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

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


‘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.
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9 Dublin


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 196 590,72

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 844238


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    23 September 2019

  • End date

    22 September 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 196 590,72

  • EU contribution

    € 196 590,72

Coordinated by: