Introduction to music education

This first unit introduces the topic of the notion „music education“ and gives few examples of methods used in the classroom in order to give students a deeper unterstanding of music.


A short overview on music education

Music is the deliberate production and organization of sound by people for other people to hear. Music education itself is a !eld of study inside musicology. From a student's point of view music education concerns oneself with problemes of the imparting of knowledge in the !eld of music. The music education examines any seriously and professional methods and strategies and shows up how music can be learned and how to be taught in classroom with groups or in individual private lessons. It refers to all learning domains, including the psychomotor domain, the cognitive domain and particularly the affective domain. Over the time many concepts were developed and each one of them have own priorities and objectives:

„Music training from preschool through post-secondary education is common in most nations because involvement with music is considered a fundamental component of human culture and behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes humans as a species.“ 1

All in all you can say that understanding music teaches students what to listen for in music, while offering instructors and even students an economical option for their music appreciation course. A very important and characteristic task is the development of methodical and didactical concepts with regard to education policy and the social conditions at time. The different models need a practical transfer, it is called teaching methodology and symbolizes an own discipline:

„In primary schools in European countries, children often learn to play instruments such as keyboards or recorders, sing in small choirs, and learn about the elements of music and history of music.“2

The most modern music conception today is called AMU.3 AMU combines three !elds of competence with each other: musical arranging, creation of special music abilities and the alottment of different cultures. In the centre of this model stands the curriculum with the orientation to competence. In the last 10 years there is a development in the education sector from an input system to an output-oriented approach. The students should aquire some practical skills and not only declarative knowledge.

In countries such as India, Pakistan or Afghanistan modern instruments like piano, keyboard, guitar, electrical bass or violin, for example, are particularly also common. Students are normally taught traditional basics of Indian/Afghan „Raga music“ in different styles. In European primary and secondary schools students may often have the opportunity to play an instrument in some type of musical ensemble, such as small and big bands, choirs, orchestras, or little bands, so there are concert bands, marching bands or also jazz bands. In Germany, some secondary schools offer to choose special music classes for more individual development incentive. In all European school systems music usually continues to be a required and obligate part of the curriculum.

In music education the teacher plays a decisive role as a mediator, because music education is not only characterized by taking amateur or professional music lessons with some instruments, it also takes place in individualized lifelong learning and in community contexts.

Furthermore it includes the learning about different cultures of music with transcultural music studies being a focal point in this !eld of interest. Music as a strong medium to learn and to enhance your personal self-concept. In the meantime the music medicine contains any possibilities to help patients with neuro-degenerative diseases, for example Alzheimer, Dementia or Parkinson. Lately it was demonstrated, that special music lessons are able to help patients after having a stroke.4

The transport of Emotion is the main essential argument to effort an improvement in this direction.5

As a teacher you should use this emotional impact of music to generate an effective and motivating learning atmosphere for all your students in groups. Another point is the realization of sensorimotor input into movement. It means for example to !nd the right tempo, dynamic etc. and being able to feel it as pleasant perceptions of one’s own body. This playing between action and reaction improves teamwork, ensemble playing and the own understanding about the sense and the own motor activity.6

Today the fixed point in music education is performing live in classroom while being instructed by a trained music teacher. To make music on the basis of certain special didactic skills is fundamental these days. The theory will be learned by playing music together, therefore it is necessary to provide a lot of performance opportunities. Organizing concerts, workshops etc. or composing and arranging any piece of music for different classes and groups belongs to the homework of music teachers. Finally there exists one last movement called popular music pedagogy. This means the systematic teaching and learning of jazz, rock and pop music and further forms of popular music both inside and outside formal classroom settings. In all movements dealing with the parameters of music play and important role:

  • melody
  • harmony
  • rhythm
  • tempo = timing
  • form = structure
  • timbre / tone colour
  • loudness = dynamics
  • accentuation, articulation, tension and relaxation