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Music education is a field of study associated with teaching and learning music. It touches on all learning domains, including the psychomotor domain (the development of skills), the cognitive domain (the acquisition of knowledge), and, in particular and significant ways, the affective domain (the learner's willingness to receive, internalize, and share what is learned), including music appreciation and sensitivity. Music training from preschool through post-secondary education is common in most nations because involvement with music is considered a fundamental component of human culture and behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes us as humans.
The Dalcroze method (eurhythmics) was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze.The Kodály Method emphasizes the benefits of physical instruction and response to music. The Orff Schulwerk "approach" to music education leads students to develop their music abilities in a way that parallels the development of western music. The Suzuki method creates the same environment for learning music that a person has for learning their native language. Gordon Music Learning Theory provides the music teacher with a comprehensive method for teaching musicianship through audiation, Gordon's term for hearing music in the mind with understanding. Conversational Solfège immerses students in the musical literature of their own culture, in this case American. The Carabo-Cone Method involves using props, costumes, and toys for children to learn basic musical concepts of staff, note duration, and the piano keyboard. The concrete environment of the specially planned classroom allows the child to learn the fundamentals of music by exploring through touch. Popular music pedagogy is the systematic teaching and learning of rock music and other forms of popular music both inside and outside formal classroom settings.
The MMCP (Manhattanville Music Curriculum Project) aims to shape attitudes, helping students see music not as static content to be mastered, but as personal, current, and evolving. American fiddler Mark O'Connor developed a method of violin education that is designed to guide students in developing musical techniques necessary to become a proficient violinist. During its tenure, the Mumbai-based Boss School of Music developed a proprietary method of education using audio-visual technology, simplified concepts, and specially designed musical equipment.
In elementary schools in European countries, children often learn to play instruments such as keyboards or recorders, sing in small choirs, and learn about the elements of music and history of music. In countries such as India, the harmonium is used in schools, but instruments like keyboards and violin are also common. Students are normally taught basics of Indian Raga music. In primary and secondary schools, students may often have the opportunity to perform in some type of musical ensemble, such as a choir, orchestra, or school band: concert band, marching band, or jazz band. In some secondary schools, additional music classes may also be available. In junior high school or its equivalent, music usually continues to be a required part of the curriculum.
At the university level, students in most arts and humanities programs receive academic credit for music courses such as music history, typically of Western art music, or music appreciation, which focuses on listening and learning about different musical styles. In addition, most North American and European universities offer music ensembles - such as choir, concert band, marching band, or orchestra - that are open to students from various fields of study. Most universities also offer degree programs in music education, certifying students as primary and secondary music educators. Advanced degrees such as the D.M.A. or the Ph.D can lead to university employment. These degrees are awarded upon completion of music theory, music history, technique classes, private instruction with a specific instrument, ensemble participation, and in depth observations of experienced educators. Music education departments in North American and European universities also support interdisciplinary research in such areas as music psychology, music education historiography, educational ethnomusicology, sociomusicology, and philosophy of education.
The study of western art music is increasingly common in music education outside of North America and Europe, including Asian nations such as South Korea, Japan, and China. At the same time, Western universities and colleges are widening their curriculum to include music of outside the Western art music canon, including music of West Africa, of Indonesia (e.g. Gamelan music), Mexico (e.g., mariachi music, Zimbabwe (marimba music), as well as popular music.
Music education also takes place in individualized, lifelong learning, and in community contexts. Both amateur and professional musicians typically take music lessons, short private sessions with an individual teacher.
While instructional strategies are determined by the music teacher and the music curriculum in his or her area, many teachers rely heavily on one of many instructional methodologies that emerged in recent generations and developed rapidly during the latter half of the 20th Century:
The Dalcroze method was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. The method is divided into three fundamental concepts - the use of solfège, improvisation, and eurhythmics. Sometimes referred to as "rhythmic gymnastics," eurhythmics teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement, and is the concept for which Dalcroze is best known. It focuses on allowing the student to gain physical awareness and experience of music through training that engages all of the senses, particularly kinesthetic. According to the Dalcroze method, music is the fundamental language of the human brain and therefore deeply connected to who we are. American proponents of the Dalcroze method include Ruth Alperson, Ann Farber, Herb Henke, Virginia Mead, Lisa Parker, Martha Sanchez, and Julia Schnebly-Black. Many active teachers of Dalcroze method were trained by Dr. Hilda Schuster who was one of the students of Dalcroze.
Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967) was a prominent Hungarian music educator and composer who stressed the benefits of physical instruction and response to music. Although not really an educational method, his teachings reside within a fun, educational framework built on a solid grasp of basic music theory and music notation in various verbal and written forms. Kodály's primary goal was to instill a lifelong love of music in his students and felt that it was the duty of the child's school to provide this vital element of education. Some of Kodály's trademark teaching methods include the use of solfège hand signs, musical shorthand notation (stick notation), and rhythm solmization (verbalization). Most countries have used their own folk music traditions to construct their own instruction sequence, but the United States primarily uses the Hungarian sequence. The work of Denise Bacon, Katinka S. Daniel, John Feierabend, Jean Sinor, Jill Trinka, and others brought Kodaly’s ideas to the forefront of music education in the United States.
Carl Orff was a prominent German composer. Orff Schulwerk is considered an "approach" to music education. It begins with a student's innate abilities to engage in rudimentary forms of music, using basic rhythms and melodies. Orff considers the whole body a percussive instrument and students are led to develop their music abilities in a way that parallels the development of western music. The approach fosters student self-discovery, encourages improvisation, and discourages adult pressures and mechanical drill. Carl Orff developed a special group of instruments, including modifications of the glockenspiel, xylophone, metallophone, drum, and other percussion instruments to accommodate the requirements of the Schulwerk courses. Experts in shaping an American-style Orff approach include Jane Frazee, Arvida Steen, Judith Thomas, and many more.
The Suzuki method was developed by Shinichi Suzuki in Japan shortly after World War II, and uses music education to enrich the lives and moral character of its students. The movement rests on the double premise that "all children can be well educated" in music, and that learning to play music at a high level also involves learning certain character traits or virtues which make a person's soul more beautiful. The primary method for achieving this is centered around creating the same environment for learning music that a person has for learning their native language. This 'ideal' environment includes love, high-quality examples, praise, rote training and repetition, and a time-table set by the student's developmental readiness for learning a particular technique. While the Suzuki Method is quite popular internationally, within Japan its influence is less significant than the Yamaha Method, founded by Genichi Kawakami in association with the Yamaha Music Foundation.
In addition to the four major international methods described above, other approaches have been influential. Lesser-known methods are described below:
This method is based on an extensive body of research and field testing by Edwin E. Gordon and others. Music Learning Theory provides the music teacher with a comprehensive method for teaching musicianship through audiation, Gordon's term for hearing music in the mind with understanding. Teaching methods help music teachers establish sequential curricular objectives in accord with their own teaching styles and beliefs.
The growth of cultural diversity within school-age populations prompted music educators from the 1960s onward to diversify the music curriculum, and to work with ethnomusicologists and artist-musicians to establish instructional practices rooted in musical traditions. 'World music pedagogy' was coined by Patricia Shehan Campbell to describe world music content and practice in elementary and secondary school music programs. Pioneers of the movement, especially Barbara Reeder Lundquist, William M. Anderson, and Will Schmid, influenced a second generation of music educators (including J. Bryan Burton, Mary Goetze, Ellen McCullough-Brabson, and Mary Shamrock) to design and deliver curricular models to music teachers of various levels and specializations. The pedagogy advocates the use of human resources, i.e., "culture-bearers," as well as deep and continued listening to archived resources such as those of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Influenced by both the Kodály method and Gordon's Music Learning Theory, Conversational Solfège was developed by Dr. John M. Feierabend, chair of music education at the Hartt School, University of Hartford. The program begins by immersing students in the musical literature of their own culture, in this case American. Music is seen as separate from, and more fundamental than, notation. In twelve learning stages, students move from hearing and singing music to decoding and then creating music using spoken syllables and then standard written notation. Rather than implementing the Kodály method directly, this method follows Kodály's original instructions and builds on America's own folk songs instead of on Hungarian folk songs.
