Music Education: Cultural Values, Social Change and Innovation


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A hundred years ago

We are the largest private provider of music education program in Australian classrooms, with a diverse program across the country, including in regional and remote areas. Last year, MVIS musicians travelled over , kilometres to deliver music education programs to over , students through 1, concerts, workshops and residencies as well as providing direct training for over teachers p. We pride ourselves on providing broad, high quality music education programs for primary and secondary students which range from live performance to digital learning, through to extended residencies, intensive workshops, accessible resources and live interactive videoconferencing events.

Our musicians cover a wide range of music genres, from operatic performance groups to rap, Indonesian, African and Latin American ensembles, exposing students to over unique instruments from the viola de gamba to the trombone, harp and waterphone. Our national research work a few years ago indicated two big factors that would sway classroom teachers to engage more consistently with music.

Teachers were clamouring for digitally sophisticated resources to engage students on their own terms more readily, and access to a deeper exploration of Australian Indigenous culture.


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We set ourselves the challenge of addressing the identified gaps, partnering with relevant organisations whenever possible. Quick forward a few years to , most notably with the support of Rio Tinto and DEEWR, and Musica Viva unveiled digital resources for interactive whiteboards , linked to our live music program.

These new resources were automatically provided to anyone who booked MVIS, as well as providing them with the training to implement these resources in the classroom. Suddenly children had interactive digital music lessons, filled with fun-to-use activities to develop deeper musical understanding, plus high quality video material to familiarise the children with music styles as diverse as Balkan folk, Indonesian gamelan, early Western music and contemporary multi-media. But that is changing the game for those students engaged with Musica Viva In Schools. What about the rest of the children?

For many years, we have built our programs on the premise that empowering the classroom teacher is the only sure-fire way to introduce real change in school music education, as most other interventions are necessarily short-lived. The group performs throughout Israel, serving as an incentive for members of the program who regard these fellow students with admiration. The young musicians were all very excited and practiced enthusiastically in anticipation of meeting Maestro Mehta. In addition, four young soloists were chosen to play for the Maestro.

Watch the video below to hear the children playing for and with Maestro Mehta. The children leave the program knowing far more than how to play an instrument — they are instilled with a sense of leadership, teamwork, discipline and accomplishment. While initially focused on children in peripheral areas and in underprivileged communities, the ultimate goal of the program is to offer basic musical training to each and every youngster in Israel, promoting social change through the collective practice of music.

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Each year the KeyNote program reaches over 29, Israeli children and is off to a phenomenal start with events targeting diverse groups. Mission Music is a language. It really provides a bridge among various cultures, and the children receive an instrument that can help them be successful anywhere in the world and get ahead.

Experience Over the course of the program children are given intensive musical instruction, enabling them to gather and play in an orchestra within three months of picking up an instrument. But since she began playing the piano she has something she loves to do! However, the adult conceptions and assumptions of what children know, like, and can do has been challenged, questioned, and critiqued in the literature.

Kathryn Marsh spoke of Orff as following a model in which 'Playlikeness' is equated with simple repetitive structures, materials with a restricted rhythmic and tonal palette, and use of movement to develop musical understanding, which make many false assumption,s about the relative simplicity of children's musical play.

The problem is that simple musical materials tend to be overemphasized in classroom practice. ABRIL night e. Although the i: nmg. Arnold Walter believed! This notion has proven to. Children's musical lives are more sophisticated than we may give them credit fm; as evidenced in the ways children are able to recognize, speak about, and perform music of their culture.

Pedagogical songs, or songs composed by an adult to teach a particular musical concept or to limit pitches or tonality are used in some general music workshops, courses, and even in publications. They have a pedagogical purpose, but they lack an authentic cultural root and are often of questionable relevance and musicality. In her article titled, "So Why So Mi?


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  5. They withhold musical information and experiences and require children to master one step before moving onto the next, treating certain melodies, intervals or songs as potential interference to their sequence. This form of pedagogy can lead to experiences that are of disconnected meaning and little relevance in the lives of students. Learning and Teaching As in the ethnocentric belief that musrc history followed a linear progression of evolution, some believe that learning- and teaching- should follow a similarly neat and tidy developmental trajectory.

