International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

ICTM Study Group on Music, Education and Social Inclusion

Mission Statement

Music education and music educational institutions - as products of the society and culture in which they are created and function - preserve, maintain, transmit and reproduce socio-cultural values and inequalities embedded in their very structures, forms, discourses and content through curricula, learning materials, teaching methods and so on.

We acknowledge that historically excluded and/or marginalized groups such as women and girls; ethnic, racial, linguistic and religious minorities; indigenous communities; the poor; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQIA individuals; vulnerabilities including those of low class/caste and those excluded from citizenship have systematically been un- or under-represented in formal education. This reflects wider discriminatory practices at the societal level that in turn are perpetuated and transmitted in educational institutions, which as such continue to shape society at large.

Furthermore, in a number of societies globally, academic discourse and institutions continue to be shaped by and use methods inherited from European and North American music education systems, creating further layers of socio-cultural exclusions and discriminations perpetuated through their educational institutions.

The Study Group is likewise informed by publications and guidelines produced by high-level international organizations, specifically:

• UNESCO’s Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education of 2009, which advanced the need to reform current approaches to support and welcome diversity in order to develop more inclusive societies by taking a holistic approach to education reform, and which also stressed the importance of developing effective strategies for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

• The United Nations’ 2016 Report on the World Social Situation, Leaving no one behind: the imperative of inclusive development, which highlighted how no single actor or set of policies could singlehandedly promote social inclusion, and which drew attention to the importance of developing and promoting inclusive institutions where exclusionary attitudes are challenged in order to respond to the call to leave no one behind.

In line with ICTM acting as a ‘bond among peoples of different cultures and thus contribut(ing) to the peace of humankind’, the MESI (Music, Education and Social Inclusion) Study Group proposes to serve as the place where these calls for action are addressed and discussed in the study of music and transmission practices in music educational settings at all levels. Given that music education and social inclusion are critical concerns for ethnomusicology, the MESI Study Group responds to the need for such discussions within the ICTM, giving specific focus to these issues within music educational settings and institutions.

The main aim of the Study Group is to study, practice, uncover, produce, document and disseminate good practices in music education and transmission that can foster and promote social inclusion. In addition, it aims to engage in constructive discussions around systems-level approaches in music, education and related practices that can contribute to increased social inclusion, both in education and in global society at large.

We believe the combination of the two approaches – a bottom-up approach in studying and uncovering good practices in music education and transmission, and a top-down approach in analyzing and constructively interrogating/examining music education structures and institutions – will lead to significant and actionable results for promoting and advancing social inclusion in the fields of music education and ethnomusicology.

Interim Steering Committee

  • Chair: Sara Selleri (SOAS, University of London, UK)
  • Vice-Chair: Marie Agatha Ozah (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria)
  • Secretary: James Nissen (University of Manchester, UK)
  • Vice-Secretary: Elaine Sandoval (Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA)
  • Adviser: Keith Howard (ICTM UK Liaison Officer)

Other members:

  • Gillian Howell (Queensland Conservatorium, Australia)
  • Francis Ward (Dublin City University, Ireland)
  • Huib Schippers (Smithsonian Folkways, Washington, USA) – shadow member


MESI Group Facebook Page:

Call for Papers: 1st Official Symposium of the MESI (Music, Education and Social Inclusion) ICTM Study Group

The MESI Study Group, recently approved by the Executive Board of the ICTM, will be holding its 1st Official Symposium (as an ICTM SG) jointly with ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology at the Central Conservatoire of Music in Beijing, China, from 7-10 July 2018.

Conference Report: 1st Symposium of the MESI (Music, Education and Social Inclusion) Study Group (pre-ICTM SG approval)

The MESI symposium held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK, on 20-21 July 2017 was organized by PhD student Sara Selleri, Prof. Keith Howard and PhD student James Nissen.