Thursday, July 29, 2010

Professor Welch interviewed by the Guardian

Jon Boden's big singalong

Jon Boden 'I've certainly been told to shut up on occasions' … Jon Boden

A few weeks ago Jon Boden, the current BBC Folk Singer of the Year, went to a friend's home studio in Sheffield and recorded an unaccompanied version of the famous old folk song The Larks They Sang Melodious (alternatively known as Pleasant and Delightful). On Midsummer Day (24 June) he posted it on a new website he'd created and embarked on the first step of a strange and demanding odyssey, in which he vows to record and post a different folk song every day for a year.

A far cry from his more familiar role as extrovert frontman with the 11-piece folk big band Bellowhead, the Folk Song a Day concept has already attracted accusations that Boden has either lost his marbles or become a shameless self-publicist. Yet behind this novel initiative lies a serious intent, which poses profound questions about the changing role of song in society. Namely, have we lost the joy of singing for its own sake, and the social benefits of community, self-expression and identity that go with it? And, if so, can they be recovered?

Time was when locals would get together in pubs, private houses or at public gatherings, joining in song as a matter of course. Stimulated in part by many inviting anecdotes of these occasions from England's most revered traditional singers, the Copper Family, several of the early British folk revivalists of the 1960s were driven by the dream of breathing life into old folk songs and restore them to community life. These revivalists achieved much, notably a nationwide circuit of clubs, which attracted devoted enthusiasts and supported a network of professional musicians as folk music blossomed into a thriving art form. But in a fast-moving world, their original ideals were strangled by the march of television, communication and globalisation – with the inevitable decline in pub culture and community spirit itself – and some of those early performers such as Norma Waterson consequently now regard the revival as a failure.

Yet a vibrant new generation of folk musicians have imaginatively reinvigorated the genre in recent years. The title of Jim Moray's award-winning 2008 album, Low Culture, was a deliberate expression of what he felt folk music should represent. "The tradition isn't something out of the ordinary, it's the very definition of ordinary," he says. "If folk is the music of the people then it's surely wrong to treat it as 'high art' that should be preserved unchanged. Folk music is low culture."

Similar thoughts occupy Boden. He says he regards himself primarily as an unaccompanied singer, despite his membership of Bellowhead, but insists that A Folk Song a Day is a serious effort to raise the profile of social singing. He has also launched a monthly Saturday night folk club encompassing an informal singaround at his own local, the Royal Hotel in Dungworth, which is already embedded in folk music lore as one of the South Yorkshire pubs maintaining a unique local carol-singing tradition of songs exclusive to the area.

"The Dungworth carol singing is extraordinary, but it shouldn't be extraordinary," says Boden. "People who wouldn't do it in any other context go to the pub at Christmas and sing those songs properly – really, really loud. But then you get to the end of the carol season and you think, 'Why the hell don't we do this all year?'"

So he decided he would do it all year – and the Dungworth experiment seems to be working as villagers with no interest in the formal folk song movement descend on the bar to exercise their lungs on a round of populist chorus songs, such as The Larks They Sang Melodious and others that have made early appearances on Boden's site.

"I'd love to see more singing sessions in pubs – ideally unaccompanied – without the pub getting freaked out," Boden says. "The biggest challenge is to get a pub to turn the TV or jukebox off, but the chance is there to find a common cause because pubs are under so much threat. Some people feel uncomfortable – they think their space is being invaded, and if you suddenly enter a random pub and burst into song you're more likely to be thrown out than be bought a drink. I've certainly been told to shut up on occasions. You have to get people used to the idea. It's not the fault of the song, it's the fault of lack of song. People get paranoid about singing in public and I think it stems from parents telling their children they can't sing. It happens a lot. You wouldn't tell someone they have an awful talking voice or they have bad breath, but there seems to be no problem in telling someone they can't sing."

There's no shortage of scientific research to support his theory that social singing is good for body and soul. Professor Graham Welch, the chair of music education at the Institute of Education in London, declares that everyone has the ability to sing and, irrespective of quality, it enhances our mood and reduces stress. "The health benefits of singing are both physiological and psychological," he says. "Music is very good for every aspect of you as a human."

One unlikely convert to the power of social singing is Brian Eno, who hosts regular a cappella singing sessions at his London studio with friends, who have included Paul McCartney. "It's all about the immersion of the self into the community and that's one of the greatest feelings," he says. "I stop being 'me' for a little while and become 'us', and that way lies empathy, the great social virtue."

Yet the only public places you can have a good sing without risking ridicule or abuse are either churches or football grounds. Boden is an atheist who doesn't like football so he's opted instead for the pub-singing option and A Folk Song a Day podcasts. There were 6,000 hits for his opening rendition of The Larks They Sang Melodious, and interest has grown rapidly since, sparking lively debate on the comment pages, especially over his recent inclusion of Mercedes Benz, a gospel pastiche written by Janis Joplin, Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth. Joplin sang it unaccompanied, and although Boden paradoxically adds a mournful concertina, he's happy to classify it as a folk song. "I learned it as a folk song at Forest School camps before I'd ever heard the Janis Joplin version," he says, amused by the fuss its inclusion has caused. "People criticise me for doing that but don't bat an eyelid about the Kipling-Peter Bellamy songs I have done."

