Bimusical Identity of Children in a Mexican American School
Soto, Amanda Christina
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The purpose of this ethnographic study is to examine the bimusical identity of Mexican American children in a Mexican American bilingual-bicultural school as they navigate between the different musical and cultural spheres that are present within their daily lives. The research lens is directed towards the bimusical interests and sensibilities of Mexican American children, and to the extent that they are present in the articulation and manifestation of their musical identities. The school and home influences, and various "agents of influence" (including teachers, parents and extended family members, and the media) are explored as children forge their bicultural, bilingual, and bimusical identity in one school and community rich with American mainstream and Mexican-based cultural practices. Documentation was amassed over a period of 37 weeks, including observations of school music classes, performances, recess periods, mariachi rehearsals, and community events, along with interviews of 67 children and school personnel. The children enrolled in an elementary school in a small community in the Yakima Valley, Washington state, shared a spectrum of interests and enthusiasms for music, and offered perspective, on their knowledge of two different languages and their family cultural traditions. Children articulated their musical identities through their knowledge of Mexican-based repertoire--including Spanish-language children's songs, church songs, mediated popular songs, and mariachi music and English-language children's songs, American mainstream popular music, and songs of the standard school repertoire. Their attunement to Mexican-based music and awareness of American mainstream music (especially school and mediated popular music) was evident in their musical engagement and in what music, musicians, and musical activities they could verbally describe. This ethnographic study revealed children who were rooted to the musical sensibilities honed at home and continued in the dual-language curriculum of a bilingual school, where Mexican-based and American mainstream musical experiences are present. Implications were discussed for teaching music to children whose language, culture, and musical roots were decidedly of a culture other than the school-dictated dominant English-language culture, and recommendations were offered for honoring home and school culture in a music curriculum that pays tribute to a strengthening of the bimusical identity of children.
- Music