Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Rocking in the Midwest: Transmitting and Performing Social Class in Rock Music Education

Project description

Exploring how social class is taught and learned in private rock music education

The EU-funded ClassRockED project is an innovative study of how class ideals and consciousness are transmitted through rock music education in private, for-profit rock schools. While there is a growing body of scholarly literature on popular music education, few research studies to date have examined private or for-profit music schools, despite their global prevalence. The research will be carried out using a blend of face-to-face and online methods. ClassRockED takes a multidisciplinary approach, employing tools and perspectives from anthropology and ethnomusicology, cultural sociology, ethnography, gesture studies, sociology of music and music education research. The goal is to gain an in-depth understanding of how class meanings, symbols and ideals are performed and passed on in the process of teaching music.


‘Rocking in the Midwest: Transmitting and Performing Social Class in Rock Music Education’ is an innovative and timely project. It seeks to examine the ways in which ideals and markers of social class are transmitted, negotiated and performed within a unique setting – that of a rock music school in the US Midwest. By examining a traditionally white working-class and often patriarchal musical genre within a decidedly middle-class context – a private school, whose costs and institutional structure present a barrier to access for lower-income students – it seeks to shine a light on the shifting production of class within a region whose working-class-ness has at times been considered both problematic and emblematic of conflicted class, race and gender relations in the post-industrial United States.

This research understands music education and performance as a unique site of the construction and negotiation of class consciousness and identities. It will consider how class-coded meanings and narratives are attached to visual and sonic symbols within rock education and performance. These symbols include musical instruments, sounds, language, gestures and ideals of musicianship and performance. It will examine how these symbols are transmitted, embodied and performed within the context of the school’s rehearsals, lessons and showcase performances, with a particular eye to the role of the gendered body in processes of teaching, learning, listening and music-making. This project takes a unique and innovative approach, marrying anthropological and ethnomusicological methods and modes of investigation with theoretical and analytical perspectives from cultural sociology and gesture studies, drawing as well on existing knowledge and research within music education, sociology of music and the emerging field of popular music education, in order to inform a truly interdisciplinary interrogation of social class and music education in the twenty-first century American Midwest.



Net EU contribution
€ 196 590,72
9 Dublin

See on map

Ireland Eastern and Midland Dublin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00