This early-childhood approach, sometimes referred to as the Sensory-Motor Approach to Music, was developed by the violinist Madeleine Carabo-Cone. This approach involves using props, costumes, and toys for children to learn basic musical concepts of staff, note duration, and the piano keyboard. The concrete environment of the specially planned classroom allows the child to learn the fundamentals of music by exploring through touch.
'Popular music pedagogy' — alternatively called rock music pedagogy, popular music education, or rock music education — is a recent development in music education consisting of the systematic teaching and learning of rock music and other forms of popular music both inside and outside formal classroom settings. Popular music pedagogy tends to emphasize group improvisation, and is more commonly associated with community music activities than fully institutionalized school music ensembles.
The Manhattanville Music Curriculum Project was developed in 1965 as a response to declining student interest in school music. This creative approach aims to shape attitudes, helping students see music not as static content to be mastered, but as personal, current, and evolving. Rather than imparting factual knowledge, this method centers around the student, who learns through investigation, experimentation, and discovery. The teacher gives a group of students a specific problem to solve together and allows freedom to create, perform, improvise, conduct, research, and investigate different facets of music in a spiral curriculum. MMCP is viewed as the forerunner to projects in creative music composition and improvisation activities in schools.
American fiddler Mark O'Connor developed a method of violin education that is designed to guide students in developing musical techniques necessary to become a proficient violinist. The method consists of a series of pieces covering a wide range of genres. Teacher training sessions based on the method take place around the country.
During its tenure, the Mumbai-based Boss School of Music developed a proprietary method of education using audio-visual technology, simplified concepts, and specially designed musical equipment. They trained novice students for standardized electronic keyboard graded examinations conducted by Trinity College London, requiring only 3–6 months of training using their methods. Traditional methods required up to 8 years to prepare students for testing. Dr. Vidyadhar Vyas, Head of the Music Department at the University of Mumbai, claimed that they "revolutionized" music learning by teaching complex musical concepts in short periods of time. They also trained a few young children ages 6-10 for the Trinity College Grade 8 examination; after passing the examination, the students were reportedly considered child prodigies. Although the Boss School Method is not formally documented, various notable musicians in Mumbai such as Louis Banks agreed that the school had developed a "revolutionary technique". Some controversy has surrounded the school and its methods.
After the preaching of Reverend Thomas Symmes, the first singing school was created in 1717 in Boston for the purposes of improving singing and music reading in the church. These singing schools gradually spread throughout the colonies. Music education continued to flourish with the creation of the Academy of Music in Boston. Reverend John Tufts published An Introduction to the Singing of Psalm Tunes Using Non-Traditional Notation which is regarded as the first music textbook in the colonies. Between 1700 to 1820, more than 375 tune books would be published by such authors as Samuel Holyoke, Francis Hopkinson, William Billings, and Oliver Holden.
Music began to spread as a curricular subject into other school districts. Soon after music expanded to all grade levels and the teaching of music reading was improved until the music curriculum grew to include several activities in addition to music reading. By the end of 1864 public school music had spread throughout the country.
