Is becoming an ethnomusicologist right for me?

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What do ethnomusicologists do?

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How to become an Ethnomusicologist

Becoming an ethnomusicologist involves a combination of education, research experience, and a passion for exploring the cultural dimensions of music. Here are the general steps to pursue a career as an ethnomusicologist:

  • Educational Background: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Music, Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, or a related field. Some aspiring ethnomusicologists may choose to major in music with a focus on ethnomusicology.
  • Graduate Studies: Pursue a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Ethnomusicology or a closely related field. Advanced degrees are often essential for conducting in-depth research and securing academic positions. Look for programs with faculty who specialize in areas of interest.
  • Language Proficiency: Develop proficiency in relevant languages, especially if focusing on a specific geographic region or cultural group. Language skills are vital for effective fieldwork and communication with communities.
  • Research Skills: Develop strong research skills, including qualitative research methods, ethnographic fieldwork techniques, and data analysis. Consider participating in research projects or internships during graduate studies.
  • Fieldwork Experience: Gain hands-on fieldwork experience by conducting research in communities relevant to your interests. This experience is fundamental for understanding musical traditions in their cultural contexts.
  • Networking: Attend conferences, workshops, and events related to ethnomusicology. Network with professors, researchers, and fellow students to build connections within the field.
  • Publications and Presentations: Contribute to the academic discourse by presenting research findings at conferences and publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals. This enhances visibility within the academic community.
  • Teaching Experience: Gain teaching experience by serving as a teaching assistant, instructor, or lecturer. Teaching opportunities can be found within graduate programs or through adjunct positions.
  • Professional Memberships: Join professional organizations such as the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) to stay connected with the ethnomusicological community, access resources, and receive updates on conferences and publications.
  • Postdoctoral Research (Optional): Consider engaging in postdoctoral research to further develop expertise and gain additional experience before pursuing a tenure-track academic position.
  • Job Search: Begin the job search process, applying for positions in academia, research institutions, cultural organizations, or other settings aligned with your career goals.
  • Continued Professional Development: Stay current with developments in ethnomusicology, attend workshops, and engage in ongoing professional development to broaden your knowledge and expertise.
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Ethical Considerations: Develop a deep understanding of cultural sensitivity and ethical considerations in ethnomusicological research. Respect for the communities studied is paramount.

Helpful Resources
Ethnomusicologists can benefit from a variety of resources that support their research, teaching, and engagement with the broader ethnomusicological community. Here are some helpful resources for ethnomusicologists:

  • Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM): SEM is a leading organization in the field, providing resources, publications, conferences, and a community platform for ethnomusicologists. Membership offers access to journals, newsletters, and networking opportunities.
  • Ethnomusicology Review: An online, peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles, book reviews, and multimedia content related to ethnomusicology. It provides a platform for emerging scholars to share their research.
  • International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM): ICTM is a global organization dedicated to the study, practice, documentation, preservation, and dissemination of traditional music. It organizes conferences, publishes a yearbook, and provides valuable resources.
  • JSTOR: JSTOR is a digital library that provides access to a vast collection of academic journals, books, and primary sources. It is a valuable resource for ethnomusicological research.
  • WorldCat: A global catalog of library collections, WorldCat allows ethnomusicologists to locate books, recordings, and other materials available in libraries worldwide.
  • Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC): For researchers focusing on Caribbean music, dLOC provides access to a digital library of Caribbean cultural, historical, and research materials.
  • The Alan Lomax Archive: The archive preserves the work of folklorist Alan Lomax and includes a vast collection of field recordings, photographs, and documents related to traditional music from around the world.
  • Smithsonian Folkways Recordings: The Smithsonian Folkways collection offers a rich resource of traditional and contemporary music, including field recordings and educational materials.
  • Global Music Archive - Vanderbilt University: This archive provides access to audio and video recordings, as well as field notes, related to traditional music from various regions.
  • Digital Ethnomusicology: A platform dedicated to digital resources in ethnomusicology, offering links to databases, online projects, and multimedia content.
  • Ethnomusicology Online: An online journal and resource center that publishes articles, reviews, and multimedia content related to ethnomusicology.
  • Musicological Research: A platform for the publication of research articles, reviews, and conference reports in the field of musicology, including ethnomusicology.