Learning and Teaching Musical Heritage in Immigrant Chicago
Joseph Maurer

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Chicago

Primary Discipline

This project explains the role that out-of-school music learning programs play in the formation of immigrant and 2nd-generation youth as members of social, ethnic, and artistic communities. Drawing on participant observation and interviews with students, teachers, parents, and nonprofit administrators in Chicago, it describes how these music programs function as discursive pedagogical spaces within which young Chicagoans construct ideas and beliefs about aesthetics, heritage, community belonging, and their own subjectivity. This project addresses some of the lacunae between musicology and education studies, but it also proposes approaches to understanding out-of-school music learning that may be relevant to teachers, administrators, policymakers, and funders in the arts learning sector. My qualitative data comes from observation, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews at three Chicago-based music learning programs. Each of these organizations?the Chicago Mariachi Project, HANA Center, and Sones de México Ensemble?is grounded in a particular Chicago immigrant context, and each brings a different pedagogical and organizational approach to their youth education work. By rigorously combining methods and theory drawn from ethnomusicology, education, sociology, and American/Ethnic studies, this project builds a comprehensive understanding of a crucial unexplored space of immigrant and children-of-immigrant youth development. This understanding will add new dimensions to studies of immigration in these fields as well as explain how changes in public and nonprofit arts education in the 21st century are interacting with recent immigration trends to shape urban youth development.
About Joseph Maurer
Joe Maurer is a doctoral candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. His current research examines the social and structural dynamics of several Chicago-based youth music programs that teach mariachi, p'ungmul, and Mexican sones. His other research projects focus on U.S.-based political music and New England maritime music revivalism. Joe's teaching encourages undergraduates to engage critically with aural, social, and cultural aspects of American and world music traditions. In the nonprofit sector, he does research, strategic planning, and program evaluation for Chicago arts education organizations. Prior to his doctoral studies, Joe worked with high school students as a college access counselor in both in-school and nonprofit contexts in Providence, RI and Boston, MA. He earned a BA in Public Policy, Education Studies, and Music from Brown University.

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