In 1832, Lowell Mason and George Webb formed the Boston Academy of Music with the purposes of teaching singing and theory as well as methods of teaching music. Mason published his Manuel of Instruction in 1834 which was based upon the music education works of Pestalozzian System of Education founded by Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. This handbook gradually became used by many singing school teachers. From 1837-1838, the Boston School Committee allowed Lowell Mason to teach music in the Hawes School as a demonstration. This is regarded as the first time music education was introduced to public schools in the United States. In 1838 the Boston School Committee approved the inclusion of music in the curriculum and Lowell Mason became the first recognized supervisor of elementary music. In later years Luther Whiting Mason became the Supervisor of Music in Boston and spread music education into all levels of public education (grammar, primary, and high school). During the middle of the 19th century, Boston became the model to which many other cities across the United States included and shaped their public school music education programs. Music methodology for teachers as a course was first introduced in the Normal School in Potsdam. The concept of classroom teachers in a school that taught music under the direction of a music supervisor was the standard model for public school music education during this century. (See also: Music education in the United States)
In the United States, teaching colleges with four-year degree programs developed from the Normal Schools and included music. Oberlin Conservatory first offered the Bachelor of Music Education degree. Osbourne G. McCarthy, an American music educator, introduced details for studying music for credit in Chelsea High School. Notable events in the history of music education in the early 20th century also include:
The following table illustrates some notable developments from this period:
|Date||Major Event||Historical Importance for Music Education|
|1950||The Child's Bill of Rights in Music||A student-centered philosophy was formally espoused by MENC.|
|1953||The American School Band Directors Association formed||The band movement becomes organized.|
|1957||Launch of Sputnik||Increased curricular focus on science, math, technology with less emphasis on music education.|
|1959||Contemporary Music Project||The purpose of the project was to make contemporary music relevant in children by placing quality composers and performers in the learning environment. Leads to the Comprehensive Musicianship movement.|
|1961||American Choral Directors Association formed||The choral movement becomes organized.|
|1963||Yale Seminar||Federally supported development of arts education focusing on quality music classroom literature. Juilliard Project leads to the compilation and publication of musical works from major historical eras for elementary and secondary schools.|
|1965||National Endowment for the Arts||Federal financial support and recognition of the value music has in society.|
|1967||Tanglewood Symposium||Establishment of a unified and ecletic philosophy of music education. Specific emphasis on youth music, special education music, urban music, and electronic music.|
|1969||GO Project||35 Objectives listed by MENC for quality music education programs in public schools. Published and recommended for music educators to follow.|
|1978||The Ann Arbor Symposium||Emphasized the impact of learning theory in music education in the areas of: auditory perception, motor learning, child development, cognitive skills, memory processing, affect, and motivation.|
|1984||Becoming Human Through Music symposium||"The Wesleyan Symposium on the Perspectives of Social Anthropology in the Teaching and Learning of Music" (Middletown, Connecticut, August 6–10, 1984). Emphasized the importance of cultural context in music education and the cultural implications of rapidly changing demographics in the United States.|
|1990||Multicultural Symposium in Music Education||Growing out of the awareness of the increasing diversity of the American School population, the three-day Symposium for music teachers was co-sponsored by MENC, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Smithsonian Institution, in order to provide models, materials, and methods for teaching music of the world's cultures to school children and youth.|
|1994||National Standards for Music Education||For much of the 1980s, there was a call for educational reform and accountability in all curricular subjects. This led to the National Standards for Music Education introduced by MENC. The MENC standards were adopted by some states, while other states have produced their own standards or largely eschewed the standards movement.|
|1999||The Housewright Symposium / Vision 2020||Examined changing philosophies and practices and predicted how American music education will (or should) look in the year 2020.|
|2007||Tanglewood II: Charting the Future||Reflected on the 40 years of change in music education since the first Tanglewood Symposium of 1967, developing a declaration regarding priorities for the next forty years.|
Music course offerings and even entire degree programs in online music education developed in the first decade of the 21st century at various institutions, and the fields of world music pedagogy and popular music pedagogy have also seen notable expansion.
Institutional Music education was started in colonial India by Rabindranath Tagore after he founded the Visva-Bharati University. At present, most universities have a faculty of music with some universities specially dedicated to fine arts such as Indira Kala Sangeet University, Swathi Thirunal College of Music or Rabindra Bharati University.
Indian classical music is based on the gurushyshyaparampara system. The teacher, known as Guru, transmit the musical knowledge to the student, or shyshya. This is still the main system used in India to transmit musical knowledge.
The South African Department of Education and the ILAM Music Heritage Project SA teach African music using western musical framework. ILAM's Listen and Learn for students 11-14 is "unique" in teaching curriculum requirements for western music using recordings of traditional African music.
