Robert "Reebee" Garofalo

UMass Boston
Professor Emeritus
Greater Boston Area

Reebee Garofalo is professor emeritus at UMass Boston. His most recent book is Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA. He is a member of the Organizing Committee for the HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands (honkfest,org) and a snare drummer for the Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band (slsaps.org).


Abstract:"Not Your Parents' Marching Bands: 'HONK! Pedagogy' and Music Education"

The HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands (honkfest.org) is an independent, grassroots, non-commercial festival originally organized in Somerville, Massachusetts, which has since spread to other major cities across the United States. It is a colorful spectacle of loud, acoustic, mobile bands, which can often be seen parading with gigantic puppets, creative bikers, dancers, jugglers, hoopers, flag twirlers, and stilt walkers, and are often aligned with unions, activist organizations, and community groups. HONK! represents one visible tip of a substantial urban underground of alternative street bands that encompasses large parts of the globe. It is part of a movement that values inclusion, mobility, community, creativity, fun, feeling, chaos, anarchy, and spectacle.

Ironically, the deep history of HONK! derives from the role of military brass and drums in colonial conquest and religious conversion. As empires crumbled, these military and religious ensembles gave rise to community-based civilian bands that incorporated local popular musics to create new transcultural hybrids. These bands took the tools of subjugation and repurposed them in the service of sonic self-expression, community building, and cultural development. The processes by which these bands operate provide an engaging alternative (or complement) to traditional music education. Grounded in contemporary theories and models of how music is taught and learned, in this paper I will explore the values and techniques, principles and practices that comprise what I call “HONK! pedagogy” and discuss their implications for educational policy generally and for music education in particular.

My Speakers Sessions

Friday, March 23

4:00pm EDT