Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Music in state-supported education in New South Wales and Victoria, 1848-1920
    Stevens, Robin Sydney ( 1978)
    This investigation considers the development of class music teaching in New South Wales and Victoria during the first seventy-two years of state-supported primary education. Looking firstly at the English background to this study, the principal music teaching methods (which resulted from the English choral singing movement of the mid-nineteenth century) as well as the subsequent development of music teaching in English elementary schools are discussed. The promotion of school music is then considered on a broadly chronological basis in each state and a number of themes are seen to emerge in relation to developments in school music policy and practice during the period. The major themes include such issues as whether music should be part of the ordinary school curriculum or an extra-curricular subject, whether musical instruction should be given by generalist or specialist teachers, and which method should be employed for teaching children to read music. Other major themes include the controversy between protagonists of the respective staff and tonic sol-fa notations, the issue of teacher training in music for ordinary class teachers, and the relationship of curriculum content to the aims and objectives of school music. In addition comparisons are made, and parallels drawn, between developments in both states and also between the respective states and school music in England. The final chapter demonstrates the relevance of many of the historical themes for music education today. There is a drawing together of the main themes which enables certain trends in school music policy and practice as well as certain problems and deficiencies which emerged during the period 1848-1920 to be clearly identified. These are then considered in relation to the contemporary school music scene. The findings are that certain aspects at present represent a continuation of former policies and practices while other aspects represent a departure from the traditions of the past. For example, the recent introduction of the "new" Kodaly method represents a continuation of the movable doh solmisation system which has in fact been a traditional feature of school music teaching in New South Wales since the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the phasing-out of prescribed music curricula in both states in favour of school-based curriculum planning represents an obvious departure from tradition. In addition there are certain problems and deficiencies in primary music education at present which have either persisted since 1920 or have re-emerged from the past. For example, the low priority afforded to music in the primary curriculum and the lack of musical competence among generalist teachers have become almost traditional features of primary education in both states. There is also a re-emergence of the problem of inadequate musical training for primary teachers in many pre-service teacher training courses at present. The thesis concludes by citing a recurring problem from the past, namely the lack of co-ordination between various aspects of school music policy, as the most serious problem to be overcome if primary school children are to receive effective and worthwhile music education in the future.