Rich intercultural music engagement enhances cultural understanding: the impact of learning a musical instrument outside of one’s lived experience

Marjorie G. Li*, Kirk N. Olsen, Jane W. Davidson, William Forde Thompson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Rich intercultural music engagement (RIME) is an embodied form of engagement where by individuals immerse themselves in foreign musical practice, for example, by learning a traditional instrument from that culture. The present investigation evaluated whether RIME with Chinese or Middle Eastern music can nurture intercultural understanding. White Australian participants were randomly assigned to one of two plucked-string groups: Chinese pipa (n = 29) or Middle Eastern oud (n = 29). Before and after the RIME intervention, participants completed measures of ethnocultural empathy, tolerance, social connectedness, explicit and implicit attitudes towards ethnocultural groups, and open-ended questions about their experience. Following RIME, White Australian participants
reported a significant increase in ethnocultural empathy, tolerance, feelings of social connection, and improved explicit and implicit attitudes towards Chinese and Middle Eastern people. However, these benefits differed between groups. Participants who learned Chinese pipa reported reduced bias and increased social connectedness towards Chinese people, but not towards Middle Eastern people. Conversely, participants who learned Middle Eastern oud reported a significant increase in social connectedness towards Middle Eastern people, but not towards Chinese people. This is the first experimental evidence that participatory RIME is an effective tool for understanding a culture other than one’s own, with the added potential to reduce cultural bias.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1919
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • intercultural music engagement
  • embodiment
  • affordance
  • cultural empathy
  • tolerance
  • social connection
  • attitudes
  • racial bias
  • non-Western music training

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