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Music education

Sheridan, Mark and Byrne, Charles (2003) Music education. In: Scottish Education. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 575-579. ISBN 074861625X

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Abstract

Prior to the 1980s the music curriculum consisted of class-singing, sol-fah deciphering and music appreciation. Typical resources were the piano, the Curwen modulator, numerous sets of song and sight-reading books (to suit single gender class groupings) and a record player. More enlightened teachers would have some percussion instruments or recorders in the classroom and, from the 1970s, the odd guitar. The Scottish Examination Board 'O' Grade examination at the end of year 4 was designed to be overtaken by pupils who had expertise on an instrument or voice to the equivalent of Associated Board Grade 5, tuition on which was given outwith the classroom while the teacher concentrated on historical study, rudiments and analysis. Such elitism fuelled growing disillusionment in pupils and many teachers who experienced a different world of music in their private lives (Witkin, 1974). Significant and effective change came in 1978 with the publication by the Scottish Education Department of the highly controversial Curriculum Paper 16, Music in Scottish Schools. This was the dividing line between past practices and future developments which radically changed the way in which music was taught and which clearly focused music teachers' and educators' energies and ideas. It encapsulated many of the ideas and innovations which had been forming in Britain through the work of Paynter and Aston (1970), Witkin (1974) and in the USA since the 1960s (Choksy et al., 1986) and placed them into a Scottish context. This provided the impetus for a root and branch overhaul of the curriculum which would reshape music in the classroom into an action-based experience, open to all children, regardless of their musical or academic ability. In the contexts of both primary and secondary schools, Curriculum Paper 16 recommended syllabus content and teaching and learning strategies, the review of assessment approaches and most significantly, staffing, resource and accommodation requirements to enable 'music for all' to be implemented. These recommendations gave teachers and headteachers the tools and impetus to make demands on local authorities to fund the developments appropriately.