Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Don’t all schools already teach students music?

I have spent so much time talking to other teachers, parents, students and student teachers about classroom music. As teachers, we all believe that our own subject is the most important. Parents usually believe that the academic subjects are most important.
But I have spent many hours of my time defending music in the classroom, in schools. So many people honestly believe that it is a waste of time money and effort: That the students fail to get anything out of the subject other than to sing a song, or be able to clap in time with the music.
But it is so much more than that. What about the students who excel in music, and not in any other subject. Others have their time to shine in English and Maths and Physical Education. Why can’t the minority still have their opportunity to shine if music is the area where they are naturally gifted.

Music gives as another medium of communication and a way to share ideas and stories without speaking or writing a word. Key social skills can be learnt throughout a music classroom. Collaborative learning, independent learning, the list goes on and on.

Then there is the argument about not only the complete lack of funding, but in many government schools, the fact that it barely exists, or fails to exist at all.

On the Music Count Us In website the following is said in response to the title “Don’t all schools already teach students music?” 

Not really, no. The key with meaningful music learning, as the Review says, is that it has to be ‘continuous, sequential and developmental’ for students to benefit. We know, for example, that as few as 23% of government schools are able to offer their students a music education which fits that bill - they would like to, but they lack the resources. In private schools, the number leaps up to 88%. The numbers vary greatly from State to State, but that ‘23% compared with 88%’ statistic reflects the national average. Music: Count Us In is about saying that ALL kids deserve, and can benefit from, music.

Music count us in are using the ICT in a simple way, using the Internet to share PDF and audio files, to assisting in creating opportunities for music to exist in even more classrooms around Australia.  
If you are interested in finding out some more information, or want information about how you can include music in your own classroom setting, see their website:


  1. I gotta say I get constantly cheesed off by people who talk in this sort of manner - i.e. Saying that music has no educational benefit outside of being able to produce a pretty tune.

    The truth of the matter is that being able to play, understand and follow music is (dare I say it?) an analytical skill. Being able to quickly read, recognise and align notes within an extended pattern and thereby identify its value quickly so as to be able to play a tune fluently not only requires IMMENSE hand-eye co-ordination, but immeasurable analytical capabilites. Not to mention the ability to recall information as to correctly categorise these notes. I was always lousy at music when I was at school - the fact that I was always pathetic at analysis is probably the explanation why.

    I'm also thinking that music and ICT fit together really well. If nothing else, music is a really effective vessel to effectively engage students in the content of a lesson - just like ICT can be. It really boils down to what John said at the start of the unit - if it can be done more effectively without ICT, that's how it should be done. However if ICT enhances that engagemenet or understanding it should be employed.

    Even as a History teacher I've seen music employed to convey social context of a time period. In one lesson I observed a few years back, a teacher selected a series of songs and poems from just after WW2 and played them in class. He asked the students to analyse the 'feel' of the piece, the particualr lyrics chosen and how this song related to the event of WW2 in relation to its cultural bias. It was a brilliant concept and the students were INCREDIBLY engaged. The only problem was that a lot of time was wasted because the teacher had forgotten his guitar, and had to send me off to the office to retrieve it.

    I think that in instances like this, that ICT could really come in handy. For instance, the teacher can make pre-recordings of the songs so that problems like this can be avoided with a sufficient back up plan. In addition to this, the students become capable of listening to the song numerous times to extract the appropriate contextual information from the piece, and not be expected to gain a thorough understanding from just one run through. This, I believe allows for a more complete understanding, and also allows for the integration of various subjects - History, Music, and even English. Brilliant inovation in my opinion!

    Sorry I've gone on for a bit now. Signing off! :)

  2. DAMN! I can't post it as anything but anonymous. That was A.Stringer at a_string@hotmail.com (www.strunguproo.blogspot.com)