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Educator | Performer | Clinician | Composer

Fire up a different kind of band through Multicultural Music !


I have been very blessed with some truly unique experiences in the arts.  Being hungry – more like starving on tour with Drum Corps, Confused  by and loving the WGI activity , Practicing a triangle part for 12 hours for Orchestra, and 6 Hours of rehearsal playing an African Drum until my hands bleed!  Most of these  – NO all of these experiences have completely shaped the person that I am today and my perspective on creativity.  This is why I get extremely excited to tell people about creativity!

  • Multicultural Music and Arts.  Multiculturalism and diversity have become BUZZ words in all things over the past 7-10 years.  But what do they mean? What is the PURPOSE?

The Blurry-ness

I run into a lot of misconceptions about what “world music” is and how to define “multicultural music and arts.”   Some people feel that you can say you are providing a multicultural education experience simply by throwing in a video with someone playing a Djembe Drum.  Another example I see often is studying a form of music from another culture for a day, maybe playing a recording, or far too often I see someone write a grant for thousands of dollars to bring a guest artist in for one day.  It is important to encourage people to provide authentic experiences and provide authenticity in all things which starts with researching instruments, culture,  and speaking to people that are from the culture or that are highly knowledgeable. 


NOW Don’t get me wrong!

The things I mentioned above are still a commendable attempt to provide unique and individualistic opportunities to students that they might not get. I DO COMMEND these efforts when I see them in action. In fact, without sounding like a hypocrite, I have to say that I would gladly (and I do) look forward to spending a day or two with programs to share my experiences and provide the cliff notes or cram as much in as I can in to get them excited, hungry, and most importantly interested in learning more.  This is when I provide more resources or suggestions like summer workshops, travel, other amazing teachers and guest artists that I know or know more than I do!    CLICK—->  Here   –   Another    – Another    (too name a few).


So why amp up our efforts?

The capital T – truth is that programs can only provide opportunities based on the resources that they have right?  I mean I see things like new music stands, the latest and greatest Marching Drums, and Orff instruments purchased all the time.  I also see an occasional Djembe from Pier one imports which makes a GREAT coffee table but falls short in so many ways 🙁

World music instruments like African drums, a Steel Band, and a Brazilian ensemble are AWESOME and can truly bring diversity to your program and get your students excited about music……..  ready for the big  (IF)

  • ” IF ” we use them with purpose and make smart choices.  


A Different perspective


  • OK – look at getting a steel band ensemble like a CEO of a company would.  A CEO will ask ” What is my return on my investment?”

INVESTMENT– in most cases if you purchase quality instruments they will not be cheap.   Here is a new perspective on some of the things you get as a return for your investment:

  1. You will be bringing a different group of students (clientele) into your teaching area.   This group of students may have NEVER had a reason to step into your band room or studio before and may have NEVER thought about joining your program.  But now, that clientele or  group of “patrons”  are feeling the energy through the arts with a new product not just the same branding that has been used decades ago….. sorry Marching band I promise I will root for you in just a second.
  2. After meeting new students and building a unique community students are drawn to the power of music and the arts!
  3. Most importantly, community builds relationships and relationships will always show a return of growth. 


Now as I stress Community and relationships, I also must point out the tangible perspectives as well.

  • Having an ensemble that can earn money for your program. Steel bands may make $500 for a gig but when is the last time the marching band got paid for a parade or the WGI gig you invest 2/3 ‘s of your budget on made you money? Just saying. 
  • Teachers work loads are heavily dependent on student enrollment right? Well it is nice to see numbers go up and music communities GROWING!
  • Marketing a unique program with unique ensembles in addition to the standard ensembles is product augmentation which is a plus.
  • Multicultural People will come from a Multicultural experience.

Don’t be mad 🙂

This blog is intended to start us all thinking about what the real purpose of “multicultural music is. I still firmly believe in the classics.  Football season is awesome!  Marching band is spreading to the NFL which rules!  Listening to Debussy still gives me chills.  I could go on and name many more outcomes from my experiences in the arts.  But getting students to have a love for the arts starts in Elementary school!  Which is why I love finding a way to teach the standards like reading music, history, and creating music through a Multicultural opportunity or ensemble.


The arts are and always will be an infusion of community, culture, and real life experiences.  This EPIC thought comes from the experiences I am blessed to see like a JAPANESE TAIKO ENSEMBLE on a marching band field or the YALE orchestra playing a Steel drum concerto (THANKS ANDY AKIHO).

So …  I know we can choose to agree that the idea of changing things up is a realization that (now more than ever).  Multicultural Music and arts is just a click of the mouse away from becoming the next thing that brings someone to a new understanding that Creativity will always be evolving to meet the most amazing purpose ………..   living out loud!  




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