. Like they're in that context thing and contexts. They're just, you're singing to the glory of God. So you are just, you are just singing. And that is, um, that is not mediated by necessarily like the notion of a group sound or like a vowel kind of, you know, shift or something. It's like really in the service of something else. And because of that, I feel like there's more alignment between self and group, uh, because it's about something else, you know, it's really about about a larger purpose and whereas a lot of choral music out in institutional settings is about the choral music itself or about the, about the, um, the refinement of that style or whatever.
Speaker 5: 15:20 Uh, and so I think there's more potential to have that paradox in that, in that setting, an institutional like setting as opposed to like in a church setting where it's really about, I mean, everyone's really clear on what, what their purpose is, you know, their purposes is to, you know, to glorify. And because of that it's, it's um, maybe there, maybe the self does, I guess take a secondary role. But I think that there's so much alignment between the self and spirituality at that point. It's really, it's not really distinguishable
Speaker 3: 15:53 in here. 2017 study Parker explored spiritually relevant pedagogy. She states one aim of spiritually relevant pedagogy is to engage in collective discourse, to model caring and to use knowledge to heal the world. Spiritualities may be defined in diverse ways and express themselves in multiple forms. In this study, participants were embraced and accepted for their process of becoming. Educators who teach from a spiritual paradigm also help students investigate life's complexities within the world and their positions within those challenges. Educators encourage students to use their voices to challenge and foster others' voices towards strong self identity. So if we move back to your, to your study of four Midwestern public school choral teachers, and I'm interested in
Speaker 4: 16:53 this from peacebuilding because you talk a lot about the development of caring communities. Um, and so I'm really, well actually there's, there's a quote you have in the very end, which would you say teachers may then create a space where caring conditions can flourish and you see cite Nel Noddings and model an important human kindness that students replicate in and out of music contexts. Can you talk about the, like where, where, and how do caring conditions flourish within music programs?
Speaker 5: 17:22 There's a few opportunities that teachers have that music educators specifically have that not all teachers have, which is that for the most part, music educators work with children and adolescents from more than two or so years. Like there's, there's, there's caring, there's caring relationships that can be built because we have more longevity with a lot of our students. And that, that's, uh, that opens the door to possibility for caring conditions because you just have done an extended time. But, uh, I think it's a, as far as creating caring conditions, I, that's a lot about, uh, about how a teacher models that idea of being that one caring and that the student is the cared for. So this in music, um, this means constructing a curriculum that reflects the students' voices, I think is, is one way to create a caring condition and to pay attention and build awareness of what students value and what they find important.
Speaker 5: 18:31 Uh, and, and if we're able to listen and continue, uh, building curriculum around what the students, uh, kind of what, not just what they want to do, but also what they value. That I think that's, that helps because that's the content and, and a lot of, you know, if people are talking about musical skills and how we build those, I think those are all very important. But those can be done within those caring conditions. That's that, you know, so it's about the, it's about the content that, that the teacher and the students can construct together. And then those, to me, those skills just kind of come along because that's part of what is valued. Um, you know, along with, but a lot of times it's the, it's the, it's the way I think that teachers just respond in the moment to students and their needs.
Speaker 5: 19:22 And, um, for example, um, a study that I'm currently working on, ah working on some data analysis for which, uh, with Dr Bridget Sweet from the University of Illinois, we're looking at inclusive choirs for students with disabilities. And there's a teacher that we've studied and, uh, she has this way of, of acknowledging every child in the room, uh, in one rehearsal and it's either through or eye contact or, or, um, nonverbal, you know, smiling or nodding or something like that. Um, and then, so that's just One thing is kind of acknowledging every being and that that creates this kind of condition that we all acknowledge who's there and the room. But then also she has some, some basic kind of policies. And one would be that if, uh, if somebody is talking in the room, everyone pays full attention to that person by turning toward that person, like physically turning and looking at them and hearing all of what they have to say.
