Hmong youth arts culture: Music teaching and learning in community settings

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Hmong youth arts culture: Music teaching and learning in community settings

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Pre-service music educators are dedicated to learning the art of classroom and ensemble teaching, but they may be unaware of their ability to affect students’ thinking and music making around critical issues outside school music settings. Although numerous studies have identified a need to enhance music educators’ emphases in teacher education or music teaching in general to be inclusive of critical and democratic practices that forward students’ voices, little attention has been paid to how teachers help youth express their ideas about societal issues outside the music classroom. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the musical art forms and activities in Hmong communities that will inform democratic education in teacher preparation programs. Focusing on rap, spoken word poetry, and lyrical songs of ten Hmong youth artists, three guiding questions will be explored: (a) In what kinds of musical activities do youths participate? (b) For what purposes do Hmong youths create their arts? and (c) How might what Hmong do in their community inform music teacher preparation? Music educators who bring together various teaching and learning opportunities, critical pedagogy, and democratic action will forward students’ voices and help them become change agents for themselves, their schools, and communities. In this ethnographic study, I found that given opportunities to create raps, spoken word poems, and songs, Hmong youth become proactive citizens who advance the tenets of a free and democratic society in their communities when they express their ideas centered on personal, group, social, and political issues that affect them. The results of this study demonstrate that music teacher preparers will serve their pre-service music educators by forging a new, critical, and democratic practice that might be learned from community musicians.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Music. Advisor: Dr. Akosua O. Addo. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 240 pages, appendices A-F.

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Vu, Kinh Tien. (2013). Hmong youth arts culture: Music teaching and learning in community settings. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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