National Identity in the Japanese School Band

  • David G. HebertEmail author
Part of the Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education book series (LAAE, volume 9)


It seemed there had never before been such tension in the band room. In fact, this was the only case of a disciplinary problem observed in the band during the entire period of fieldwork at Ishikawa Middle School. It took several repeated viewings of the video content to fully grasp the true meaning of what had occurred. The band had just finished rehearsing St. Anthony Variations (by William Hill), a complex piece requiring a high level of technical ability that would make it suitable repertoire for many American university wind bands. Kato Sensei then had the students take out their sheet music parts for Kimigayo, the Japanese national anthem. Kimigayo is a very slow and simple song that consists of half notes and quarter notes in a narrow range, technically the very simplest piece in the band’s entire repertoire. Kato Sensei conducted the band through Kimigayo, from beginning to end. Surprisingly, most of the clarinet section members never lifted their instruments to playing position for this song, and instead sat silently through the entire piece. I recall thinking that the expressions of the clarinet players seemed unusual at this point, with very solemn faces and eyes pointing toward the ground, occasionally stealing glances at one another.


National Identity Japanese Student Music Education History Textbook Cultural Nationalism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grieg Academy, Faculty of EducationBergen University CollegeBergenNorway

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