Musics of Many Cultures: Study guide & Workbook, is designed to guide students in college and university world music classes through the diverse chapters of Elizabeth May’s textbook, Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction(Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1881). The Study Guide & Workbook helps both music and non-music majors to understand the materials in the May textbook; it also aids in preparations for exams.
May’s textbook is very diversely written because there are two dozen contributing authors. The quotation by McAllester in the Editor’s Preface — “Ethnomusicologists are concerned with music anywhere in the world and with almost as many approaches to this music as there are scholars” — summarizes why there is such diversity. Well-trained teachers of world music courses can often bring such diversity together, stressing certain concepts and making comparisons that can accomplish stated course objectives. Accompanied by recorded materials, films, slides, and demonstrations, students should be able to gain an in-depth musical and cultural understanding of the nineteen geographic areas presented in Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction. Because the scholars writing these chapters are describing the areas they know best, they have endeavored to be as complete and detailed as possible within the page limitations for each chapter. For students dealing with reading assignments from the textbook, however, it might be understandably difficult to filter and digest all the facts and concepts presented. Having taught semester courses entitled “Music Cultures of the World I and II” for over twenty years, using May’s textbook since it first became available in 1981, I became aware of the need for a guide to the wealth of information so that students would not be overwhelmed in preparing for their exams. Responding to repeated suggestions from students that I write a study guide for the book, I decided to do so, combining that task with the “Seminar in Ethnomusicology” in the Spring Semester of 1988. My chosen topic, “world music for music educators,” was appropriate for the graduate students in the seminar, representing ethnomusicology, historical musicology, music theory, music education, and folklore.
For fifteen weeks six graduate students (Laurie Arizumi, Merri Belland, Karen Brooks, Jose Lezcano, John Rivest, and Tone Takahashi) and I joined forces to arrive at the instructional design logic and format for a study guide and workbook to accompany Elizabeth May’s important textbook. Weekly projects were completed by the students for individual chapters and portions of chapters. These were discussed and analyzed by members of the seminar. Following their “pilot study” tryouts by a target student audience, all the materials were either edited, rewritten, or completely written by me. Since their inception they have been used and critiqued by over a thousand students between 1988 and 1992. Additionally, most of the chapters for the Study Guide & Workbook have been sent to the original authors of Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction for their review and critiques.