Speaker 5: 20:24 And then moving on from there. So I started establishing those kinds of, um, what I would consider carrying conditions in my own teaching, whether it's collegiate or P to 12 teaching, where when somebody speaks, we all stop and we all turned and we all, we all know note that that person has spoken and then somebody might respond or whatever, but, but that there's nothing else. There's nothing else more important going on at that and there cannot be anything. And that is really helped to establish the, the uh, Kinda the, the caring, the one, the one caring and the caring for I would say in that moment. Uh, and, and so there's things like that. I mean, they seem, that seems tiny, but it's actually kind of hard to get 43. In my case, I work with fifth through seventh graders. It's kind of hard to get like 43 fifth or seventh graders to all stop and turn and look and here and then go back to whatever, you know, and then we move on to whatever we're practicing.
Speaker 5: 21:18 But it is very significant when it becomes them. You kind of the ground, the ground rule or the, you know, the guideline and what we do. And um, so that's, that's an example I guess of of creating a caring condition. And then there's just other other things too. Like currently I'm working on a book project and one thing I'm encouraging folks to do is to, um, is to build in their own students. This idea that we take care of each other, meaning that students need to check in with each other during class, not just check in with the teacher, the teacher checks in with them like that we can build awareness in our own students to look around the room and just kind of acknowledge each other throughout class and look, you know, to kind of take a glance and like see how that person seems to be doing today and that they should, we should build that. We should educate our own students into doing that with each other during each class period. Like have you looked at everybody, have you acknowledged, you know, or have you said hello or whatever it is. Just so we all are aware of who is in the room and what they are, um, kind of what they're experiencing. Not that we can understand that fully, but, but to me, those are some of the basic of caring conditions that,
Speaker 4: 22:31 and that's in many ways kind of the wisdom of the church choir that you studied, the, you know, the, the, the way that the gentlemen or the director's stood at the door and greeted people as they came in and then the way that they seem to have these long, deep relationships with each other.
Speaker 5: 22:46 Yeah, absolutely. And that the care that they took care of, that, the idea that someone might, you know, that you just have to make space for people sometimes, you know, a child or a singer has to be going for a some time. Sometimes they're bringing their extended, you know, infants and toddlers and whoever's on, like, that's, that's, that's cool. Like we're part of a larger, a larger life and that, that matters. And I think if you, yeah, if you can create space for those things and it definitely makes those flourishing conditions
Speaker 6: 23:22 possible. [Choir singing]
Speaker 4: 24:18 and one of the barriers that I think that you've named in numerous studies has been this idea of competition maybe is a barrier to either a caring community or competition as, as, as a barrier to identity development. Um, and I was curious if you could kind of explain when competition maybe is okay and a good thing and then when competition seems to really be a sense of destructiveness within choral environments.
Speaker 5: 24:46 Yeah, I think, you know, it's, I've, I've heard from um, colleagues after giving presentations like, well, isn't this just the nature of human, humanity? Like we, not everybody, you know, there's only so many resources, you know, supply and demand kind of conversation. And while I understand that, and I go to this next level, well, if the majority of a social group is moving to a different ensemble, and then there's a few students that don't seem to be displaying the skills that are required, you're, you're, you're, you have the potential to really hurt a child's soul. I think there's really some kind of major damage that can be done by keeping a child sort of, it reminds me in some ways of, uh, from what I remember as a child of like holding a child back into a grade that, you know, they made it maybe needed to repeat.
Speaker 5: 25:35 Like, I, I could see why that was beneficial for that child, but at the same time, socially that was devastating. Um, for this one person I'm thinking about. So it's very tough. It's very tough. I don't, Eh, for teachers to navigate these things. I'm not suggesting it's an easy decision, but I do think there's some soul work we think we should think about. Um, in addition to skill work. Uh, and when we see, when we see children moving in and kind of being tracked in different ways that we have to acknowledge that, that that can hurt. Uh, and that can be part of kind of how they view themselves and, and, and, um, move into a space where they feel less, less efficacious or less competent to be able to sing or be able to, whatever the skill is that right.
Speaker 3: 26:23 Dr. Parker spoke of the problems of overly selective programs and ability tracking that may start as early as elementary school. She asked if we can ethically develop the creation of labels and identities when voices are so young and developing, how can we build and empower stronger musical capacities.
