‘More of this’: Bridging the empathetic divide by reaching out through music making

‘More of this’: Bridging the empathetic divide by reaching out through music making Journal Article


  • Author(s): Susan West
  • Published: 2011
  • Volume: 1

Abstract: This paper describes an innovative music making program and reports on its application in the broad community at and around Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast. The involved individuals include adults and children associated with Jervis Bay School, including families from the Wreck Bay community and Creswell Navy Base, as well as residents in the wider area. The Music Education Program has been designed and developed over the last eleven years at the Australian National University School of Music. It is based on a holistic, universally applicable principle for music making, the Music Outreach Principle, that prioritises socio/musical engagement and social inclusion. Its philosophy combines the idea of music making as an altruistic form of outreach to others, with an aspiration to empower each individual participant to develop his/her own musical persona. Music becomes the vehicle for bridging the empathetic divide between individuals: it is as once intensely individualized but intensely communal. The MEP has emerged from the school system in the ACT, but it functions on a broader platform that is not limited by the requirements of any one formal system. While it is not specifically aimed at overcoming ‘problems’ for any specific ‘atrisk’ or marginalized group, it appears to have an impact on such groups, transforming the ‘helped’ into the ‘helper.’ This paper describes the MEP and its operations; its particular application at Jervis Bay School and surrounds, and the way in which its activities may relate to larger issues of inclusion and social cohesion. In particular it raises the possibility that a holistic approach to musical engagement that does not prioritise skill development, that has no mission to ‘solve’ problems for any group or individual, and that does not have a specific reconciliation agenda, may have much to offer all these areas.

Notes: Journal of the Wollotuka Institute; University of Newcastle

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Suggested Citation
Susan West, 2011, ‘More of this’: Bridging the empathetic divide by reaching out through music making, Volume:1, Journal Article, viewed 08 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3401.

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