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Music education

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Music education comprises the application of education methods in teaching music.




17th century

Music education in North America can be traced to the colonies of the seventeenth century. In the South, there existed no organized music education system. However, rote learning played a major role in the transmission of music traditions. In the Northern colonies, music was already an important consideration in the lives of the Pilgrims. The Bay Psalm Book, especially later editions, provided methods for solmization along with performance instruction. Thus Northern colonists could succeed in teaching themselves rudimentary music skills, as related to psalm singing.


For much of its existence, music education standards in the United States were determined locally or by individual teachers. In modern times there has been a significant move toward regional and/or national standards. MENC: The National Association for Music Education, created nine content standards, called the National Standards for Music Education, adopted in 1994[1]:

  1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
  4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
  5. Reading and notating music.
  6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
  7. Evaluating music and music performances.
  8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
  9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Many states and school districts have adopted their own standards for music education. Often, these local standards are derived in some form from the National Standards. For example, in Florida, the Sunshine State Standards [2] set grade-level expectations for music students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.


United States

Music education in the United States occurs in different classroom settings.

Musical ensembles may be considered a curricular class; additionally, there may also be auxiliary or extracurricular ensembles available.

Great Britain

The British education system in schools up to the age of 14 is defined by the National Curriculum. Under the National Curriculum music is a compulsory subject. The National Curriculum divides music education into three Key Stages which roughly align with the Primary/Middle/Secondary School division. In areas where a Primary/Secondary School division exists, both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are taught at the Primary School level. Each Key Stage is divided into 5 programmes of study: performing, composing, appraising, listening and breadth of study. Each programme is of equal weight (e.g. composing is equally as important as listening). After 14 years of age (Year 10 onwards) the study of music is optional, but all schools are legally obliged to offer music education to those pupils aged 14-16 who desire it. Music is examined at 16 at GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) level and may be studied further at those schools and colleges that choose to offer the higher qualifications of AS and A levels in music.

The teaching of instrumental technique is an extracurricular activity. Pupils are often excused from lessons on a weekly basis for their instrumental lessons. The provision of these lessons depends very much on the Local Education Authority, and so varies wildly in different areas of the United Kingdom.

School ensembles generally rehearse at lunchtimes or after school. Each school is free to make its own arrangements regarding such teaching. A successful school orchestra is viewed as good material towards the "value added" criteria of OFSTED, the national school inspection authority.

Professional organizations

  • MENC: The National Association for Music Education [3]
  • American Choral Directors Association [4]
  • OAKE: Organization of Kodaly Educators [5]
  • IAJE: International Association of Jazz Education [6]
  • BOA: Bands of America [7]
  • MTNA: Music Teachers National Association [8]

External links


  National Standards for Music Education. National Standards for Music Education. The nine content standards, adopted in 1994, along with related links.. URL accessed on June 25, 2005.

Reproduced with permission as per [ National Standards for Arts Education Reprint Permission Policy]. National Standards for Arts Education: Reprint Permission Policy. A list of permissions granted to any person, organization, or other entity wishing to reprint or duplicate portions of the K-12 National Standards for Arts Education.. URL accessed on June 25, 2005.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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