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Rethinking Social Action through Music

Geoffrey Baker


Texte intégral

For Miranda

1A book such as this, founded on fieldwork, is a collective construction. So much of it is based on conversations and interviews, reading and listening to others’ ideas, and watching others at work, that the employees and students of the Red (the Network of Music Schools of Medellín) are really co-creators. I am extremely grateful to all of them for their warmth, openness, and patience. I particularly thank everyone who agreed to be interviewed or who conversed with me at greater length. The list would be too long to name everyone, but in the process of writing this book I have relistened to every interview and reread every field note, so nothing and no one has been forgotten. While it is inevitable that my perspective will not reflect the views of everyone in such a large organization and will contradict the opinions of some, I learnt from every encounter, conversation, and observation, and I applaud all those who have played a part in the Red’s search for coexistence and citizenship through music education.

2I am indebted to the general directors who opened the doors of the Red to me and kept them open at different times over a period of eight years: Marta Eugenia Arango, Ana Cecilia Restrepo, Juan Fernando Giraldo, and Vania Abello. I was also fortunate to receive the support of Mábel Herrera at the Ministry of Civic Culture. I am hugely grateful to Aníbal Parra and Luis Fernando Franco, who were vital pieces of the puzzle and left a significant mark on this book. Their professional and personal support was invaluable.

3A number of people with expertise in Social Action Through Music or closely related fields agreed to read and comment on my draft manuscript. My warmest thanks to them for undertaking such a major task. In alphabetical order: Dr Christine D’Alexander, Northern Illinois University, Co-Chair of the ISME Music Education for Social Change SIG, Teaching Artist and Program Director at YOLA (2011–17); Dr Anna Bull, Portsmouth University, author of Class, Control, and Classical Music (OUP, 2019); Dr Louise Godwin, musician, researcher, and arts manager, formerly with an El Sistema-inspired program in Australia; Dr Graça Mota, Porto Polytechnic, former chair of the ISME El Sistema SIG; Dr Ludim Pedroza, Texas State University, Venezuelan author of academic articles on El Sistema; Dr Andrea Rodríguez, researcher and National Psychosocial Lead at the Colombian program Batuta; and Professor John Sloboda, OBE, FBA, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, President of SIMM (Social Impact of Making Music). Additionally, Ana Cecelia Restrepo (former general director of the Red) read and responded to Chapters 1 and 2. I am very grateful to all of these readers for their time, effort, and comments. Nevertheless, any errors, misunderstandings, and flaws are entirely my responsibility.

4There are many others—musicians, scholars, and educators from around the world—who have played a less direct but no less important role in my research over the last decade: sharing their ideas and experiences; inviting me to share my own perspectives in a variety of academic and non-academic spaces; and, above all, offering moral support, giving me vital sustenance to continue with the fascinating but not always popular work of thinking critically about Social Action Through Music. I cannot name everyone here, but they know who they are and I gratefully recognize and remember their input. Nevertheless, I would like to make special mention of Lukas Pairon, John Sloboda, and many others at SIMM (both board members and event participants) for creating an invaluable space for critical thinking about the social impact of making music in recent years. I must also recognize the numerous Venezuelan musicians who have supported me, whether behind the scenes or, like Gabriela Montero, Gustavo Medina, and Luigi Mazzocchi, in public. I know both the value and the potential cost of such support.

5A special note of thanks to Louise Godwin for many stimulating conversations about music and social action, for continually drawing important ideas to my attention, and for putting up with a year of “once the book is out of the way…”; Natalia Puerta, who made some important introductions in Medellín; and D., whose direct help with the fieldwork was invaluable and whose indirect help with this book has been immeasurable.

6 I gratefully acknowledge support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, whose Leadership Fellowship (grant reference AH/P011683/1) enabled the fieldwork; Royal Holloway University of London, which assisted throughout the process and provided research leave to allow the drafting of the book manuscript; and Agrigento, whose trustees were patient and understanding during the final stages of writing and publication, permitting me to finish the project calmly. The Music & Letters Trust and Royal Holloway generously contributed towards the publication costs, and the Red kindly provided some of the photos.

7My thanks to all at Open Book Publishers, particularly Alessandra Tosi, Lucy Barnes, Anna Gatti, and Luca Baffa. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to publish this book in open access so that it can be freely available to readers in Latin America and around the world.

Fig. 1. Archive of Red de Escuelas de Música. CC BY.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1. Archive of Red de Escuelas de Música. CC BY.
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