Many women have been important to eco-literate music pedagogy.
For instance, music education scholar Roberta Lamb was one of the first to suggest to me this work was important. It was also Lamb's 2014 ACT article, "Where Are The Women?" that led me to look to ecofeminist scholarship. She shares a quote by an ecofeminist that has influenced my skepticism about globalism: "Marciel Mena López suggests that, 'Globalization is an excuse for ending diversity' (2011, 229)."
My work into Satis Coleman (1878-1961) made me aware of many of the ways music and the natural environment are interconnected. I discuss her pedagogical idea of finding "Silence in Nature" in my 2015 MEJ article (research I conducted in 2013 in a graduate history class). Two of my mentors at Penn State, Linda Thornton and Joanne Rutkowski, deserve mention because at various points they helped support my current ecological work (Thornton through conversations about the work early in the process; and Rutkowski by reading a chapter of the book). My friend Val Flamini also read a chapter, and commented on it. She's been incorporating these ideas in her own teaching, which is an inspiration!
Though I found it late in my book writing, Julia Koza's 2006 research, "Save the Music?" draws together the ideas of cultural and environmental sustainability. She suggested we can do more with less. When I was beginning this work in 2015, I came upon Charlene Morton's 2012 chapter "Music Education 'For All My Relations'," which places ecological issues within the context of Dewey's scholarship (which I already understood well, as my doctoral cognate was a self-made "Democratic Teaching Practices.") So, without the work of these women, my book, Eco-Literate Music Pedagogy, would not exist.
Outside of music education scholarship, a mentor was Madhu Suri Prakash, who I studied educational philosophy with during my Ph.D. studies at Penn State. In her 1994 paper, "What Are People For?," (expanding on her friend Wendell Berry's short story of the same name) she discusses the connection of the destruction of culture and nature (an idea that is still central to my work). And so my work is heavily infused and informed by the work of women. Particularly, I use the work of Ecofeminists Vandana Shiva and Karen Warren in my book. Women are distinctly placed in our society to have insight about the natural environment that, if we take their work seriously, can make our profession better; more moral.
Today in Intro to Western Music, my students will be listening to Libby Larsen's "The Womanly Song of God." They'll listen, and analyze the lyrics and make sense of them. I leave the lyrics below for your reflection. How powerful these are, especially when considered along with the powerful, rhythmic, moving song.
I am the woman dancing the world alive:
Birds on my wrists
Sun-feathers in my hair
I leap through hoops of atoms;
Under my steps
Plants burst into bloom
Birches tremble in their silver
Can you not see the roundness of me:
Curve of the earth
Maternal arms of the sea?
I am the birthing woman
Kneeling by the river
Heaving, pushing forth a sacred body!
Round, round the wind
Spinning itself wild
Drawing great circles of music
Across the sky
Round the gourd full of seed
Round the moon in its ripeness
Round the door through which I come
Stooping into your house
I am a God of a thousand names:
Why cannot one of them be