Music education, comprehensive musicality and cultural diversity

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Thelma Sydenstricker Alvares, coordinator
Sergio Alvares, coordinator
Paulo Duarte Amarante, external member (FIOCRUZ / ENSP / LAPS)
João Miguel Bellard Freire, professor
Jeanine Bogaert, external member (FIOCRUZ / High School)
João Gomes, student (graduating)
Michele Senra, student (master’s degree)
Raquel Lyrio, student (master’s degree)
Reinaldo Souza, student (master’s degree)


This research group is the result of the maturation of the academic production developed both by teachers and students of the Graduate Program of the School of Music, as well as by external researchers who have been collaborating with our work in recent years. Recently, some researchers from this group have written the book Musical Education in Diversity: Building a Look of Human Recognition and Social Equity in Education, that discusses the interaction between music, education, and the different expressions of our country’s cultural diversity, focusing on but not as a theme music education of groups in vulnerability and social risk, as well as the comprehensiveness of the forms of production, transmission and acquisition of musical knowledge eminent of the ethnographic diversity of the musical experiences in Brazil.

Music Education in Diversity (Alvares, 2012) assumes that the human being has a complex nature, inherent in his tendency to differentiate himself from others. This includes psychic suffering, sensory, physical, intellectual disability, medical conditions, specific situations of social isolation (e. g. prisons, house of passage and shelters) as well as religious, cultural, gender, ethnic, sexual, economic, that is, several aspects that characterize human beings. However, it is important to emphasize that these differences are not unrelated to a social dynamic that may disadvantage or favor certain social groups. According to Cambria (2008), differences are often linked to, or even consequences of, asymmetric relations of power that generate social inequality.

Propomos, aqui, o conceito de Educação Musical na Diversidade que se contrapõe às propostas educacionais da contemporaneidade, em sua maioria calcadas na inclusão. Por mais que o discurso da inclusão pretenda tornar a educação um espaço que acolha a todos, isto não ocorre na prática. A Educação Musical na Diversidade se baseia no reconhecimento e respeito pelas mais diferentes situações e características humanas, sejam estas deficiências ou não. Buscamos a equidade, a validação das diferenças humanas através de um reconhecimento respeitoso às nossas peculiaridades, tanto individuais, quanto de grupos específicos. Acreditamos também que a produção do conhecimento envolva a indissociabilidade entre ensino, pesquisa e extensão o que caracteriza a proposta deste grupo.

We propose, here, the concept of Music Education in Diversity, that is opposed to the educational proposals of contemporaneity, mostly based on inclusion. Although the discourse of inclusion aims to make education a space that welcomes all, this does not occur in practice. Music Education in Diversity is based on the recognition and respect for the most different human situations and characteristics, being these deficiencies or not. We seek equity, the validation of human differences through a respectful recognition of our peculiarities, both individual and specific groups. We also believe that the production of knowledge involves the indissociability between teaching, research and extension that characterizes the proposal of this group.

Relatively to musical education, we start with a transversal concept entitled Comprehensive Musicality (Alvares, 2015), that proposes a transdisciplinarity in the processes of teaching and learning of music. We identified that music, as an area of ​​knowledge, fragmented into disciplines in the course of its inclusion in formal education. Although such fragmentation may be appropriate to a specialized deepening, this educational process often results in a formation dissociated from integral knowledge. From the teaching practice, the educator rebuilds, in the classroom, the reunification of that knowledge that has been taught in a fragmented way. In the informal processes of musical education, musical knowledge is usually experienced and developed in a more integrated way. From a transdisciplinarity in the interpretative (singing, playing, improvising, etc.), creative (composing, arranging, orchestrating, etc.) and sensorial / auditory practices (appreciation, identification, historical-social-critical aspects, etc.) the proposal of Comprehensive Musicality fosters a comprehensive, consubstantial and unified musical experience. We seek a unity of musical knowledge in the ethnographic diversity of musical practices.

Atualmente as políticas recentes de Saúde e Educação do Brasil indicam a busca de uma ampliação de ações que valorizem a diversidade de manifestações culturais, artísticas e a produção de cultura como meio de promoção de saúde mental (BRASIL, 2005; BRASIL, 2010). Acreditamos que a UFRJ também caminha nesta direção. Recentemente, o Fórum de Ciência e Cultura elaborou, junto à comunidade acadêmica, uma Política Cultural, Artística e de Difusão Científico-Cultural para a Universidade que visa tanto a valorização como a interação entre as múltiplas formas de conhecimento, expressão artística e cultural buscando uma aproximação da comunidade acadêmica com a sociedade. Isto fica claro com a iniciativa do Fórum em realizar, em julho de 2015, o primeiro Festival Interuniversitário de Cultura; uma iniciativa das universidades públicas do Estado do Rio de Janeiro em buscar um diálogo com a cidade e com suas múltiplas expressões artísticas e culturais. Alguns projetos de docentes deste grupo, vinculados tanto a atividades de pesquisa como de extensão e ensino, fizeram parte da programação do evento.

