Introducing Gaelynn Lea

Fellow disability studies-and-music community, meet Gaelynn Lea.* She is a freelance musician, songwriter, and violin teacher who hails from Duluth, MN. She’s recently gained notoriety as the winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, a contest for “intimate video performances recorded at the desk of All Things Considered’s Bob Boilen.” Gaelynn’s submission won out of over 6,000 entries, and has been called “arresting” and “profoundly moving.” Gaelynn’s Tiny Desk concert puts her among the ranks of musicians such as Wilco, Natalie Merchant, Graham Nash, and Ben Folds! Watch here:

As it happens, Gaelynn has brittle bone disease. Because her body is small, she bows her violin like a cello. She uses a loop pedal to multiply her instrumental melodies, creating a rich textural fabric that undulates beneath her ethereal mezzo-soprano. As she explains, a live loop pedal is an ever-precarious choice: “Every time you start song, you could potentially screw the whole thing up.” Gaelynn seemingly had good access to music in public school; after aceing a music listening test in fifth grade, she began playing the violin with an orchestra teacher devoted to making adaptive accommodations. Gaelynn took a serious interest in Irish fiddle tunes in high school, and hasn’t stopped playing since. Now she’s a free-lance music teacher and performer.

In an NPR interview, worth a listen for her biographical and artistic reflections, Gaelynn speaks about the relationship between her disability and her music. Her submission video begins with herself out of the frame, a conscious artistic choice, as Gaelynn explains: “I didn’t necessarily want my disability to be the very first impression people had. It’s not because I’m ashamed of it in any way, but I really wanted my music to be judged.” We hear you, Gaelynn.

*Thanks to David Bashwiner (University of New Mexico) for drawing my attention to Gaelynn’s work.

 

CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum at AMS/SMT in Vancouver

CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum
Special session of the AMS and SMT groups on Music and Disability, AMS and SMT Joint Conference in Vancouver, 3–6 November 2016

The Oxford Handbook on Music and Disability Studies (2015) demonstrates how disability studies is a lens to understand music and cultural studies throughout music history, and how music and disability informs analyses of music. The book brings music and disability studies to a wider audience of music scholarship, and many contributors have entertained questions from peers who wish to bring music and disability into general music courses.

The AMS Study Group and SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability will sponsor a special session on music pedagogy and disability at the 2016 joint conference in Vancouver. We seek proposals on new ways to integrate music and disability as a common perspective within the standard core curriculum in music history and music theory, rather than relegate music and disability to special topics and seminar courses. We seek presentations from colleagues who already utilize this perspective in their routine teaching responsibilities, and we welcome submissions from younger scholars who would like to workshop their ideas for syllabi. We encourage submissions in a variety of formats, including duo presentations, short position papers, longer research papers, workshops, interviews, demonstrations, testimonials, videos, Skype presentations, surveys, and more.

Proposals should clearly describe (1) the argument you will make or the information you will convey, (2) the format you will use, and (3) the estimated duration of your presentation. Please limit proposals to 250 words. Send proposals to disability.and.music@gmail.com no later than 4 April 2016. Submissions (with identifying information removed) will be read by the organizers and chairs of the AMS and SMT music and disability study group and interest group: Samantha Bassler and Bruce Quaglia.

On Diagnosis and Invisible Illness

The following link is shared with permission from the author, Katherine Meizel, who is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Katherine recently gave a paper at AMS Louisville (2015) on music and deafness, “Two Voices: Singers in the Hearing/ Deaf Borderlands”, and is the author of  Idolized: Music, Media, and Identity in American Idol. In the article linked below, Katherine writes for Scope, the Stanford medical blog, about her experience obtaining diagnoses of invisible illnesses. Although this is not a musical article, it furthers important work in disability activism, and disability awareness, which are important goals of the Music and Disability Study Group and the Society for Music Theory Interest Group.

“Belief brings relief — and sadness — after decades of doubt”

News from the AMS Music and Disability Study Group

Greetings and Happy New Year!

I write to share some news from the AMS Music and Disability Study Group (MSDG), especially to those who weren’t able to attend AMS Louisville and our events there.

Firstly, as of 2016, I (Samantha Bassler) am now the chair of the study group. Jeannette DiBernardo Jones continues as the chair of the ad-hoc committee on accessibility and as our accessibility liaison with the AMS, and Michael Accinno has graciously agreed to serve as the social media officer. He and I will be updating the blog together this year, and next year he will take over the main duties.

Secondly, the MSDG introduced by-laws at our November 2015 meeting at the annual AMS conference. The By-Laws are available online here — DisMusBylaws — and we will also post another link that is easily accessible from the main page. We will leave them up for every member to review, and then conduct a vote at the AMS meeting in 2016 to either adopt or amend the by-laws. We will also provide a way for members who cannot attend to submit their vote online.

