In January 2021, Music Together Worldwide CEO Susan Darrow was invited to be a part of the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association (ECMMA), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee (DEI). ECMMA is a national nonprofit organization that brings together early childhood music and movement educators, teacher trainers, and researchers from many different teaching philosophies, methods, and cultural backgrounds. At their 2021 convention earlier this summer, Susan led a panel discussion about making the early childhood music classroom a more diverse and inclusive space for all families.
During the session, which was attended by dozens of convention-goers, Susan and the other members of the DEI Committee talked about the importance of representation in music, how to avoid unintentional cultural appropriation, and how to evaluate the songs they are teaching against our updated understanding of diversity, and with the extensive information on song history, origin, and cultural impact that’s now readily available. Susan shared, “I’ve been teaching Music Together since 1993 and, like many music educators, I recently realized it was time to take a fresh look at the songs we are teaching to make sure there’s nothing objectionable about them, and they still represent a broad range of music traditions, styles, cultures, and genres. I love that there’s real energy out there now on how to make the music classroom more inclusive for all families.”
Susan brought her unique perspective to the topic of song choice in early childhood learning settings. Under her leadership, in 2018, Music Together formed the industry-leading Music Together Song Advisory Board, a panel of ethnomusicologists, music historians, and culture-bearers, who are leading a complete and ongoing evaluation of the songs in our curriculum. (Read more about the work of the Song Advisory Board.) According to Susan, “Our experience working with the Song Advisory Board has been eye-opening, and we are learning so much. That’s a big part of why I wanted to be here today: This kind of research is what needs to happen in music education across the board. Wouldn’t it be great if there were one reliable resource for music teachers to turn to for guidance as to what songs to teach? I’m proud that Music Together is leading the way, and more than happy to share what we’ve learned in hopes that it inspires others. I do believe that we can make a difference. After all, it’s us—the music teachers, the people in the classroom—we’re the ones who can drive change.”