Panel 5 (Roundtable) - The Collaboration between Universities and Ethnomusicology Students: Bringing Thai Music and Culture to Communities

Saturday, Nov. 14, 10:00 - 11:15 (US CST)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 23:00 – 00:15 Thailand

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Moderator: Eva Kwan (Taylor University)

Charlie Occhipinti (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)

Jeng Anuthep (Kent State University)

Alexis Hill (Kent State University)

Michael Emnett (Kent State University)

Taylor University is a small Christian liberal arts university located in a rural area in Indiana. I teach a world music course “Music and World Cultures” during every January Term (an intensive semester in January). I have built a tradition since I started teaching this course. I invite guest (s) musicians to come to work with my students. My students will learn about a particular culture, music and maybe some dances during an afternoon workshop. In the evening, students will perform what they learned in the workshop. Our guests will also perform or demonstrate music and dances from that particular culture. The focus of study of our workshop this January was “Thai Music and Culture”. Our guests in January 2020 were three ethnomusicology students and one undergraduate student from Kent State University. Actually, one of the guest musicians is an international student from Thailand. All four of them played in the Kent State University Thai Music Ensemble.

The roundtable discussion will include a presentation about the above workshop and the evening performance. During the presentation, photos and videos of that day will be shared. Discussion will be followed:

  • What did my guests (students from Kent State University) gain from this experience?
  • What could ethnomusicology graduate students do to help bringing Thai music and culture to other universities/colleges and communities?
  • What are some other ways for more collaboration between students who study Asian Culture, Thai, ethnomusicology, and universities/colleges/schools/communities?

Related Pre-Recorded Presentations for Panel 5

Supeena Insee Adler

Sorry, we cannot meet face-to-face: Teaching a Thai music ensemble during COVID-19

This paper presents preliminary research into adaptations of Thai music ensemble instruction at two American universities during COVID-19, UCLA and NIU. When the pandemic began in the U.S., class instruction needed to change swiftly. The first issue was the sudden loss of access to the musical instruments on campus, which was addressed by loaning personal instruments and ordering newly produced instruments from Thailand to be mailed to students. However, these were not the same instruments that students would have played under normal circumstances. Instructors adapted and developed new teaching pedagogies for distanced learning, including pre-recorded videos emulating an in-class experience of playing together with the instructor, an increased reliance on musical notation, and the inclusion of dance. While one instructor focused on one-on-one lessons and emulating and the ensemble experience, the other incorporated more informational presentations about history and cultural context. Distanced learning also created a new opportunity for guest artists from Thailand to visit the course.

Originally, the instructors had intended to collaborate on a joint performance of Thai ensembles to take place in Los Angeles at a privately-sponsored wai khruu (‘honoring the teachers’) ritual and at UCLA for a world music spring concert series. Because playing on-line together was not technically feasible, students from both ensembles recorded solo parts individually and these were combined into a Spring Concert edited video.


Kanjana Thepboriruk, Ph.D., (กัญจนา เทพบริรักษ์)
Chair, NIU Thai Studies Committee

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