Speaker 5: 26:46 And so what one thing I've been working on is kind of studying, trying to locate in studying programs that are not selective based on um, audition and NC, what those programs look like. And uh, that's been an interesting, it would, what I, what I'm working right now with Dr Marcy Major from Westchester about, um, nonhierarchical choral program and what we have found it seems is that the teenagers and the adolescents in the program seemed to create the hierarchies anyway. So kind of going back to that individual and you know, who said like "supply and demand. Like there's always, it's the human condition." It's the way it's going to be. I mean, I think that there's so much socialized in us that creates this better than, or worse than, or, um, um, that the kind of, it happened, it's going to happen in many programs anyhow, but, uh, but you can approach it with intention to yeah,
Speaker 5: 27:38 push back against it. Yeah. I think you can. And I think there's a lot of ways, um, the, the competition, uh, the things that I have, I have noticed about particularly painful experiences have been things like where the, where an educator says that a child's voice is a certain way. Like, your voice is too this, or your voice is too, that are your voices too this. And that is a very personal experience for a child to hear it. Therefore, it's actually like hearing like, you're too nice or you're too mean, or you're, you know, it's very, it's, it's a huge qualifier about somebody to say your voice is too big or your tone doesn't fit in with this group or something like that. Um, as opposed to making it kind of more about the skill, whatever the skill is. Like, let's work more on building resonance that that is, um, you know, a little bit more focused or something like that.
Speaker 5: 28:30 There's a different kind of conversation that can be had with, with a child that's be a, you know, exhibiting some challenges. And I think we just need to make it kind of, just like you do with behavior with children. You don't tell the kid they're bad, you tell the, you know, you put it on what their action was. It similar with singing or any form to me of music making. It's like what were, you know, what the kinds of things we're looking to build or these types of skills. And so we're going to work together on building those. To me that's the, we can still hold the line of whatever that line might be, but we have to make it more about the skill and about the kind of the getting there as opposed to the child and like with the child brings, uh, because there's still a lot of messages being sent about, you're too flat. You're too, this you're too that you're too this, you know, and uh, that really does break the spirit of a young person.
Speaker 4: 29:22 I think my next to last question is, is, is, is asking a little bit about on a sense of giving this or altruism and I feel like at the ends of your studies you start to play with the idea that maybe a goal of music per or, or maybe one of many goals of music programs is to craft empowered and connected and identities and that these identities seem to empower a sense of givingness like, like in, in the, in the African American choir study you talk about situating self stories in a larger web of relations with others that formed community. And I think in the most recent study you say that the finding of envisioning myself may act protectively and help women's choir participants experience greater value in the world, inciting leadership development and potential future service within their communities. So I'm just interested about how you sense that when identities are healthy, they seem to set up conditions for givingness and connectedness. And how did you come to this understanding or realization?
Speaker 5: 30:27 Maybe it's cause I'm really like to see that idea. I mean I think about it you, but it's, your questions are so great not only are your questions great. But I feel like you have taken the work. I've done it like put it into this really lovely picture, which is something I haven't connected except that I tend to write about these things all the time. I should see the themes, but I like I just keep writing about it because I really, again, like another, another one of my missions is to, is to, if the conditions are such that I try all that builds a strong self identity through expression, which is essentially what we're talking about, right? So they learn, they learn that they have something of value to share and they're able to express it and you had to work through the WHO I am, questions. Then they are able to be with other people, which spurs kind of being with the world.
Speaker 5: 31:24 And, um, I mean it's kind of like a, it's a little bit like, uh, you know, Edith and Victor Turner kind of communitas idea that I brought in, in that community study. But like, if we are able to be, to understand ourselves and, and to, and we do that through relationships with other people that were able to really very effectively be with others. And that is what creates collective, um, change that we're able to kind of join together and, and envision, uh, something for ourselves that is more, is more collective than individual. And so I suppose I see that as a way to maybe ameliorate some of the things that, you know, we all experience in our society. Like if we can, if we can learn self expression in a way that brings us to our own personal fullness with others, the why, you know, why, how, how could we be separate after that?
Speaker 5: 32:25 Like, it's just not possible. And then we, and then, then, then you take on kind of the bigger questions in the bigger challenges with other people. Um, there's, there's, um, and it's, it's interesting that you ask question because the church, one of the questions I had for the, the adolescents that I'm studying in this book project was, you know, how do you, like, what is your plan for the short term future and what's your plan for the long term? And they all, they all talked about taking care of either their families, um, it long term wise, taking care of their families, um, and then giving back to their communities. Like that was really a big, a big, uh, a big theme. And, and they did that through career choices. Like I want to be, um, one, one of, one of the participants wants to be a pediatric oncologist, uh, to work with children with cancer.
