The Primary Music Curriculum Education Essay

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My research is based on the primary music curriculum and about the teaching between the music specialists and the classroom teachers. I collected many data from books, articles, from an observation in a school and from my experience as a student who I was. To start with 'in the late nineteenth century the educational forum, the National Education Association, included a music section which music was recognised to be in the primary education' (Jones and Robson, 2008). When then the National curriculum was determined it was compulsory for all the children in primary schools to attend the music curriculum which was a supplemented part of the school curriculum. In the music curriculum the three main musical skills are performance, listening and composing. Through the performance the children will be able to practice their voices in singing parts and perform different songs in their instruments. Through the listening they will be able to develop their audibility by hearing different sounds and songs and experiment with these. Also through the composing they will be able to develop their creativity and make different music patterns using some musical ideas.

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The primary music curriculum represented in key stage 1 which is the years 1 and 2 and key stage 2 which is the years 3 to 6. In key stage 1 the children should be able to recognise and identify musical materials and use them to describe an atmosphere or a dramatic situation (Swanwick, 1992). In this age the children start study music with so simple and interesting methods. 'Moreover during key stage 1 the children listen carefully and respond physically to a wide range of music'. 'Also they play different instruments and they sing songs from memory using their fantasy' (The national curriculum for England, 1999, p. 16). They experiment with simple musical instruments like recorder and some percussion and learn the songs with a specific way in order to remember the lyrics and make some movements. The children also learn the difference between the melody and the rhythm and how to experiment with these in their own compositions. 'As Swanwick (1992, p. 16) states the children in key stage 2 should be able to distinguish melodic and rhythmic devices found in songs and instrumental pieces and try to use them'. 'During key stage 2, the children sing songs and play instruments with increasing confidence, skill and awareness of their own contribution to a group or class performance'. 'Also they can improvise their own musical compositions and explore their thoughts and feelings for music from different cultures' (The national curriculum for England, 1999, p. 18).

The aim of the music curriculum is to make the children acquire some useful knowledge and also to feel confident and independent. 'For example the children until the end of year 2 in key stage 1 will learn to sing with a sense of the shape of the melody and perform simple melodic or rhythmic patterns keeping to a steady pulse' (Music Teacher's guide, 2000). By the end of year 4 in key stage 2 the children are able to perform different rhythmic patterns again but now with some notes included and also to improve their own compositions. 'Moreover until the end of year 6 in key stage 2 again, the children will learn to recognise the relationship between the sounds and perform by ear and from simple notations'. 'Also they will have the opportunity to describe or characterise different kinds of music that they listen to with music vocabulary' (Music Teacher's guide, 2000).

The music specialist has of course more knowledge in music than the classroom teacher, because he studied it and he made music training for many years in order to be worthy to teach to the students anything about music. This is also supported by Steinel (1990), who notes that 'certified music specialists have spent a minimum four years plus several precollegiate years training in music' (Byo, 1999, p. 113). According to Hoffer (1961, p. 46), 'music specialist must be the leader' in the classroom due to his advantage that he completed high music training. In my view it is a bit unfair the music specialist to be in a lower stage than the classroom teacher, because they do not have the same level in music knowledge. The music specialist is better to design the structure of the music lesson according to his own knowledge as he knows to organise it better from his experiences. This is also supported by Hoffer (1961, p. 46) who states that 'without the structuring efforts of the specialist no real musical progress will take place throughout the school'. Through this, he wants to tell us that music specialist is very important for the music in schools, because he is the most suitable to organise an effective music lesson with a good structure.

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Moreover the music specialist is more able to teach some instruments to the students due to the knowledge and his experience that he has from his music training. As Hope and Lehman (1995) note, 'music specialists receive comprehensive training in music performance and theory' (Byo, 1999, p. 114). So through the performance aspect, the music specialists can experiment with different instruments and be familiar with them in order to be able to teach them to the students with a good teaching method. Also if there are music specialists at primary schools the lessons will operate with more confidence and the students will understand better the meaning of music and acquire abilities and knowledge in everything; playing instruments, singing, about the history and theory of music through teacher's experience and abilities. As Hennessy (1998) also states, music teachers with many years training are very important in primary schools for their specialist skills and knowledge, because they give more emphasis to the curriculum and they follow it on the right way. It seems that music specialists can follow exactly the curriculum without change something and accomplish to deliver it effectively, because they are expert in it and they also know what teaching methods have to use and when each one.

According to Picerno (1970) the classroom teachers feel they can teach to the students about the music literature, some songs and plan a program for the music lesson. Also the classroom teachers feel that they cannot teach about conducting, music theory and music history and it is better the music specialists to teach these skills. (Picerno, 1970). I agree with this statement, because the classroom teachers do not have so high standards as music specialists in order to be able to teach the music in depth. They can just teach simple elements in music such as different kinds of songs and activities which have also help from Music Express scheme. Music Express scheme is a guide for non-specialized teachers in order to have help on what they can teach and how. Through the observation, I noticed that the classroom teachers learn from different readings and guides and then teach just the basic from the music curriculum.

Hoffer (1961) notes that some persons believe that classroom teachers are able to teach at least some important things about the music curriculum, but they need the help of the specialists with some workshops and advices. According to Gamble (1988, p. 26) 'the classroom teachers provide the fundamentals of learning that students use later throughout their lives'. This is right but I think it is apply just if the classroom teachers have help and support from a music specialist to give them some important guidance. Also Hoffer (1961, p. 45) states that 'some experiences have shown that classroom teachers even with the workshops, they cannot teach single-handedly a completely satisfactory music lesson'. In my view Hoffer is right and not the people, because it is logical that it is impossible for the classroom teachers to know everything about the music curriculum, because many years of experience are required and also further knowledge in music education especially practical in a university or a college.

