Approaches to America’s Music Education

Approaches to America’s Music Education

The teaching and learning process has used various methodologies over the past centuries. Concurrently, the discipline of music is another field that has incorporated multiple methods incorporated into the education system. Scholars and musicians have influenced the decision of music to be part of the education system. Americans have shown great interest in the above phenomena to the point that the U.S Department of Education has included it as a critical subject in the curriculum. This paper will focus on a brief history of the broad approaches that were used to pass music skills from generation to generation to bring this concept to deeper understanding. Different scholars together with their methodologies and their influences on the concern above shall also be discussed. Music plays a vital role in human learning and understanding. Therefore it should be a part of the education system.

History of Music in the U.S.

Music education in the United States is traced long ago since the seventeenth century. Before music was initiated into formal learning institutions, psalms singing was brought by Pilgrims (Mark). They succeeded in passing the basic skills of singing the psalms. The first singing school was established in Boston, following Reverend Thomas Symmes’s preaching (Mark). The focus was not only to improve singing and music reading in churches and religious celebrations but also educate people on how best to develop music. During the years afterward the same schools were started in other colonies as well. After that, the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries have faced numerous transformations in the music education. Similarly, various authors wrote and published texts providing advice to students taking music on advisable singing practices together with songs suitable for use in church.

Music began taking root as a curricular subject in schools. John Tufts published the first music textbook in the era (Mark). Other writers followed suit such that between 1700 and 1820, there were more than 375 published tune books. After the publishing of the mentioned texts, music advanced to each grade level. Also, the teaching of music reading developed until a point when the music curriculum included other activities besides music reading itself. Public school music dominated that by 1864 they were established throughout the republic.

Lowell Mason

Lowell Mason is regarded by many as the founder of music education. He was born on January eighth, 1972, in Medfield, Massachusetts. Early at the age of thirteen, he attended a singing school. Later on at 16, he directed the Medfield choir, and afterward the Medfield band. He then began leading singing schools and concerts, where he became the superintendent of the Sunday school and Leader at the Independent Presbyterian Church. In the same period, he was appointed the choir director and organist. He remains iconic for his many attempts to necessitate music education.

            Mason contributed to elevating the music education back in the days. In 1832, Mason set up the Boston Academy of Music to teach both singing and theory, coupled with teaching music (Mark). Before then, singing classes had been the core method of music education, but with the academy, scholars sought to broaden the singing curriculum to encompass music study as well as theoretical concepts. Mason published his textbook Manual of Instruction which appealed to many (Mark). He was then called to demonstrate music classes in the Hawes School, where it proved significant. In 1838, the Boston School Committee included music in the curriculum (Mark). The above marked the introduction of music education public schools in the U.S.

Other districts and states who were inspired implemented music into their educational system. Boston became the inspiration to which towns modified their music education programs (Mark). Music became a popular and well-respected subject of study in all public schools, from junior to high school. Although the main teaching styles were performance instruction and studying theory from textbooks, there followed some advancements. Much support for public music eluded from different areas. One was the increase in the teaching of the number of tutors in the singing schools. The other was due to choral activities propelled by choral societies. Various activities saw the growth of Mason’s music education approach.

The School Band Movement

Another influence on music education was the school band movement. The increasing number of students enrolled in public primary schools saw with it the increase in the number of bands. Both the school orchestra and marching band programs aimed at developing more modern and more enjoyable aspects of music in the curriculum. John Philip Sousa spearheaded the marches which helped to build the popularity of the bands in turn (Whitehill). Schools then paraded either all-men or sometimes all-women groups which played vital roles like entertaining soldiers from the world war (Whitehill). Music methodology was a course for teachers in Normal schools bore teaching colleges where four-year degree programs inclusive of music were offered (Whitehill).  Indeed the bands raised the music education the ladder.

The emergence of Music Education Associations

In the 20th century, the NAfME was significant

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