As an instrumentalist, I found this article particularly fascinating. Naturally, I would feel a certain need to incorporate instruments into the classroom, not only due to the state and national standards, but also from my background as an instrumentalist and I found the instrumental incorporation techniques of Mr. Carolin to be extremely inventive and far reaching. Additionally, I think his techniques will be helpful to me, as a future music educator, attempting to find a way balance music with multiculturalism.
"Once the children made the connection between the sound of the ukulele and the story, I could tell them about the fifteenth-century Portuguese sailors who sailed around Africa looking for a water route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia"(39). The jump from music to world and historical contexts that was presented in this lesson was quite inventive and, I believe, could provide a form for other lessons. Other lessons presented in this article, such as the extension from the banjo to African culture, are quite inventive. Using musical instruments as a "departure point" is an excellent way to incorporate both the instrumental music aspect, and the muliticultural aspect that is required of general music education.
The only critique I have for Mr. Carolin, and in general, comes from this description that he offered of a lesson plan: "In the course of this lesson, you can discuss advances in navigation that made it possible for the Europeans to sail around the world. The students could research the expansion of European civilization in the last five hundred years. What caused Europeans to seek a water route to Asia? Why were spices so important ot them? How was the economy of Europe affected? What role did religion play?" (40). The list of questions goes on in this fashion. My general complaint with this, though, is where is the music? While I do feel that it is important to include multicultural education as well as cross-content study (as dictated by the standards), I feel that by following these lesson plans, the music may be overlooked as it is only used as a "departure point" for future discussions and could possibly play a more prominant role in the whole discussion of cultures as music is one of the aspects that defines a culture.
In all, though, I believe that the techniques presented in the article show excellent ways in which instruments can be incorporated into the classroom to address not only the instrumental aspects of music performance, but also the world views of music.
Carolin, Michael. "An Instrumental Approach to Culture Study in General Music". Music Educator's Journal. May 2006. 38-41.