Damascus Kafumbe

Damascus Kafumbe, Music: Towards a Decolonial Pedagogy: African Music and Dance Performance in the American Academy

When students enroll in world music performance courses, they typically enter them carrying certain stereotypes, biases, and expectations that distort the learning process. Perhaps the most common of such misconceptions is that all musical knowledge and skills can and should be transmitted primarily through Euro-American pedagogical methods such as written notation, individualized instruction, and codified theory. This presentation makes a case for musical pedagogy that utilizes the cultural principles that inform the artistic styles being taught as frameworks for instruction. Drawing on two decades of experience teaching African music and dance performance in the American academy, the talk demonstrates this approach’s efficacy through recorded performances, exemplary quotes from student reflections, and my analysis of these materials. The presentation is part of a larger project (teaching guide) that contributes to ongoing discourses about effective pedagogy.  

Damascus Kafumbe is a performing ethnomusicologist, teacher, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, composer, and instrument technician from Uganda. Since joining the Middlebury music faculty in 2011, Professor Kafumbe has developed and taught several courses in ethnomusicology and world music, directed the Middlebury African Music and Dance Ensemble, and maintained the College’s Ugandan musical instrument collection. Professor Kafumbe’s research interests span diverse fields, including African studies, ethnomusicology, performance, history, politics, ritual, and social organization. 

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