Alexandra Kertz-Welzel, Globalizing Music Education. A Framework (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018)
A recurring challenge for the scholarship of music education is that, in a time of information overflow, we still miss significant knowledge about each other's work, disseminated across national and cultural borders. However, as such challenges are situated within larger, more general frames of cultural as well as political forces and powers, we need systematic approaches to handling them, based on international and global perspectives.
Alexandra Kertz-Welzel's book Globalizing Music Education constitutes an excellent ground for such work. Her purpose is to provide a conceptual framework, entailing "a theoretical structure of categories and conceptual elements that can facilitate becoming a united and diverse global music education community" (1) which is "culturally sensitive." (2) She constructs the framework by introducing its conceptual elements along with unfolding the argument within each chapter. For some readers, it might have been easier to achieve the framework structure if described explicitly, for example in a model. For others, it may be exciting to explore it gradually together with the author as she develops her narrative.
Kertz-Welzel intends the book to be a guide "for people's own scholarly journeys, as well as for the profession." (3) As her point of departure, she takes a comprehensive perspective, drawing the readers' attention to how "[g]lobalization and internationalization have shaped our lives in ways that we do not notice anymore." (4) Pointing to a variety of non-musical as well as musical examples and relating her overview to social anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen's (5) eight dimensions of globalization, she demonstrates her comprehensive knowledge of relevant information within other fields along with the ability to utilize it in order to enrich her analyses. This attention to other fields represents a recurring trait within the book, significantly increasing its quality.
Modestly and realistically, she states that the book "can only be a first attempt to start a professional discourse about the impact globalization and internationalization have on music education worldwide...." (6) Here, one might be confused about whether 'discourse' points to 'discussion' or discourse theory, (7) but the latter perspective is brought in more clearly as she moves along. Secondly, the attention towards 'impact,' occurring several times throughout the book, raises a question about the balance between a focus on coping with the consequences of globalization and emphasizing our agency in these matters. Bringing in the latter by statements such as "[w]e are actors, not victims" (8) and increasing this balance when discussing policy in Chapter Three, Kertz-Welzel's argument still reveals a potential for further discussion. Moreover, addressing the challenges of globalization, we need to "help [students] develop different kinds of musicianship connected to their personal music identities," (9) she holds. Again, a potential for further discussion emerges, this time about the weight on the personal and individual over the collective. This issue might be an interesting one to discuss further within a globalized music education community.
What is globalizing music education about, then? A condensed version of Kertz-Welzel's argument...