Kayla Rush (Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland)


In this paper, I examine a ‘Riot Grrrl’ performance project at a School of Rock in the US Midwest, suggesting that this case study offers useful insights and reflections for teaching social justice in popular music education settings. This case study is particularly interesting and complex for having been initiated and led by two male instructors and taught to a mixed-gender group of teenage students. Drawing on participant-observation and interviews, I examine the dual aims of teaching and learning Riot Grrrl as music and as social justice, looking at the ways in which the two perspectives co-existed in the instructors’ pedagogical practices and the students’ learning. I pay particular attention to the ways in which these aims can be at odds with one another, examining a conflict that arose between the instructors as an instance of these understandings being in tension with one another. I suggest that such moments of tension can be productive and instructive for these seeking to balance musical and social justice aspects of teaching and learning in popular music education.