A narrative inquiry into intercultural collaborations through activities in music education within a large overseas american school system
Black, Timothy Michael
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Music educators employed by the Large Overseas American School System (LOASS) at the center of this study live and work within the borders of allied host nations. Their students are dependents of military and civilian personnel stationed on bases situated on allied foreign soil. The researcher explores numerous perceptions of music educators and students who have engaged in intercultural collaboration, an unexplored activity occurring in the context of LOASS. Participants report on particular circumstances and issues surrounding activities in music education that include overseas host nation stakeholders. Contributions to the body of literature include re-envisioning the process through which one becomes intercultural, the role of antenarrative and what it comprises, as well as distinguishing unidirectional musical exchange from the activity of omnidirectional collaboration. Data sources include surveys, interviews, and historical evidence such as photos, school yearbooks and newspaper accounts. Survey results obtained from former LOASS music educators and students inform readers of the depth and breadth of the LOASS system, and the demographics of its participant pools. Interview data were manually coded, and revealed several emergent themes: motivations for initiating collaborative activities and what those activities look like; impact of collaborations on former music teachers, their students and host nation counterparts; barriers which inhibit such collaborations from taking place; strategies for overcoming those barriers, and what participants believe qualifies such collaborations as being successful. Yearbook and photographic relics provided an historical sense of overseas schools’ vision and legacy through writings and pictures archived over a 68-year continuum. In totum, these data comprise an antenarrative ‘story before the story’ from which participants’ narratives emerge and are presented in their own words. Framed within this context, the results provide a blueprint of how other members of the music education community can engage in such activities and successfully overcome any potential barriers that may inhibit them. Finally, a number of actionable alternative research methodologies are proffered to future researchers that may address peripheral issues regarding intercultural collaborations through activities in music education worldwide. In doing so, this study may encourage other like-minded music educators and their students to do the same.