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Spirituality and Music Education

Perspectives from Three Continents

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Edited By June Boyce-Tillman

This book is the product of a long journey by a company of academics and practitioners sharing a common interest, titled the Spirituality and Music Education Group (SAME). It started at the International Society for Music Education Conference in Bologna in 2008, with its first gathering in Birmingham in 2010. This book is a product of the various meetings of this group. Since the group formed, the notion of spirituality has been struggling to find a way through the dominant ideology of secularisation in the West to a place in a post-secularising world.

This book concentrates on examining this issue from the position of music educators on three continents. This process can be defined as both separate from as well as part of the dominant Christian and humanist traditions, whatever is appropriate in a particular culture. The book represents a fascinating array of lenses through which to examine the many and complex strands within the concept of spirituality.

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10 The Melting Pot of Cultural and Religious Boundaries: Expressions of Spirituality and Musicality at a Malawian HIV/AIDS Support Group (Grant Nthala)

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GRANT NTHALA

10 The Melting Pot of Cultural and Religious Boundaries: Expressions of Spirituality and Musicality at a Malawian HIV/AIDS Support Group

Introduction

This chapter analyses the disintegration of cultural and religious boundaries at a Malawian support group, the Namasalima HIV/AIDS support group, in order to demonstrate how individuals are capable of expressing themselves spiritually and musically in the absence of such barriers. The chapter presents a philosophical investigation into the support group’s behaviour and interpersonal relationships on the one hand, and the interpretation and application of spirituality and religion on the other, in order to emphasise this breakdown of cultural and religious boundaries for the enhanced expressions of spirituality and musicality and the creation of a new identity among the members. Composed of individuals living with HIV, the support group benefits immensely from this new identity created through collective efforts. In that regard, Susan Hanser (1999 p. 11) observes that people who are unable to process painful material find a way to access emotions by engaging in music experiences which bring out spontaneous nonverbal expression. This statement is particularly relevant in the context of HIV/AIDS where issues of hope building through community support are critical and music participation becomes one fundamental means to serve that purpose.

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