The Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble was a Ghanaian music ensemble that focused on Ewe music. I founded this ensemble in the elementary school where I taught in the Toronto area. From the time of its founding, one of the overarching goals I had for the group was a disruption of images and stereotypes that the students held of Africa in general, and more specifically, of Ghana. How did the students perceive Africa? Did the ensemble change their perceptions at all? How did my own positionality, as a white, Western woman enter the picture? How did students’ ensemble participation affect them politically? During the ensemble’s fourth year, I conducted a qualitative study to investigate these questions. I interviewed nine students from age 9 to 13 for their perceptions of the effects of their ensemble participation. This article examines the ways in which participation in the ensemble sustained stereotypes and media images as well as other images that commodify and exotify the Ghanaian culture. This article also investigates the ways in which music may disrupt these images. I conclude with implications for the place of the world music ensemble in music education, exploring both the political caveats that come with implementing such a program and potential ethical ways of creating world music ensembles in the public school system.
"Performing the “Exotic?”: Constructing an Ethical World Music Ensemble,"
Visions of Research in Music Education: Vol. 23, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lib.uconn.edu/vrme/vol23/iss1/2