Overcoming negative emotions in world music: Qualitative understanding of the Meaning of repeated listening


Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Just as the study of foreign languages has become a common practice in schools and universities, the study of world music is becoming a requirement for all music students at the university level. Unlike language courses, however, the study of world music is normally provided in one or two courses, each covering as many regions and cultures of music as possible. Literature on music preference and music education has made suggestions as to what kinds of world music are appropriate for untrained students (Demorest & Schultz, 2004) and the manner in which to present it (Fung, 1994). Margulis (2013) highlights the role of repeated listening in appreciating music, especially that which is unfamiliar to the listener. She claims that one’s preference of a certain type of music is influenced largely by exposure to the sounds and expressions of the music. Repeated listening may even allow randomly sequenced notes to be heard as music. Instead of viewing musical preference as a fixed condition of subsequent musical experience and learning, she underscores the ransformation of one’s musical preference and the importance of cultivating enlightened ears. In this action research project, we developed a way to monitor students’ learning experiences of world music by facilitating their repeated listening of music that sounded “unpleasant” to their ears. We hypothesized that focused, repeated listening leads to the cultivation of enlightened ears. How did they come to terms with unfamiliar sounds of world music? Their listening diaries and individual interview data indicated that they challenged their own frames of musical understanding through repeated listening over a period of time. The findings suggested that, consistent with Dewey’s theory of experience, the students each created continuity of experiences and generated their own meanings out of their listening experiences. Meaningful learning also appeared to be linked to students’ preceding experiences of music. Dewey’s theory of experience proved useful in illuminating the challenges, processes, and transformations that they had undergone through the course of world music study.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


Matsunobu, K., Davidson, R., & Lo, K. Y. (2015, July). Overcoming negative emotions in world music: Qualitative understanding of the Meaning of repeated listening. Paper presented at The 10th Asia-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research (APSMER): Music education for the future generation, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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