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Teaching Popular Music in Finland Popular music has, on the whole, been accepted as part of Finnish music curricula (Väkevä, 2006), as a means to engage young people in meaningful, relevant and enjoyable learning experiences. Rationales for the inclusion of popular genres in Finnish music classrooms are often seen as self evident, and practices of popular music education go unchallenged, unquestioned and unexamined. However, the semiotics of youth music may not always coincide with traditional educational values – popular genres often explore themes that are in rebellion with societal norms, finding an identity in the antithesis to the mainstream. From the gyrating hips of Elvis Presley, to the racial and political protests by N.W.A., popular music has long been subject to adult condemnation, simultaneously endearing it to young people looking to identify themselves with an expression of rebellion or dissent (Friesen & Helfrich, 1998; Kotorba & Vannini, 2009). Music teachers need to be aware of the extramusical and cultural associations of the genres they choose to include in their teaching, and the values, prejudices and concerns that accompany them. Academics and protest groups have drawn correlations between certain popular genres labeled by North and Hargreaves (2008) as ‘problem music’, such as hard rock, heavy metal, hip hop, rap, punk and electronic dance music, with various problem behaviours, and there are fears that some of this music may endorse or encourage criminality, immorality and deviance to young people (Väkevä, 2006). Through associating particular genres with transgression, deviance and criminality, we can view these genres as ‘criminalized’, based on perceptions of a correlation, with or without evidence to support these assumptions. Internationally speaking, genres such as heavy metal and hard rock have been subjected to intense scrutiny and moral panics due to the aggressive performance styles and controversial topics that these genres often explore. Parents of suicide victims have unsuccessfully sued heavy metal bands (Lacourse, Claes, & Villeneuve, 2000) and overseas agents of social control such as the American Medical Association have labeled heavy music as dangerous and have called for censorship (Kotarba & Vannini, 2009). Connections have even been made between incidents such as the burning of churches by Norwegian black metal drummer, Varg Vikernes, and a preference for Marilyn Manson’s music by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the adolescents responsible for the 1999 Columbine shootings in America (CNN, 1998). In Australia at the time of the Finland school shootings, we heard not so much about the shooter’s social struggles or their mental health, but we heard an awful lot about the Heavy Metal music played on their youtube videos – quite a different media approach to that taken in Finland. These media reports and social perceptions have inspired a number of empirical studies investigating the correlations between aggressive music and potentially harmful behaviours. Unlike countries such as the USA or UK, Heavy Metal and hard rock have long enjoyed wide popularity in Finnish culture – as they have here in Norway. Home to a wide variety of metal bands, Eurovision metal winners, metal music festivals, metal karaoke bars and Metallimessu (metal mass) church services, Finland’s metal scene is world renown. Perhaps the perspectives of Finnish music educators are very different to those of educators overseas, as metal and hard rock are welcomed as a mainstream genre.
1994). and perceptions of the wider public. 1995). perceptions that may have criminalized dance music and the dance club scene. alcohol. Finland has been a late developer when it comes to club culture. Despite the numerous studies investigating the behavioural links between exposure to particular genres of popular music and aggression. particularly through the French media and politics. A.Alexis Robertson Doctoral Student. also one of the most popular music genres at the time of the research. François Grosdidier filed a petition signed by 200 French MPs to bring legal action against seven French rap artists for inflammatory lyrics and inciting the 2005 French riots (Soumahoro. French rap has been criminalized. Miell & MacDonald. with the strongest link found between House/Techno music and ecstasy use (Pedersen. incidentally. though the scene is growing. The most dominant substance used is of course. 2008). W. 2002). rather than an imitation of American rap culture. and the accompanying subcultures remain somewhat eclectic and marginal. the possibility remains. that foreign media and other reports have influenced Finn’s associations with the genre. 1995. Drug use is much less prevalent. the group that also shows the highest levels of illegal substance use. Rubin. Similarly to French rappers. and lyrics stem from the Finnish musicians’ experiences. violence. though was relatively slow in gaining popularity. Research conducted in Oslo has found that subcultural music preferences are predictors of illegal drug use patterns. without a vibrant scene existing. or satisfy particular social. raising concerns as Finland follows the lead of Western Europe with a slight delay (Salasuo & Seppälä. The idea that rap can be the fuel for a social fire is not peculiar to France. and celebrating a binge drinking culture. According to the users and gratifications approach (Larson. emotional and developmental needs (Arnett. As far as I am aware. & Skrondal. the Hood and its AfricanAmerican origins. Illegal substance use and binge drinking has also been linked to particular popular subcultures and music genres. there is also evidence that adolescents may use these popular genres constructively. rather than a fashionable party crowd or good taste. It is the perceptions surrounding these genres and the implications for its . adolescents intentionally select particular genres of music to reflect characteristics of their personality. depression or substance abuse. 2005). although use is slowly increasing. but not focused on these causal relationships between particular popular music genres and particular behaviours – be they positive or negative. Larson & Offer. the reputation of club culture is that of a strange drug using culture. rap has not incited any riots in Finland yet. French politician. but many differences. International Rap and Hip Hop research has yet to reach Finland. Seemingly far removed from the Ghetto. Finns have begun rhyming in their mother-tongue. Sibelius Academy Another genre frequently accused of leading adolescents astray is rap/hip hop. and performers have rather followed the lead of other European artists. regulate moods and to develop a sense of identity (Hargreaves. and so the scene. establish and manage relationships. Rap arrived in Finland in the early 1980s. with many young Finns maintaining. It has been suggested that music is able to assist young people in developing a positive self-concept. It has been suggested that many of the ‘expressions of taste and distinctions made in club culture are too controversial for the taste of the majority of Finns’ (Salasuo & Seppälä. and educators require attention. 1999). 2005) and that generally. Finnish rap has some similarities with the scene that gave birth to it. My own research is interested in. Individuals attending dance music clubs are typically between 18 and 30 years of age.
