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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ghanaian children’s music cultures : a video ethnography of selected singing games Addo, Akosua Obuo


This dissertation is a video ethnography of the enculturation and learning patterns among children on three school playgrounds in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa. It includes a) a discussion of colonialism on the redefinition of Ghanaian cultural identity in relation to play culture and the school curriculum b) performance-based case studies of six singing games, which comprise a description of sound and structural features and an explanation of cultural forms evident in singing games and c) a discussion on the role multimedia technologies (video, audio, and computer technologies) played in configuring my explanations and the explanations of all participants: children, teachers, and community members. Goldman-Segall' s "configurational validity" is the conceptual basis of this ethnography of Ghanaian children's music cultures. Configurational validity is a collaborative theory for analyzing video documents that expands on the premise that research is enriched by multiple points of view. Performance stylistic features of singing games emerge that reflected the marriage of two music cultures, indigenous Ghanaian and European. These include: speech tones, onomatopoeia, repetition and elaboration of recurring melodic cliches, portamentos or cadential drops, syncopations, triplets, melisma, polyrhythms, vocables, anacrusis, strophic, circle, lines, and partner formations. During play, the children were cultural interlocutors and recipients of adult cultural interlocution as they learned about accepted and shared social behavioural patterns, recreated their culture, and demonstrated the changing Ghanaian culture. The culture forms that emerged include community solidarity, inclusion, ways of exploring and expressing emotions, coordination, cooperation, gender relations, and linguistic code switching. For children in Ghana, knowledge is uninhibited shared constructions; knowledge grows when every one is involved; and knowledge is like "midwifery." I recommended a teaching style that encouraged the expression of children's wide ranging knowledge by a) offering opportunities for cooperative learning through group work, b) encouraging continuous assessment, c) establishing stronger ties with the adult community, and d) recognizing that the ability of children to hear, interpret, and compensate for dialectic differences in closely related languages can be used to enrich the language arts curriculum and also e) recognizing that the cultural studies curriculum can be enriched by the ability of children to re-create hybrid performing arts cultures.

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