EDITORIAL, Transform: New Voices in Community Music, Issue 3, Nov. 2021

Catherine Birch

Lee Higgins

Birch, C. & Higgins, L. (2021) Editorial-Download PDF

We would like to welcome you all to the third issue of Transform, the ICCM’s open-access, online, peer-refereed journal for emerging scholars working in the field of community music. This issue comprises of six articles written by students engaged in community music masters’ programs across three countries, England, Ireland, and Canada. The issue begins with an article written by Rory Wells (York St John University) titled ‘Activist Music Education: Where is the Community?’ The article considers Juliet Hess’s framework for an activist music education for schools which is rooted in Freirean critical pedagogy and explores the similarities between community music and the ideas put forward by Hess. Rory suggests that there is a need for a more open and cooperative relationship between music education for social justice and community music concluding that a shift toward a greater reciprocal and horizontal relationship could mitigate the danger of music education subsuming community music’s work and consequently help to build better networks of solidarity and mutual aid between the fields.

Our second article, ‘Exploring Best Practices in Online Community Music’, is written by Elizabeth Hewitt (University of Limerick) and sets out to explore best practices in online community music as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was undertaken in the first few months of the pandemic exploring issues of language, accessibility, and community music values as applied to an online setting. Elizabeth’s interviews with community music practitioners who moved their projects online helps connect the ideas to contemporary practice. Locating her work within the field of community singing, our third article, Emily Steer’s ‘Creating Queer Choral Community’ (Wilfrid Laurier University) explores the history of the queer choral movement and seeks to examine the impacts of participating in an LGBTQ+ community choir both on the choir’s membership and on the wider community. Using a ‘mixed methods grounded theory approach’, Emily developed a theory of queer choral musicking, which models the unique space created by a queer choir and transformative power this can have in a community.

Emily Lawler (York St John University) is our fourth author and presents an examination of the notion of ‘transformation’ through the liminoidity of community music. Emily tells us that the ideas associated with liminality were initially developed by anthropologist Arnold van Gennep in 1909 and has since been fruitfully applied to a broad spectrum of scholarship, perhaps most notable by Victor Turner who invented the term “liminoid” to depict liminal-like occurrences of transitional ambiguity within the context of more modern society. Emily suggests that community music activity might be understood to typify liminoid phenomena as liminoid events subvert the normative social structures of society and subsequently hold transformative potential. Emily concludes her article by implying that community music is still, to some extent, confined within the constraints of, and is therefore dependent upon, the very norm that it critiques.

Kate Daly (University of Limerick), continues a previous theme within this issue with an article focused toward community music online activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through interviews with the the Lismorahaun Singers choir, she explores themes related to feelings of connection, musical sustenance, and fulfilment. Kate highlights the importance the participants placed upon seeing familiar faces and singing familiar songs and how this maintained the group’s norms and created social capital. Our final article, ‘Rocking Reconciliation: Karen Zoid’s Model of Reconciliation for a Post-Apartheid Generation’ is written by Lorinda van Wyk (Wilfrid Laurier University) and has its focus upon the post-Apartheid reconciliation process within South Africa. Highlighting the work of popular musician Karen Zoid, Lorinda suggests that Zoid has had some success in bridging gaps between groups in South Africa, consequently helping the promotion of inclusivity in music performance stage and potentially offering models for cooperation.

We would like to thank Kathleen Turner and Lee Willingham for supporting this process and all the authors for their ability to both respond to critique and hit the deadlines. Thanks also to Fran Garry for uploading the articles. We hope you enjoy reading the articles as much as we have.