Ethnomusicology has potent tools to create this ‘mirror’ for African – American students. It is time for the discipline of ethnomusicology, with its robust body of ethnographic research, to be put into action to fill the need for a culturally reflective music curriculum for these students. In a time in American education where other subject areas are sealed by the demands of the common core curriculum and standardized tests, music and the other arts are subjects for which teachers can choose or create the curricula they teach. Music education provides an open door through which Black students can receive consistent, step by step, engaging and powerful teaching about their culture.
The Ethnomusicology in Action Curriculum Project uses the Botswanan Cultural Studies curriculum model, Cunningham's ethnomusicology thesis The Black Power Classroom, based on her Fulbright research, her PhD research in Afro-American Studies/ethnomusicology (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and draws from her eighteen years of music education curriculum design and instructional techniques. These are coupled with research in culturally responsive education for African American children by scholars like Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings (University of Wisconsin) and Dr. Janice Hale, the late Founder of the Institute of the Study of the African American Child (Wayne State University), to offer professional development for music educators that trains them to use Black traditional music as a tool for cultural education and empowerment for their African – American students.
Training and equipping music educators to teach traditional Black culture, particular African cultures as African American heritage, is an effective strategy for reaching our children. The music teacher at a school teaches most students in all grades over a long period of time. Each music educator teaches an average of two hundred students per year over a career span of twenty years or more. Therefore, investing in just one music educator who participates as an EACP fellow impacts 4,000 African – American students over twenty years. The reach of training just ten music educator fellows per year, over a period of twenty years is phenomenal: 200 music educators impacting 40,000 Black children (or more).