Learning from unique music traditions

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Students engaged in speaker learning workshop

The founder and artistic director of Waterloo Region Mass Choir led a dynamic gospel music workshop for students at Conrad Grebel University College on Monday, January 27. Darren Hamilton is an accomplished musician and is experienced as a vocalist, arranger, songwriter, and music educator. He joined students from the Chapel Choir and Grebel’s Worship Practicum course to discuss the African American gospel tradition. Professor Kate Steiner, who teaches music at Grebel said “the Chapel Choir has been working on learning music from various traditions, not just that which comes from Western Europe.” She added that “the African American gospel tradition is a style that is difficult to pick up on without experience in the

Students singing
tradition.” This workshop with Hamilton gave students better context for the pieces that they are singing.

Learning orally is also a part of this gospel tradition and the Chapel Choir enjoyed learning several songs by rote. Kate explained that Hamilton’s workshop was important for musicianship skill as well as on a social justice level. She commented that this music “developed out of a culture that has experienced extreme trauma and oppression. Yet, it is music that is nonetheless hopeful and cries out for justice for all people.”