    Current research suggests otherwise. Learning is thought to be most effective when someone is met with real challenges and problems that require creative and critical thinking to solve Robinson, In his much discussed and viewed TEDtalk, Sir Ken Robinson calls out for the dismantling of overly linear and sequential approaches to teaching.

    The Orff teaching process, which has been described as the essence of its pedagogy Shamrock, , has been subjected to scrutiny as well. Benedict asserted that its systematic nature can be problematic insofar as that structure or order process and sequence is delivered in an automatic fashion and takes "the place of critical thought and agency, and ABRIL ,the Maud Hickey , who has spent her career researching and teaching composition and improvisation, questioned the need for music teachers to start with small, rhythmic building blocks and patterns as "prerequisites for imitation," p.

    Assumptions about children's capabilities, development, and artistry have lead to pedagogical practices that can be limiting, disconnected from the multicultural and complex culture of contemporary childhood, and overly rigid in their delivery. Collective evidence from the Orff Echo journal and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association National Conference, where these I es to fundamental ideas are reinforced and preserved, support this perception from the profession.

    Is Orff Schulwerk always an approach as practiced today? At of its edict what point does it become a method or an ideology? Conceptually, Orff Schulwerk is not supposed to be a method, as Orff 1r as practitioners and presenters will often remark. However, it can be viewed natic as methodological in both the practices and products of the Schulwerk. In her critique of Orff and Kodaly, she writes: It is not the concept of these methods that needs to be done away with; both Orff and Kod:ily envisioned musical processes that sprang from the innate desire to experience and create as a social, musical engagement.

    Rather, it is a need to interrogate the indiscriminate embracing of these methods as a possible form of control and coercion, as well as the possible appropriation of musicking as a way to increase the social capital of music teachers. He states: "From the perspective of methodolatry, then, "good teaching is simply a matter of the standard use of a 'good method. We must be cautious not to fall into what Robinson refers to as the tyranny of common sense, where people are afraid, unwilling, or unable to challenge their beliefs and ideologies.

    The time to worry is when mders the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is rites: so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense.


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    The moment we are no longer willing to critique 2 ourselves or speak out without fem; we have become victim to blind faith. Faith may have a place in our lives, but we must question whether it is ns of appropriate in education. The scholars, whose works are discussed in this :erials chapter, are not saying the ideas of Orff and Keetman should be discarded.

    Music Education: Cultural Values, Social Change and Innovation

    Stating that any one approach is truth or the best is dangerous; we move from having a methodology to serve s and learning to being an idea we revere and idolize. The educational philosophe1; 'ith a John Dewey , warned us that "For any theory and set of practices is :ation dogmatic which is not based upon critical examination of its own underlying nicist principles" p. From ter of Lessons from the Field i' emed ' The question the professor I described in the opening posed to me in my tod is interview lingered with me long after I graduated from the program.

    What ult to was most valuable to me from that experience was not the question itself or my response. What mattered was the inquisitive and critical disposition she!

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    How might a question like Lnson hers or critiques such as the ones presented in this chapter change our ways fraid, of thinking and acting as music educators in general and as practitioners of lassie Orff Schulwerk in particular? I contend that approaches and methods to teaching music, both new and old, must be critically understood, examined, and reimagined for their potential in education.

    We must also engage in substantive dialogues about the need to rethink our curriculum and instruction in the twenty-first century, a time and context that is drastically different from when Orff Schulwerk was developed in Europe. Our future as general music educators might require our corning together in some new, innovative, and revolutionary way. We must not fear interrogating our common-sense practices, past actions, and revered teachers. People interested in Orff and music teaching should be in the business of finding ways to engage children in meaningful and relevant music learning and making, helping children become more curions about the world around them, and developing their artistry and humanity.

    Let the music play!

    References Benedict, C. Methods and approaches.

    Abeles and L. Custodero Eds. New York: Oxford University Press. Benedict, C.

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    Music education: cultural values, social change and innovation | Griffith University

    Processes of alienation: Marx, Orff and Kodaly. British Journal of Music Education, 26 2 , Bennett, P. So, Why Sol-Mi? Music Educators Journal, 91 3 , Calantropio, S. Merging and emerging: The path of Orff Schulwerk. Orff Echo, 43 1 ,

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