MDG Discussion for Shevock’s (2019) “Waste in Popular Music Education: Rock’s Problematic Metaphor and Instrument-Making for Eco-Literacy.”

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Waste in Popular Music Education: Rock’s Problematic Metaphor and Instrument-Making for Eco-Literacy

Daniel J. Shevock
Penn State Altoona & State College Friends School, PA, USA

Abstract: Popular music education can ease or worsen the waste problem. Waste refers to things with “no value,” and the Global North produces a lot of waste. Not limited to material, waste can be seen as a dominant metaphor in rock music. The guiding question for this essay is, what opportunity does rock music present for cultivating eco-literacy through music? Before we can find solutions though, we need to recognize rock’s distinctive ecological challenges. Popular music is both implicated in the challenge of waste, and can help music educators explore opportunities for resistance. In music education, qualitative research suggests instrument-making increases knowledge, interest, creativity, and builds attachment to an instrument, in addition to reducing material waste. In our field’s move to incorporate popular musics, instrument-making can be a part of eco-literate music pedagogy.

Keywords: popular music education, rock music, eco-literacy, waste, instrument-making

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Discussion questions from the author:

  1. I argue for a link between material and metaphorical waste. The root seems to be capitalism. But what is the nature of that correlation? It doesn’t seem to be a numeric relationship—e.g., 1 hr. of metaphorical waste = 1 lb. of material waste. But we produce metaphorical waste (nonmusicians, “F” grades, dropouts, passivity) as well as material waste (e-waste, plastics, CO2); and those two seem connected in some way.
  2. Rock isn’t the only wasteful or even the most consumed genre. In 2018, Rock represents 14% of album consumption, where Hip-Hop/Rap represents 21.7%, Pop 20.1%, R&B 10.6%, Latin 9.4%, County 8.7%, EDM 3.9%, and Religious 3.2% (link: How is waste embedded and challenged in these other genres; and as we incorporate these genres in school music do we worsen or alleviate metaphorical waste by privileging those who have access to instruction (often suburbanites), and inhibiting those who do not?
  3. Orr conceives of eco-literacy as comprehending “interrelatedness” and cultivating an “attitude of care or stewardship.” What additional opportunities for cultivating eco-literacy through popular music education did I miss by focusing on a teaching technique (instrument-making) and teacher awareness of the “postmodern r’s”?

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