He's got a whole year of this and knows that tougher terrain lies ahead, especially as his repertoire extends to only 200 songs and he'll need to learn more by next spring. There are also the practical problems involved in making daily recordings during forthcoming extensive tours with both Bellowhead and his other band, the Remnant Kings. "I should have got an iPhone when I had the chance. I might have to borrow one to record stuff when we're on the road. But it's really interesting and it's nice not to have to worry about commercial pressures. Apparently I'm No 1 in the music podcast charts. I've no idea what that means but it sounds good."

Jon Boden can be heard daily on

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hellenic Journal of Music, Education and Culture: Call for papers

Dear colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that we launch the first edition of the Hellenic Journal of Music, Education and Culture. The international, on-line, peer-reviewed and open-access journal is the first of its kind to be published in Greece and has been designed to provide a unique opportunity for researchers across the world to engage with important contemporary issues at the interface of these three fields. As you will see from the opening articles, we have colleagues from diverse cultural and international settings who are reporting and discussing their research and practice. Articles are in English or Greek to reflect the origins of the journal and also to facilitate its potential impact in the symbiotic development of the research communities both within and outside Greece. We hope that you enjoy the journal contents and that you will take an opportunity to contribute in the future.

Kindest regards

Graham Welch
PhD, IoEUL Chair of Music Education,
IoE, University of London, UK
Department of Arts and Humanities, 

Anastasia Siopsi                                                                         

Associate Professor                                                                                Music Department, Ionian University, Greece


Call for papers

Notes for contributors

ISSN online version: 1792-2518

HeJMEC is an international open-access and peer reviewed journal devoted to critical studyand critical analysis of issues related to the fields of Music, Education, and Culture.

HeJMEC draws its contributions from a wide community of researchers. Its reach is international since we want the publication to reflect a wide variety of perspectives from disciplines within the fields of music education and musicology. The journal is concerned with the dissemination of ideas relating to theoretical developments in the above fields and welcomes cross - and inter- disciplinary contributions of research and literature in the areas of music, education and culture.

Music and Education: The wide range of topics includes various aspects of music education (pedagogy, history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, technology, and aesthetics) addressing vocal, instrumental, general music at all levels, from early childhood through adult and comparative studies. 

Education is interpreted in a broad sense including all aspects of teaching and learning within formal and informal contexts (such as, musical development; socio-cultural issues; creativity; gifted and talented students; special needs; community settings; teachers' professional development; curriculum design; assessment) in order, additionally, to challenge established accounts of music education policy-analytic methods and to explore alternative approaches to policy-making. 

Music and Culture: Our aim is to provide essential reading on different aspects of the study of music from a cultural point of view (ideology, music and words, music and society, music and postmodernism, music and genre, and so forth); also, to relate them with educational issues (music cultural policy, the learning process, the relationship to educational institutions, and so forth). The journal thus offers a unique forum for researchers to develop views on music as a social and cultural product, as part of human behaviour and in relation to broadly perceived educational issues at the leading edge of musical and multidisciplinary scholarship.

Every issue will include articles on the topics, case studies and book reviews. Articles in Greek or English will be accepted. We recommend that you review the About the Journal page for the journal's section policies, as well as the Author Guidelines. Authors need to register with the journal prior to submitting, or if already registered can simply log in and begin the 5 step process. For guidelines in order to submit an article please refer to:

We welcome submissions for our forthcoming issues. The deadline for submissions for our next issue is 31/10/2010.

Please see our website for more details:

Principal contact:

Maria Argyriou,,



Important Dates


October 31, 2010 – paper submission

January 31, 2010 – notifications of acceptance

March 31, 2011 - notifications / corrections from reviewers

April 31, 2010 – final texts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Call for Papers: The 7th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education

  • Symposium Dates: June 19-22, 2011
  • Location: Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  • Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2010

The International Symposia on the Sociology of Music Education have been a primary conduit for the dissemination and discussion of scholarship on sociological issues related to music education since the first symposium in 1995.

The 2011 conference organizers invite the submission of proposals for papers on aspects of practice, theory, philosophy and research in the sociology of music education. "Sociology" refers to behaviors, beliefs, and identities among groups of people. "Music education" is understood to include all forms of teaching and learning in music – formal, informal, and non-formal.

The symposium welcomes research into music education in schools, colleges, universities, communities, studios, homes, the internet, and any other contexts. Submissions are encouraged from researchers at all stages of their careers. Research from qualitative, quantitative, mixed-method, or philosophical approaches are welcome. Submissions focusing on music from outside of Euro-American traditions are especially encouraged.

Conference presentations will be 30 minutes in length. Proposals should contain 500 to 700 words and should provide reviewers with sufficient detail to judge the purpose, methods, results, and scholarship of the presentation. Send proposals as .doc or .pdf attachments. Do not include your name or any identifying information on the attached proposal. The deadline for proposals is November 1, 2010, and notification of acceptance will be sent by December 1, 2010. Please send proposals and any direct any questions you may have to one of the three regional conference organizers, in accordance with your location.

