School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


George H. McDow


Kenya, education, culture, children, music, Africa


Education | Music


In Kenya today, music at all levels includes both Kenyan music and Western music. The inclusion of Western music in the Kenyan curriculum began when Britain made Kenya a colony. Due to certain circumstances after Kenya became independent, Western music continued to be taught in the schools. This research addresses the question “is the inclusion of Western music in the curriculum today a conscious choice or a remaining impact of British colonization?” To gain insight into this question, a variety of Kenyans from different backgrounds were interviewed. Their answers helped reveal the desires of the people today and whether the effort to teach two distinct music styles is effective. The interviews uncovered three prominent thoughts about the inclusion of Western music in the Kenyan curriculum and its perceived effect on the culture. Western music culture is ingrained in the Kenyan curriculum. However, this does not appear to be negatively affecting the Kenyan culture as the Kenyans have drawn a distinction between music (culture) and music lessons (classroom instruction time) and have been able to glean aspects from Western music culture such as notation and recording technology to help preserve Kenyan music. Finally, the new music curriculum being written in Kenya – at the time of this writing implemented through grade four – is appropriately emphasizing Kenyan music. Those interviewed expressed excitement for their cultural future with this new curriculum.