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Towards a pedagogy of deviance

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This article engages the narratives of three Toronto hip-hop artists to explore the pedagogical possibilities revealed through the processes of performance identity construction. By immersing themselves in hip-hop communities, artists learn ways of knowing and negotiating their place at the interstices of the normative frameworks that underlie their unique combinations of cultural contexts. Artists’ stories reveal how they bring themselves into being through movement and sound. These narrations of identity become indicative of an artist’s style through performative iterations embedded with the opportunity for enacting difference. For hip-hop artists, deviating from performative expectations is not a mere possibility, but formative intention in the tradition of the African American practice of Signifyin(g), as delineated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Conversations with hip-hop artists invite reflection on what we could accomplish through a music education pedagogy that cultivates creative deviancy that reveals, breaks open and overturns limiting conventions.
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Keywords: Hip-hop; Signification; Toronto; music education; narrative; pedagogy; performativity; popular music education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: December 1, 2019

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  • The main aims of Journal of Popular Music Education, especially initially, will be iteratively to define the parameters of the field and disciplines of its readership and contributors (especially with regard to other journals in popular music and music education), this being an emerging field of scholarship and practice. The other principal aim will be to disseminate excellent critique and other forms of scholarship (e.g. phenomenological) in and related to the field. The journal will have an inclusive, global reach. 'Education' and 'popular music' are terms that we expect to be stretched and problematized through rigorous examination from multiple international perspectives.
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