Nevertheless there are some classroom teachers that wish not to teach music which is natural and they do it just because it is in their obligation to be able to teach all the subjects. In this case it seems that these teachers cannot teach music with success, because every teacher must like and find interesting the subject that he teaches in order to make the students also to be interested and concentrated on it. In contrast with music specialists who like to teach music and this is implicit and also this is the proof that they study it so many years and they teach it with so affection. This is also supported by Hoffer (1961, p. 45) who notes that 'some classroom teachers have extra music training and are proficient in teaching the subject but some others have no ability or interest in teaching music'. This means that some classroom teachers may have the music knowledge that a music specialist has and some others may have anything, because they do not like to accomplish with this subject.

Moreover Rainbow (1971, p. 1) states that 'the teacher who teaches music must be able to infect his students with his enthusiasm'. So the teacher must like music in order to be able to teach it to the students effectively and also to take out his feelings about music and make the students to feel the same. Both Hoffer and Rainbow mention the same statement and it seems to agree with my own view; that if the students see their classroom teachers during the music lesson to express a bad feeling about music or that they do not want to teach it, then the students will ignore the lesson and will not be interested. But with music specialists this will not happen, because they all like music and teach it with very enthusiasm. Classroom teachers it seems that due to the non-training about music education who have, feel that they cannot teach music and they have lack of confidence. They do not know if they teach on the right way or not and if the students are able to understand what he teaches them. This is also supported by Jeanneret (1997, p. 37) who notes that from a research that she did in some countries like Australia, Great Britain and North America, 'the classroom teachers are responsible to teach music in their classrooms and they have a negative attitude towards music and lack of confidence to teach it'.

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In my view a good point for the classroom teachers to teach music is that they know better the students; their character, their preferences because they are all the day together and they can teach them better regarding their interests. This is also supported by Mills (2005) who notes that the students can learn more things by a classroom teacher who knows them will rather than a teacher who is expert in music, but he does not know how the students work and their personalities. So this is a disadvantage for the music specialists who see the students just once a week and they cannot come close enough to them in order to know what they like to listen or how each student like to work. According to Hoffer (1961, p. 45) if the classroom teachers do not contribute in the music lesson, then the music program will become detached from the rest of the school curriculum. From that angle, he is right, because all the subjects are taught from classroom teachers and if the teachers leave out music is like ignoring music as a subject or considering music as a subject of less importance.

According to Hennessy (1998), classroom teachers think that they cannot teach music, because they have no background in music education and they cannot read music. Hennessy (1998, p. 14) also mentions that 'these teachers usually have the abilities to play by ear, improvise and accomplish better with pop, folk or jazz styles'. Personally I find my self disagree with this, because the classroom teachers are not in the position to teach music so well, if they do not have just a bit background of music education or if they do not attend a music workshop before. It seems these to be important, because they have to receive the main elements of music and some good teaching methods in order to be able to deliver the music curriculum to the students and have a successfully music lesson. According to an Ofsted report (Making more of music: Improving the quality of music teaching in primary schools, 2009, p. 3) the classroom teachers are able to 'provide a good music teaching when they are supported effectively'. It seems that the author wants to states that if the classroom teacher has help and useful guides from the music specialist, then he will be able to teach music well. This is a difference between a classroom teacher and a music specialist. The music specialist can teach music curriculum alone with his own mind, experiences and knowledge, but the classroom teacher needs a support to be able to starts and complete his teaching.

Mills (2005, p. 28) notes that 'good teaching leads to students learning'. By this, she wants to tell us that there is no importance if the teacher that teaches music has a music degree; if is the music specialist or the classroom teacher. The most important is that anybody from these teachers who teach music must do it very effective. According to Hennessy (1998) the classroom teachers are able to teach until year 4, because the music curriculum is easier to teach it at this stage, but in years 5-6 the music specialists are more able to teach it, because it is more complicated and more musical experience is required. The classroom teachers are able to teach during the beginning years, because except from a music guide to help them, they can also experiment easier and simple with the teaching and also using their fantasy. In later years this is difficult, because the standards go up and the music curriculum has more challenges towards the teacher. So a music specialist is more necessary to teach it, because he can infect to the students his music knowledge through his experiences and his abilities to the music activities.

To conclude, my own view is that music specialists can teach music more effectively than the classroom teachers at primary schools due to their experiences, their skills, their knowledge, their music training courses and the confidence they feel when they make in practice all of these. They know how to organise the music lesson better and how to teach each part of the lesson such as the performance, the listening and the composing in order to have a formative lesson and the students to be interested and familiar with music. Nevertheless I believe that the classroom teachers if they have a bit background about music and with the help of music guide, they will be able to teach music as well but until an extent. This is because they have the advantage that they know the students very well and they teach them based on the general progress of the students and they also help each student separately to improve his skills.

Personally when I was a child in primary school my teacher was a music specialist and I gained a lot from her. That is why I believe that music specialists can teach music very effectively. She helped me to acquire the fundamental things which I had to know in music in that age and also to be interested in music. She taught me how to play some instruments, to sing, to learn some important elements of music such as the rhythm, notation, melody and different others. She did not know me and the other students very well, because she was seeing us just two days per week, but she was able to teach us music and also all the students were attend the lesson very carefully. Of course I am not sure if this happens with all the music specialists. As I mentioned above some authors state that this happen with the classroom teachers and that is an advantage for them to teach music better. So I think it is depends on the character of the teacher if he/she can teach music well and from his teaching methods except from his knowledge about music and not if he is a music specialist or not. The most important is the teacher; either the music specialist or the classroom teacher to transmit to the students his love and interest about music in order the students to be able to participate easier in the music lesson. All the weight and the organisation of the lesson is based on the teacher, because it depends on him if the lesson will be effective or not.