Spirituals And Gospel Music Performance Practice: A Dual Curriculum That Bridges The Cultural Divide

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This study explores methods in which the teaching of Gospel Music and Spirituals can be used as a conduit to bridge ethnic, cultural, and racial divides that are often found in American society. After working with various cultural and racial groups within religious and secular circles, the researcher has observed that individual cultures can have very distinct and opposite approaches to learning music, even in the United States, which some consider to be a cultural "melting pot." More specifically, there are cultures that embrace the written or visual learning tradition, while others lean more heavily toward the aural or oral learning tradition. As a result, the perceived differences deriving from these two opposite learning traditions can often create both unconscious and conscious divisions among various cultural and ethnic groups. However, using teaching techniques and performance practices related to both Gospel Music and Spirituals (which use different although related learning approaches), one can create an opportunity to bridge the gap between the aural and visual learning traditions and can create an environment ripe for intra-cultural and cross-cultural communication.

   This dissertation studied two separate groups of individuals; one group from the visual cultural learning tradition and one group from the aural cultural learning tradition. Both groups were taught music through the process of either an aural or visual process (or in some cases, by a combination of both), and their behavioral responses were observed during rehearsals. The results of these observations are used to create an outline for curricular approaches to teaching groups from opposing learning traditions, utilizing the opportunity that this presents not only to bridge the divide which often exists between individuals from different learning traditions, but also to offer a way to address ethnic and cultural divides.