Speaker 5: 33:20 And somebody else wants to go back and work in the same community music center that gifted the music to him. And I mean, it's just like very powerful to hear what the change that adolescents want to make in the world is. I think that's a natural outgrowth in some ways of being given to... Is that you want to then um, give back. Uh, so yeah, that is something that I feel like is kind of and maybe its just a natural cycle of, of uh, cause everything I seem to see is cyclical. So this idea that like that's where we come back around in order to give. Then when we give we you, we learned more about ourselves and with other people and they kind of just keeps coming back.
Speaker 4: 34:04 It's a really interesting and very practical take away from your work is that, so as a music teacher. I realized that I can't force a person to take on the disposition of being a giving human being, but yet I do have the capacity to, to build up identities and social structures that maybe create that environment, so that I feel like that gives me a, a, a different sense of agency as a teacher. That's really fascinating.
Speaker 5: 34:29 Yeah. Well that, that the modeling, I think that because teachers give like that's there, that is the teacher's life is to be a giver. And so by doing so in a, in a way that connects with students, I mean that's to me a natural outgrowth if, if, if one is, if one is giving kind of in that, in that one caring capacity and that is, that's likely going to be, um, something that you engender gender in other people, which is awesome. Like that's, that's that to me is, I mean that's the reason to be a teacher and the reason to keep doing it, you know, is to know that that's, that's happening among your students. Even if you don't see it.
Speaker 6: 35:18 [choir sings]
Speaker 5: 35:18 Now one thing lately I've been toying with is this notion that in order to be resilient, you really need to understand your own vulnerability and, uh, to, to fail and, and to fail well, if you will, you know, to take, to take a failure and to understand that, that you can then make that actionable and move from there rather than, um, I guess, I don't know, giving up or choosing not to do that thing anymore, whatever, but to, to learn how to fail and to understand that when you fail, it's very vulnerable. And it's, and to kind of embrace that aspect of oneself and to work with children on embracing their own vulnerability, um, and then kind of getting up from there and moving from there into the next step and creating kind of action plans with, with children and with adolescents about their failure. So I fear sometimes that we've gotten to a place where we don't encourage students to do things.
Speaker 5: 36:18 They might feel that because we, we know they're going to fail. So it's like, don't do that, you know, or we keep them from experiencing that, uh, in order to protect them. In some ways, this is kind of a parenting comment as well as a teacher comment, but I think we need to, as educators and his parents to really be in a mindset where we can, you know, we really need to prepare the students as best we can, but we also prepare them. Um, but we also work with them afterwards and we thought we'd kind of encourage a healthy sense of failure, um, that can build kind of more, more resilience through, through the process of vulnerability. And that that's, that's one way to create, um, caring conditions and also to, to deal with competition and, you know, kind of all the things I've been trying to work through.
Speaker 4: 37:05 It's really interesting in the peacebuilding literature right now, like for the United States Institute of peace, they're taking that idea and really enlarging it too. So they're giving fragility measures now to entire countries or entire communities and, and you know, saying that, you know, if a community encounters x stress are, they, do they have systems that are strong enough to be able to encounter that kind of stress and ride through it and looking at the systems within communities that allow a community to be vulnerable, to encounter stress and to, you know, to come through it. And it's, it's really interesting to watch that model kind of be scaled up and scaled down to different levels,
Speaker 3: 37:50 citing Gilligan, Parker rights of the importance of women's choirs in building narratives and counter narratives of what it means to be a woman. She writes puberty and movement toward adulthood involve a suppression of oneself in favor of stereotypes or a priority on others rather than oneself. Women's choirs represent a counter-narrative, a space where participants could focus on the intersection between competence and connection and where individuals express that they felt more fully themselves. Rather than experiencing a loss of voice, participation in women's choirs may help young women locate their unique selves and begin to grow in confidence. As I read good night stories for rebel girls with my seven year old daughter, this is my hope that she might find musical pathways, that build her sense of voice, confidence mattering, and ultimately compassionate living.
Speaker 2: 38:55 Okay.
Speaker 3: 38:58 This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson at Elizabethtown College. We host a master of music education with an emphasis in peacebuilding, thinking deeply. We reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at musicpeacebuilding.com
Speaker 2: 39:19 [inaudible].