Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

The Provision of Classroom Music Programs to Regional Victorian Primary Schools

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

The Provision of Classroom Music Programs to Regional Victorian Primary Schools

Article excerpt

In November 2005, Professor Margaret Seares reported to the Honorable Dr. Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training on what was the most extensive review of music in the history of Australian education. In The National Review of School Music Education (NRSME) Seares stated that the review revealed:

cycles of neglect and inequity which impact to the detriment of too many young Australians, particularly those in geographically and socially disadvantaged areas. (DEST, 2005, p. iii)

Existing literature reveals that there have been some initiatives in response to the review's recommendations (Lierse, 1995-6; Pascoe, 2007; Stevens, 2010). However seven years on, little evidence was found to indicate that these initiatives have had a significant impact on the number of primary music programs operating in regional Victoria. Data gathered show that a large percentage of schools in rural regions of Victoria are missing out on a music education program and that much of what is being taught is neither sequential nor taught by qualified staff.

Background to the study

Essentially, the impetus for this research was driven by a professional concern in the realm of teacher education. The researcher has taught music in primary and secondary schools for over twenty years and for the last ten, she has also taught in undergraduate primary teacher education, writing and teaching music elective units. During this time, regular requests were received from local school principals, asking for "a good music graduate" while music electives at the university were slowly being discontinued. The question of a connection between the two arose and a concern over just how widespread the problem might be. Was this the only university being forced to cut music education options for students? Were principals all over country Victoria struggling to find music teachers and how did currently practicing music teachers perceive the situation? This study therefore examined the current issues pertaining to the provision of music education in schools and universities in regional Victoria, gathering quantitative and qualitative data from all parties involved, including universities, music teachers and schools. National and international literature were examined at length in order to place the findings in context, with a particular focus on Australian government education policy and curriculum which directly affect all three parties in the provision 'chain'.

What defines a "music teacher"?

For the purposes of the study, the term "music teacher" or "music specialist" referred to the role of the teacher rather than to their qualifications (unless otherwise specified). Music teachers surveyed for this study were responsible for music programs that operate for a full class of children, usually during "release time" for the generalist teacher.

Literature review

The literature reviewed examined the reasons why music education should be offered in primary schools. This exploration provided authoritative justification for music educators' belief that music is of benefit to children and school programs. The review also examined the role of undergraduate teacher education and government policy and curriculum.

Music education for children: why provide it?

When examining the value of music in education, the literature revealed a number of reasons why the discipline should be taught at primary school level. Studies into community attitudes showed that the majority of public would like to see music and the arts occupy a more central role in school education (Australian Music Association, 2001; Costantoura, 2000; DEST, 2005). It was also argued that all children, regardless of where they live or what type of school they attend have equal rights to a quality music education (DEST, 2005; Global Access Partners, 2011).

Despite links often being made between the study of music and success in other subject areas, there were mixed findings in this area. …

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