. Sibelius Academy inclusion or exclusion from educational curricula that I am focusing on. and their repertoire. it is generally accepted that music teachers should embrace pluralism and try to teach a wide variety of musics. Alternatively. uninformed or misinformed. From this population. fears. morality and their own teaching. Overseas. 1994) will be applied to select a smaller sample to participate in individual interviews. identify and compare their own musical identities with others. and Finland’s social approach to youth welfare and transgression. Educators similarly invite and communicate meaning. interpretations of meaning and the cultures associated with different groups of people. portrayed in a pejorative way. in the moral education of Finnish youth. in a variety of different ways. a maximum variation sampling strategy (Miles & Huberman. Finnish music educators may not consider any genres as problematic. However. the role of the music teacher. there have been an abundance of calls for censorship and/or exclusion of particular genres from educational curricula. is it a laissez-faire approach. backgrounds and experiences. A number of popular music cultures have been criminalized. will be increasingly put under the microscope. be they informed. If Finland accepts pluralism in the music curriculum. they are making assumptions about intended meanings. and the individual teacher. In order to investigate these perceptions surrounding the inclusion or exclusion of popular music in the Finnish classroom. my study’s main research question is: What are the moral boundaries that Finnish school music teachers work within when using popular music in the classroom? This is explored through a number of sub-questions. abound regarding the affect of the unholy trinity of sex. and interviews. morally problematic and perhaps. Data will be analyzed taking previous research and a theoretical framework into account (as yet. suggesting that certain genres may be excluded from school education.Alexis Robertson Doctoral Student. This will ensure the inclusion of differing opinions. In Finland. raising questions regarding the role of the school. The entire population of secondary music teachers working in Finland will be invited to complete a questionnaire survey regarding popular music genres and cultures. not decided upon). drugs and rock ‘n roll on our youth. criminalized. namely: Are particular popular music cultures criminalized in the classroom? Which popular music cultures raise issues of morality for music teachers? How do music teachers deal with criminalized or morally problematic music in the classroom? This study will employ a hybrid methodology through the inclusion of a questionnaire survey to be analyzed quantitatively. or are there careful moral decisions made by music educators dependent on any number of factors? Given the established tradition of popular music education in Finland. values and perceptions through the music they choose to include in their lessons. to ask how music educators deal with a music that is often controversial. identified as different from the moral norm and associated with deviance and immorality. As music is increasingly recognized as a source of moral guidance for young people. creating an antiseptic canon of school-appropriate popular music. As individuals categorize. and important. I feel it is relevant. to be analyzed qualitatively.
Beyond effects: Adolescents as active media users. R.(2008).42 . Journal of Youth and Adolescence. (1995). W. Zillman (eds. Vol.M.W. 321-332 Larson.Alexis Robertson Doctoral Student.). Teaching Popular Music in Finland: What’s up. On the test of the French Republic as taken (and failed). (Ed. 126-131 . 22. and Skrondal.C. 94 pp. pp. D. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 24. 1985 – 1991. D. pp.M.) Youth Culture: Identity in a Postmodern World. pp. No. Pedersen. Sibelius Academy References Arnet. (2008). 24. R. (1999). W. M.A. CA: Sage North.W. Ecstacy and new patterns of drug use: A normal population study. M.66 Väkevä.A & Vannini. & Helfrich. Addiction. Erlbaum Salasuo & Seppälä..417-436). (1998). vol. Issue 98.Qualitative Data Analysis (2nd ed. 3.R. (2009). The party scene of Helsinki Nordisk Alkohol Och Narkotikatidskrift.cnn. & Hargreaves. (2006).. Thousand Oaks.J. J. pp.html Friesen. Hargreaves.511-518 CNN website (1998). & Huberman. 30 no. Social Justice and Sexism for Adolescents: A Content Analysis of Lyrical Themes and Gender Presentations in Canadian Heavy Metal Music. 24. & MacDonald. D. (2005). Musical Identities. Understanding society through popular music. Bryant & D. 535-550 Miles. pp. B.J. Secrets in the bedroom: Adolescents’ private use of media. Transition. 1695-1706. R. Claes.J. Hillsdale. Miell. 142-145 Soumahoro. Rubin. Media uses and effects: A uses and gratifications perspective.). 2.B. Oxford: Oxford University Press. in Epstein. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. In J.. (1994). & Villeneuve. (2002). NJ. vol. pp. (2000). A.com/SPECIALS/1998/schools/index. Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. vol. vol. Vol. The social and applied psychology of music. P. Malden. A. A. what’s ahead? Journal of Music Education. D (1995). USA: Oxford University Press Kotarba. & Offer. www. A. MA: Blackwell Publishers. L. (1994). Heavy metal music and adolescent suicide risk. Larson. NY: Routledge Lacourse. J.
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