Faculty of Music

Ruth Wright

ruth wrightIf you think popular music is the lower class cousin of classical, then you may be interested to learn about the gentrification of pop idioms. You may also be fascinated to hear about how pop music can drive social change. And if that is the case, you’ll want to know more about the research of Ruth Wright, chair of the music education department at Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Wright, chair of the Department of Music Education, looks at music education in context of societies and how they organize themselves. “I examine how issues such as social structure, culture and identity are affected by music education.”

Her research has been recognized as part of a grant from the Norwegian Research Council to Petter Dyndahl at Hedmark University College in southeast Norway. Sidsel Karlsen and Ylva Hofvander Trulsson are also part of the team. As co-investigator, Wright will spend six months over the next three years to work with the team on musical gentrification and socio-cultural diversities.

“It is three research projects in one,” said Wright. “The first examines how popular music affects people in Norwegian society. The second looks at how government support affects country music festivals.  The third is about how aspiring professional musicians acquire their abilities and entrepreneurship.”

In the first part of the project, the team will map the “dynamic topography of musical omnivorousness and gentrification of popular music in music education and research.”

The second part will explore the country music festival as an intersection of cultural identity for social class, age, gender and sexuality. The third part will look at rising immigrant musicians and issues of music education.

The expected outcome of the research is to provide relevant knowledge about the aesthetic and cultural premises for shaping society and social development, as well as how educational strategies and methods may improve and ensure integration and inclusion in society.

The research will be of interest to teachers, students and policy makers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with scholars I respect highly to investigate issues I’m interested in,” said Wright. “I’m author of one of only a few books on the interfaces between sociology and music education. We will be looking at how pop music became gentrified and socially acceptable and how some of its followers have become socially included while other forms are still taboo and followers isolated.”
She said Hedmark University graduate students will participate in the study. “Their grad students are inspirational. They have fine standards of scholarship in Scandinavia. I’m looking forward to learning more about their research and Scandinavian issues in 21st century music in society.

“I also want to forge some institutional partnerships and possibilities for student exchange at both graduate and undergraduate levels.”