Thirdly, the MSDG has a very successful AMS conference this past year, with a well-attended panel on accessibility (many thanks to our panelists: Daniel Barolsky, William Cheng, James Deaville, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Meghan Schrader), a panel on music and deafness (congratulations to Jeannette DiBernardo Jones, Anabel Maher, Jessica Holmes, and Katherine Meizel), and a lively breakfast business meeting. At the meeting, we discussed the new appointed officers, as well as the work accomplished in 2014-2015, which included the updated accessibility guidelines for the AMS, the publication of the Oxford Handbook on Music and Disability Studies, and new ventures in music and disability pedagogy.

On the topic of pedagogy, the MSDG is working closely with the Society for Music Theory Interest Group on Music and Disability (chair, Bruce Quaglia) to produce a panel on music, disability, and pedagogy for the AMS/SMT 2016. A full announcement and a CFP will be available on this web site and circulated widely in the next few weeks.

Please continue to check the blog regularly, and send myself (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) any ideas for our on-going guest blog series on projects in music and disability studies.

Very best wishes, Samantha Bassler

Chair, AMS Study Group on Music and Disability Studies

Agenda and Program for the Music and Disability Study Group events at AMS 2015

Greetings! The annual AMS conference is nearly upon us, and it promises to be a stimulating and exciting event. Please find attached the program for the evening session, “What is Accessible Musicology?” (on Thursday, 12 November, from 8–11pm), and the agenda for the business meeting (on Saturday, 14 November, from 7:30–8:45am).

Safe travels to everyone attending the conference, and we will see you in Louisville!

2015 Program and Business Meeting Agenda

Music and Disability Events at AMS in Louisville,

The Music and Disability Study Group (MDSG) is pleased to announce the following papers and meetings at the American Musicological Society annual meeting in Louisville (12–15 November), which will be of interest to scholars of music and disability.

  1. The MDSG is sponsoring a session, “What Is Accessible Musicology?”, which will be held during the Thursday evening session, from 811pm in the Laffoon room. In this session, musicologists will present their unique perspectives on the intersections between disability, accessibility, and musicology.
    • James Deaville (Carleton University): “A Matter of Class? Musicology and Us”
    • William Cheng (Dartmouth College): “Sounding Good: Musicology, Rhetoric, and Repair”
    • Meghan Schrader (University of New Hampshire): “Tasting the Forbidden Fruit: Verbal Learners and the Construction of New Music Pedagogy at the Crossroads of Music History and Theory”
    • Daniel Barolsky (Beloit College): “Excluding Audiences: The Pedagogy of Inclusive Listening”
    • Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin): “Public Musicology as Accessible Musicology: Reflections on The Avid Listener’s First Year”
  2. The MDSG business meeting will be held on the Saturday morning of the conference, from 7:30-8:45am (McCreary Room). An agenda will be posted prior to the start of the conference. Please e-mail Samantha (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) if you have an item of business for the meeting.
  3. There are a number of other sessions and panels featured on the AMS program, which pertain to music and disability studies.
  • During the Thursday afternoon session (Breathitt Room, 2-5pm), there will be a panel, “Listening beyond Hearing: Music and Deafness,” chaired by Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin), and featuring the following papers:
    • Anabel Maler (University of Chicago), “Music and the Deaf Experience in Nineteenth-Century America”
    • Jessica Holmes (McGill University), “‘How to Truly Listen’? Resisting an Idealized Sense of the Deaf Body”
    • Katherine Meizel (Bowling Green State University), “Two Voices: Singers in the Hearing/ Deaf Borderlands”
    • Jeannette Jones (Boston University), “‘Hearing Deafly’: Reshaping the Geography of Sound in the Body”
  • On the Friday afternoon of the conference, J. Griffith Rollefson (University College Cork, National University of Ireland) will present a paper entitled, “‘Got a Freaky, Freaky, Freaky, Freaky Flow’: Theorizing ‘Illness’ in Hip Hop” (2-3:30pm, Coombs Chandler Room).
  • During the evening session on the Saturday of the conference (Breathitt Room, 7:30-9:30pm), the Ludomusicology Study Group Inaugural Meeting will include a paper by Dana Plank-Blasko (Ohio State University), entitled “Paging Dr. Mario: Physical Impairment, Illness, and Disability in the Video Game Soundscape”.

Please e-mail Samantha (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) to publicize any other details about music and disability events at AMS.

DISMUS at SMT St. Louis

The DISMUS interest group will meet on Saturday Noon – 2 p.m. at the Society for Music Theory 2015 annual meeting in St. Louis. In the first hour, we will have our business meeting, including briefings on current projects and time to develop new collaborations and proposals. In the second hour, we will discuss Chapter 2 “Dismodernism Reconsidered” from Lennard Davis‘s The End of Normal.

End of NormalWe issue an open call for respondents, who will prepare a 5-minute response that engages Davis’s dismodernism essay from their own individual perspective. Come one, come all! We invite you to volunteer to give a short response, or simply to read this provocative essay and contribute to the discussion on Saturday October 31. Register your participation or direct questions to Jennifer Iverson (jennifer-iverson -at- uiowa.edu) and Bruce Quaglia (bruce.quaglia -at- gmail.com).