Standards are curricular statements used to guide educators in determining objectives for their teaching. Use of standards became a common practice in many nations during the 20th century. For much of its existence, the curriculum for music education in the United States was determined locally or by individual teachers. In recent decades there has been a significant move toward adoption of regional and/or national standards. MENC: The National Association for Music Education, created nine voluntary content standards, called the National Standards for Music Education. These standards call for:
Many states and school districts have adopted their own standards for music education.
Some schools and organizations promote integration of arts classes, such as music, with other subjects, such as math, science, or English. It is thought that by integrating the different curricula will help each subject to build off of one another, enhancing the overall quality of education. Music education can play a vital role in the development of the whole child and their scholastic journey.
One example is the Kennedy Center's "Changing Education Through the Arts" program. CETA defines arts integration as finding a natural connection(s) between one or more art forms (dance, drama/theater, music, visual arts, storytelling, puppetry, and/or creative writing) and one or more other curricular areas (science, social studies, English language arts, mathematics, and others) in order to teach and assess objectives in both the art form and the other subject area. This allows a simultaneous focus on creating, performing, and/or responding to the arts while still addressing content in other subject areas.
The Learning Maestros is a company whose goal is to create new interdisciplinary musical works and educational materials that explore connections between music and science, literature, visual arts, natural history, and issues of social conscience. It was founded by Julian Fifer and composer Bruce Adolphe. Notable interdisciplinary educational works they have created in collaboration with writers and scientists include "Tyrannosaurus Sue: A Cretaceous Concerto" (for the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago), "Red Dogs and Pink Skies: A Musical Celebration of Paul Gauguin" (in conjunction with an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), "Self Comes to Mind" (created with neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at the American Museum of Natural History, New York), "Let Freedom Sing: the story of Marian Anderson" (with writer Carolivia Herron, premiered by the Washington National Opera), "Zephyronia" (with writer Louise Gikow, for the Imani Winds), and "Witches, Wizards, Spells, and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare" (for the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater).
The European Union Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 has funded three projects that use music to support language learning. Lullabies of Europe (for pre-school and early learners), FolkDC (for primary), and the recent PopuLLar (for secondary). In addition, the ARTinED project is also using music for all subject areas.
It has been argued that studying music enhances academic achievement. The research was brought to the attention of mainstream America with the assertion that listening to Mozart improved spatial reasoning skills. This led to countless attempts to recreate the study, debunk the results, and expand upon them. While listening to Mozart may temporarily enhance a student's spatial-temporal abilities, learning to play an instrument holds much more promise as an avenue to improve student performance and achievement.
According to the Florida Music Educators Association, “Music and the Fine Arts have been a significant portion of every culture’s educational system for more than 3,000 years. The human brain has been shown to be “hard-wired” for music; there is a biological basis for music being an important part of human experience. Music and the Arts surround daily life in our present day culture. Most present day artists, architects, and musicians acquired their interests during public school Fine Arts classes... Education without the Fine Arts is fundamentally impoverished and subsequently leads to an impoverished society.”
William Earhart, former president of the Music Educators National Conference, said that “Music enhances knowledge in the areas of mathematics, science, geography, history, foreign language, physical education, and vocational training." Music not only inspires creativity and performance, but academic performance over all is seriously impacted. A research study produced by the Harris Poll has shown that 9 out of 10 individuals with post graduate degrees participated in music education. The National Report of SAT test takers study indicated students with music performance experience scored higher on the SAT: 57 points higher on verbal and 41 points higher on math. Schools that have high academic performance in the US are spending 20 to 30% of their budget in the arts with emphasis on music education. Comprehensive music education programs average $187 per pupil, according to a 2011 study funded by the national Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation
Music education also increases one's success in society. The Texas Commission on Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Report noted that students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances including alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.
Playing music increases overall brain activity. In experiments done at the University of Wisconsin students with piano or keyboard experience performed 34% higher on tests that measure spatial-temporal lobe activity, which is the part of the brain that is used when doing mathematics, science, and engineering.