  • John Kratus – United States, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean:
  • Gareth Smith – Europe and Africa:
  • Kari Veblen – Canada, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific:

The conference will be held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, which is located on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. The Lansing metropolitan area is served by the Lansing Capital City Airport (LAN). Accommodations: Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, 55 S. Harrison Road at Harrison Road and Grand River Ave., ( (800) 875-5090 (local phone: (517) 432-4000), $89 single/double. Free parking is available to conference attendees. For further information regarding accommodations, contact John Kratus,

The conference website will be available in October 2010.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wits University vacancies



Wits Music is distinctive in being the only university music department in Africa to be part of a School of Arts that includes television and film, drama, digital arts, fine arts, and arts, culture and heritage studies divisions: The School is seeking to make two appointments from 1 January 2011 in the following areas, and we strongly encourage applicants from the designated groups.


The incumbent's primary areas of research and teaching experience should be in popular music and jazz, though ideally their experience and interests will be broad enough to encompass other areas. Duties: Teach undergraduate courses in Western and African popular music and jazz, as well as in other areas, and supervise graduate students. In addition, the incumbent will be expected to contribute to cross-disciplinary teaching in the School. Part of his/her teaching and research should be focused on Africa. S/he will be expected to play a role in the administration of the Music Division and the School.


Duties: Develop, teach and coordinate a new area of specialisation in the BMus degree in the field of community music, and teach in the area of music education. It is recommended that the incumbent will be able to teach in other fields, particularly in the area of performance or music history. Part of his/her teaching and research should be focused on Africa. S/he will be expected to play a role in the administration of the Music Division and the School. Qualifications and Experience: Preferably a PhD, or MA with professional registration and progress towards a PhD. Some university teaching experience; an established research record or demonstrable potential as a researcher; and working experience in community music contexts for Lecturer in Community Music.


Head of Music, Dr Grant Olwage (, or the Head of School, Professor Georges Pfruender (

To apply:

Submit a letter of motivation and detailed curriculum vitae with names and e-mail addresses of three academic referees as well as certified copies of degrees/diplomas, supporting documentation and identity document to: Mrs Margaret Deyi (, Humanities Human Resources Office, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa.

Closing date:

31 July 2010.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Afghanistan National Institute of Music Inaugurated

NEW MUSIC COLLEGE INAUGURATED IN AFGHANISTAN Kabul—On Sunday, June 20, 2010, at its idyllic, grassy campus in the Dehbori neighbourhood of Kabul, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) was formally inaugurated in front of an audience of dignitaries including Ambassadors, officials from the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and community leaders. The inauguration represented the culmination of several years of planning and hard work overcoming the obstacles that are the legacy of thirty years' of war and the Taliban's prohibition of music. The inauguration began with a recitation from the Holy Quran. After this, the newly established Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO), comprised of ANIM students and faculty, performed a new arrangement of the National Anthem of Afghanistan. This arrangement was the first ever to use both Afghan and Western instruments. The orchestra then played a new arrangement of the patriotic song "Da Watan," first created half a century ago by the renowned Afghan singer-songwriter Ustad Guzalman, who also sang it with AYO at the inauguration. Dignitaries including the Deputy Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, H.E. Sarwar Azizi; Richard Hogg, a representative of the World Bank; the Ambassador of Germany; the Deputy Ambassador of India; and the Director of the Goethe Institute-Kabul gave speeches in which they praised this historic initiative to revive the musical culture of Afghanistan. The acknowledgment speech of Dr Sarmast reminded everyone present of the timeless and selfless reasons for which so many people have committed so much energy and support for so long. Following the speeches, ANIM faculty Ustad Irfan Khan (sarod), Ustad Gholam Hossein (rubab), Jawid Mahmood (tabla), and William Harvey (violin) performed solos, after which ANIM Percussion Teacher Norma Ferreira led her students in an ensemble work. A student group performed an Afghan song in rock-and-roll style, after which Ustad Fareed Shefta, ANIM's Clarinet Teacher, led AYO in his own arrangement of the patriotic song "Dareen Watan." A group from Khoshhal Khan High School performed the Atan, the national dance. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the dignitaries received a tour of ANIM's new facilities. Dr. Ahmad Sarmast founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) to revive the culture of music in Afghanistan and to build the ruined lives of street working kids and orphans through music education. ANIM is a joint project of the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Monash Asia Institute of Monash University, Australia. It has received major funding from the World Bank, Goethe Institute, Society of Music Merchants, government of India, German Foreign Office and other organizations. For more information, contact Dr. Ahmad Sarmast at or +93 (0) 796-542-952. Regards -- Dr Ahmad Naser Sarmast Music Consultant and Project Director Ministry of Education Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Research Fellow Monash Asia Institute Monash School of Music - Conservatorium Monash University, Australia Honorary Fellow National College of Music, London Tel: +93 (0) 796 54 29 52 + 613 9905 4992 Email: