September 11, 2016.
Fifteen years ago today, a great tragedy swept the nation and rippled around the world. We take this occasion to pause and wonder: Can/should music educators, music students, and community musicians put their creativities to work—in small or larger ways—to commemorate this anniversary, inspire hope for a better world, and/or celebrate the valor of those who bravely serve to protect our communities and nations? If so, why? If not, why not? If so, in what ways?
- Should students perform and listen to musics that have been created to address and resist political/social tragedies
- Should students compose music—e.g., songs, rap verse, performance/art pieces—that support people’s social rights and challenge wrongs?
- Should students arrange musics that were specifically composed as tributes to victims of 9/11 and other tragedies past and present—e.g., Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” or “The Empty Sky”; Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You”; The Beastie Boys “An Open Letter to NYC”; and Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll”?
As you weigh these questions, we leave you with a music video that “performs resistance” and may inspire hope among some listeners and music makers. It affirms that people can make music toward change.
The video is based, in part, on Bob Marley’s “War.” Marley composed the song in 1976. The lyrics are nearly identical to the speech that Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie gave in 1963 at the United Nations General Assembly. It was the first time that a head of state spoke in the name of Africa at the U.N. Selassie’s speech called for world peace. Both Marley’s song and this video echo the need for world-wide positive change.
Maybe our music classrooms and musical communities can/should become—at appropriate times—sites of personal and social reflection and what we might call “artivism,” as practiced by amateur and professional artists in every domain.