Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Is music at a crisis point in NZ Schools?

I came across a very interesting pod cast from Radio NZ that was pointing to a crisis underway in NZ Schools where music education is not as accessible to students as it once was.

I have very little musical background - the only musical experience is what I got at primary school, where we were one of the fortunate schools to have a specialised music teacher. I remember very little but the things that stand out for me was excellent singing tuition for the whole school (and an auditioned choir), a lesson on what notes looked like and their associated letters, and I remember at one point a friend and I entered a competition where we had to compose music. She was quite musical and learnt out of school and I just tagged along really. At some point I guess I must have learnt some basic instrumental skills like the recorder.

At college, we had to learn a few notes on the recorder and play a song for an assessment. Other than that though, I also have very little recall of what we did. 

I would call myself pretty much musically inept.

The podcast here has two people being interviewed. Tim Carson represents the view that there is a crisis, and Lisa Rodgers represents the MOE.

At about 13-14 minutes MOE representative claims that music in schools is fine in all the schools she's visited. That means more than just singing, but having learned enough that a child could compose a basic piece of music. Clearly she's never been to some of the schools I have experience in. I do believe there is many other teachers like me who flounder around to do our best to be able to teach the basics not only of singing, but also of music. And we do so with very little confidence. 

Schools are funded to deliver the curriculum through their operations grant, however, the individual needs for schools means that subjects like music often get pushed down the list of priorities. There is a continual need to rethink how we can engage in the literacies (including maths, as it's a language too) through arts subjects. They are critical to the development of the whole child and providing exposure to many elements. Schools need advisors and funding for development not only in music (although I think that seems to be the area of least confidence) but also in the general area of The Arts. 

I am fortunate to be working now in a school that values the arts and music education and I look forward to learning what I can from our lead mentor in music.

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