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Kit Drummers and the Snowball Self: A socio-cultural-psychological perspective on identity and learning realisation

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This presentation explores and discusses the Snowball Self – a new model of identity and learning, rooted in a socio-cultural-psychological approach to the experiences and activities of being and becoming. The presenter is a drummer and teacher. Following research among members of his ‘tribe’, he presents accounts of what and how drummers do and are in a variety of contexts from taking lessons to performing in bands of all shapes and sizes. This session incorporates audio and video examples, drummer jokes and anecdotes from personal experience on the road and on stage with commentary from student and professional participant interviewees. Topics under discussion include ethnicity and cultural heritage, sex and gender, a broad view of enculturation, identities over time, and the chameleon-like shifts that drummers experience day-to-day in meta-identities and contextual identities. Drawing on work by Barrett (2011), Cole (1996), Green (2002), Waterman (1992, 2007) and Wenger (1998) the presenter calls upon educators and scholars to recognise the essential symbiosis of identity and learning when considering how we are who we are. While based on research among a particular group or ‘web’ of musicians, the Snowball Self, identity realisation and learning realisation are constructs that the researcher hopes will be useful to educators and scholars working in a range of fields and disciplines.

Gareth Dylan Smith is a lecturer, drum tutor and programme leader at London’s Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, and also teaches on the online MA in Music Education for Boston University. He writes for Rhythm magazine and recently contributed 24 articles about drummers to the Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. Gareth has written book chapters on percussion in the US middle school classroom, collaborative music learning in higher education, and on popular music in higher education. His first book I Drum, Therefore I Am: Being and becoming a drummer will be out this year. Gareth has presented research at conferences in the UK, Ireland, Egypt, Italy, China and the USA . He has been an invited lecturer at the University of London, University of Michigan, Columbia University, New York University, and University of Southern California. As a drummer Gareth has toured Europe and the USA with Irish Punk/folk band Neck, ‘1000 % Rock’ outfit the Eruptörs, and performed throughout the UK with singer/song-writers Gillian Glover, Mark Ruebery, Rachael Travers and guitarist/composer Stephen Wheel. He can frequently be found behind the drums at a show on London’s musical theatre fringe, or playing bodhrán in a local Irish seisiún. When not being scholarly or musical, Gareth likes running, cycling, wine, coffee and cakes. He invites you all to the conference he is chairing at the Institute on 23rd and 24th July this year: Rock and Roles: Philosophy and sociology of popular music education.

This talk is part of the Arts, Culture and Education series.

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