Currently, recent Brazilian Health and Education policies indicate the search for an expansion of actions that value the diversity of cultural and artistic manifestations and the production of culture as a means of promoting mental health (BRASIL, 2005; BRASIL, 2010). We believe that UFRJ is also moving in this direction. Recently, the Science and Culture Forum has developed, together with the academic community, a Cultural, Artistic and Scientific-Cultural Diffusion Policy for the University that aims at both enhancement and interaction between the multiple forms of knowledge, artistic and cultural expression seeking a the academic community with society. This is clear from the Forum’s initiative to hold, in July 2015, the first Interuniversity Culture Festival; an initiative of the public universities of the State of Rio de Janeiro in seeking a dialogue with the city and with its multiple artistic and cultural expressions. Some projects of teachers of this group, linked to research activities as well as extension and teaching, were part of the program of the event.


The process of cultural devaluation and social exclusion are part of the reality lived by individuals who are discriminated or stigmatized, whether for racial, ethnic, sexual, religious or cultural reasons, because they are in an extreme situation of poverty, because they are subject in psychic suffering, with some type of disability, or by the combination of these factors. We believe that the public university has an ethical and social responsibility to generate critical knowledge that contributes to social transformation. For this, it is important to dialogue with expressions of cultural diversity, a striking feature of Brazil, in order to promote a musical education that contributes to this social transformation.

General goal

Develop research in music education, which will be associated with extension and teaching projects, based on dialogue between music, education and expressions of cultural diversity.

Specific goals

  1. Increase academic participation in movements and actions aimed at the insertion of discriminated individuals or groups, or with restricted access to the University, either by cultural, religious, gender, ethnic, sexual or economic differences or because they are persons suffering from psychic suffering, with disabilities sensory, physical, intellectual, medical or because they are in specific conditions of social isolation (prisons, house of passage and shelters).
  2. Generate an interaction between graduate students and undergraduate students in research and extension projects, as well as in teaching.
  3. To contribute to the formation of musical educators able to work with the expressions of the cultural diversity of our country.
  4. To seek the University’s engagement with diverse expressions of cultural diversity through research, extension and teaching in order to produce knowledge that contributes to a democratic musical education.

Theoretical guides

We use theoretical guides because this group has been working together and using some theoretical foundations common in their production that they become the guiding principles of the group. However, we know that as the group progresses in its work, there will be a natural tendency to add and change theoretical foundations:

  1. The pedagogy advocated by Paulo Freire (1987, 1997, 2007, 2001) in which the individual should be the subject of his education and not the object of it. The importance of the active participation of the student in his educational process as a means to foment the formation of critical subjects is emphasized. Education is seen as a process of strengthening the individual that seeks its social insertion through the affirmation of their differences / diversity.
  2. Goffman’s (2012, 2008) contribution both to his work in total institutions and to his production concerning three types of stigma: 1. abominations of the body 2. the guilt of individual character 3. tribal stigmas of race, nation and religion.
  3. The concept of social representation of Moscovici (2010) that refers to the study and the impact of symbolic exchanges that occur in our social environments and that are present in interpersonal relationships contributing to the creation of the culture of a social group.
  4. Deinstitutionalization as deconstruction and overcoming of an archaic model centered on the concept of disease as lack and error and as creation of concrete possibilities of sociability and subjectivity (Amarante, 2011). Deinstitutionalization involves both the patient’s role in his healing process and the appreciation of his acquired competence with his own experience (Venturini, 2010).
  5. This axis deals with the relationship between music and social identity using fundamentals of sociology, psychology and anthropology of music and ethnomusicology. (Hargreaves, 2004; Abeles et al., 1994; Radoly ET BOYLE, 1988; Hodges, 1999; Elliott, 1995; Hoffer, 1992). One of the primary social functions of music lies in instituting and developing the individual’s sense of identity. The concept of musical identity allows us to look at the wide and varied interactions between music and the individual.
  6. The theory of self-determination (ARAÚJO, 2009; FLEITH & ALENCAR, 2010) that holds that the human being has an innate propensity for learning and the environment strengthens or weakens this propensity.
  7. Recent bibliography referring to the policies and social movements of Education, Health and Culture.
  8. Ideas of Saviani (2010) that discuss the relation between the economic order and Education indicating that the current Education is based on social exclusion. The individual pursues a diversified qualification in order to become employable in a saturated market.
  9. The proposals for reunification of fragmented knowledge, pertinent to the concept of Comprehensive Musicality proposed by Alvares (2015), through transdisciplinarity in the processes of musical education.


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Music education, comprehensive musicality and cultural diversity in the Directory of Research Groups of CNPq