Music aids in text recall. Wallace (1994) studied setting text to a melody. One experiment created a three verse song with a non-repetitive melody; each verse had different music. A second experiment created a three verse song with a repetitive melody; each verse had exactly the same music. Another experiment studied text recall without music. The repetitive music produced the highest amount of text recall; therefore, music serves as a mnemonic device. Smith (1985) studied background music with word lists. One experiment involved memorizing a word list with background music; participants recalled the words 48 hours later. Another experiment involved memorizing a word list with no background music; participants also recalled the words 48 hours later. Participants who memorized word lists with background music recalled more words demonstrating music provides contextual cues.
It is important to note that "While studies show positive influences in other academic areas, music and the Fine Arts are an academic discipline that are, as the other academics, an independent way of learning and knowing."
Citing many of the statistics above the United States Congress passed a resolution declaring that: “Music education enhances intellectual development and enriches the academic environment for children of all ages; and Music educators greatly contribute to the artistic, intellectual and social development of American children and play a key role in helping children to succeed in school.”
Bobbett (1990) suggests that most public school music programs have not changed since their inception at the turn of the last century. “…the educational climate is not conducive to their continuance as historically conceived and the social needs and habits of people require a completely different kind of band program." A 2011 study conducted by Kathleen M. Kerstetter for the Journal of Band Research found that increased non-musical graduation requirements, block scheduling, increased number of non-traditional programs such as magnet schools, and the testing emphases created by the No Child Left Behind Act are only some of the concerns facing music educators. Both teachers and students are under increased time restrictions”
Unfortunately, music in our schools are being cut at a drastic rate due to budget cuts being forced upon the schools. The Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction with Chesapeake Public Schools in Chesapeake, Virginia, Dr. Patricia Powers states, “It is not unusual to see program cuts in the area of music and arts when economic issues surface. It is indeed unfortunate to lose support in this area especially since music and the art programs contribute to society in many positive ways.” What some school boards do not know is that cutting music might cause test scores to fall due to the positive effect on everything from academics to citizenship and even personal hygiene.
Music makes students more successful in school. Skills learned through the discipline of music, transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of the school curriculum. It also makes students become successful is participation in ensembles. This helps students learn to work effectively in the school environment and cuts down on resorting to violent or inappropriate behavior.
Music also has found to help students with developing intelligence. Studies have found that some measure of a child’s intelligence is indeed increased with music instruction. What is new however, is a combination of tightly controlled behavioral studies and groundbreaking neurological research that show how music study can actively contribute to brain development. Researchers at the University of Montreal used various brain imaging techniques to investigate brain activity during musical tasks and found that sight-reading musical scores and playing music both activate regions in all four of the cortex’s lobes; and that parts of the cerebellum are also activated during those tasks.
Other studies show that music also helps with reasoning. Music makes students better learners and better thinkers.
In some communities - and even entire national education systems - music is provided little support as an academic subject area, and music teachers feel that they must actively seek greater public endorsement for music education as a legitimate subject of study. This perceived need to change public opinion has resulted in the development of a variety of approaches commonly called "music advocacy". Music advocacy comes in many forms, some of which are based upon legitimate scholarly arguments and scientific findings, while other examples rely on unconvincing data and remain rather controversial.
Most recent high-profile music advocacy projects include the "Mozart Effect", the National Anthem Project, and the movement in World Music Pedagogy (also known as Cultural Diversity in Music Education) which seeks out means of equitable pedagogy across students regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic circumstance. Even though the “Mozart Effect” is controversial, the proof shows reliability. The study includes two tested groups: a group of students with and another with out music education. When this test was given to three-year-olds their temporal test improved by 35% over those with no music; this lasted for several days. The only flaw to this test is the different age groups, the older you are the less of the effect it will have on you.
Many contemporary music scholars assert that music advocacy will only be truly effective when based on empirically sound arguments that transcend political motivations and personal agendas. This position regarding music advocacy has especially been advanced by music education philosophers (such as Bennett Reimer, Estelle Jorgensen, David J. Elliott, John Paynter and Keith Swanwick,), yet a gap remains between the discourse of music education philosophy and the actual practices of music teachers and music organization executives.