Recent national and international documents dealing with education and the arts attributed poor teaching of music in primary schools to inadequacies in the training of primary teachers. Most frequently reported problems associated with the training of teachers in music education were students' lack of confidence and their low musical ability.
Against this background, a study was undertaken to examine the extent to which participation in a music education course during pre-service training advanced the musical skills, music teaching ability, musical sensitivity and attitudes towards music of students who become general primary teachers. This paper reports data on the influence of pre-service training on attitudes to music and to music teaching.
The investigation confirmed general primary pre-service teachers' low perception of their competence and confidence as music teachers and established that any limited gains in music and music teaching skills were offset by them enjoying and valuing music and music education ]ess. A model of music education is forwarded both as a further means of interpreting the data and as a basis for the potential refocussing of the music curriculum.
A study, which is reported fully in Gifford (1991), was undertaken to examine the extent to which participation in a music education course during pre-service training advanced the musical skills, music teaching ability, musical sensitivity, and attitudes towards music of students who become general primary teachers. Since the musical background of students and their preferred learning styles were known and since the quality of instruction by staff was high as measured by students evaluation of music courses, factors that moderate the effects of training could be identified. This article reports data on the influence of pre-service training on attitudes to music and to music teaching.
The sample comprised 123 students completing the first-level course in music education, 329 students completing the second-level course, 26 'music majors' who also were enrolled in the general primary teaching degree, and 210 graduates who in the previous year had completed a three-year Diploma of Teaching (Primary) at Griffith University and were at the time of the study teaching in schools in Queensland.
Cross-sectional data were collected by administering the MAQ to first-level students in the third week of their course and to second-level students in the eighth week of their course. Students majoring in music completed the MAQ in the third week of their final semester. As the instrument was administered in class time, the return rate was close to 100 per cent. The graduate teachers completed the MAQ eight months into their first year of teaching. The response rate to the postal survey was 59 per cent. Longitudinal data also were obtained by administering the MAQ to the same students (N=91) during the first-level course and the second-level course.
All groups placed co nsiderable emphasis on music education in primary schools. The music majors and the graduates perceived music education as more important than either the first-level or second-level trainees did. There was a slight decrement in the perceived importance of music education between first-level and second-level. Consistent with this decrement, second-level students valued and appreciated most aspects of music less than first-level students. Respondents overall reported that they least enjoyed attending 'classical music' concerts, and they indicated limited experience or understanding of ethnic music. Although most indicated that music was important to them personally, the rating was often given to whether specific aspects of music were valued or appreciated as 'average'. All groups expressed very positive attitudes to 'popular' music, and there was limited change in ratings on this attribute over the stages in training.
While all respondents believed that their own education at the training institution was quite worthwhile and enjoyable, second-level students (and to a lesser extent the recent graduates who now were teaching) were less positive than first-level students. The music majors were only slightly more positive than the first-level students towards their music training. Students nevertheless assessed their own musical ability as being marginally higher at the second-level than at the first-level of training. As well as believing they were more able to plan for music, they felt more confident in implementing a range of musical experiences in music classes. The graduates who were now teaching were more confident of their ability as music teachers than the pre-service students, particularly in the area of lesson planning. However, despite these differences the respondents overall, whether trainees or graduates, did not feel very competent or confident as music educators.
Although they anticipated difficulty in teaching music, many respondents (and particularly the recent graduates) expressed hesitancy over seeking support. Music resource teachers were identified as the most preferred source of assistance, and school principals as the least preferred source. Only the music majors rated the training institution positively as a source of assistance. There were differences over the stages of training in the extent respondents saw the need for music 'kits' or a pre-planned 'package' of resources to be provided to teachers. A]though first-level students and the music majors were less positive about such materials than second-level students or the recent graduates, all groups preferred to develop their music programs in consultation with a specialist music resource teacher rather than to exercise complete autonomy.
The model of music development in childhood formulated by Swanwick and Tillman (1986), and subsequently extended by Swanwick (1988) to music education in general, provides a basis not only for understanding the trends identified in the present study, but for pursuing an alternative approach to the music education of trainee teachers. The development spiral shown in Figure 1 summarises this model. An aspect of interest is that the left-hand side and the right-hand side of the spiral balance musical encounter with musical instruction (Swanwick, 1988, p.123). The music courses which the respondents in the present study completed were positioned on the right-hand side of the spiral. Students were involved with music in the context of instruction rather than encounter. Course content was developed and taught very much in terms of pre-specified or behavioural objectives. For example, technical ability in playing instruments such as the recorder was given high priority, as was the ability to sing in tune and to use solfa with hand-signs. Assessed also was knowledge of musical theory and even the mass curriculum theory lectures were focused more on what children could do in terms of being able to 'list', 'classify', 'apply', 'contrast', 'differentiate', 'identify', 'produce', 'demonstrate', and so on. This is in contrast to using words such as 'understand', 'value', 'enjoy', 'respond to', and 'use imagination'. Furthermore, instruction is also evident in terms of the vernacular, idiomatic and systematic characteristics which are featured on the right-hand side of the spiral. Established musical conventions and traditional forms of repertoire and notation are central aspects of the courses. This concentration on the 'public domain' - skill mastery, the conventions of the musical vernacular, idiomatic authenticity and the systematic extension of musical possibilities, seems to have overshadowed and possibly ignored the potential richness of musical encounter which are the characteristics of the left-hand side of the spiral. The exploration of the sensory qualities of sound, personal expressiveness, student speculation and a commitment to the symbolic significance of music will be central to both teaching and learning.
Central to the notion of musical encounter is musical criticism: the ability to interpret sensitively and encourage the musical engagements of individuals. For Swanwick (1988, p.130) 'the effectiveness and insightfulness of this criticism derives substantially from the quality of the teacher's own musical encounters and the ability to reflect upon them'.
It is not a new music curriculum that is being advocated here but a music education which responds to both sides of the dialectic; one where instruction and encounter both have important roles. The role of formal music education then is not just to develop skilled musicians but to enable general primary teachers to be musical critics both in their own in their students' responses to musical performance, listening and composition. What is proposed is that the pre-service teachers, while certainly being required to develop some musical skills commensurate with the limited time available to do this, will develop a sensitivity to musical processes and an understanding of what makes music musical. Therefore, the role of the teacher as music critic is seen as more important than being a model of a skilled musician. It seems that any attempt to train musicians may result in some limited positive gains in terms of improved teaching skills but this is off-set by music involvement being less valued and enjoyed and a greater reluctance to be involved in music education generally.
It appears, for a music curriculum for pre-service teachers to be effective within the constraints set by a range of factors, that there needs to be an interaction between instruction and encounter. Given this, it is sugges ted that the central role for the general primary school music teacher in responding to childrens' music making and music taking is that of an imaginative musical critic which is rooted in sensitive musical encounters. In this way, perhaps teachers will assess their ability to teach music not just in terms of how musically skilful they are, but just as importantly, in terms of their ability to respond to their students' work in a musically sensitive way.
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (1982) The Arts in Schools. Principles, Practice and Provision, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London.
Cleave, S. & Sharp, S. (1986) The Arts, A Preparation to Teach - Initial Training for Primary Teachers, NFER, London.
Commonwealth Department of Education (1985) Action: Education and the Arts, Report of the Task Force on Education and the Arts to the Minister for Eduction and Youth Affairs, AGPS, Canberra.
Gifford, E. (1989) The Development and Validation of a Music Attitude Questionnaire for Music Program Evaluation in Teacher Training, unpublished MEd Dissertation, School of Education, Tasmanian State Institute of Technology, Launceston, Tasmania.
Gifford, E. (1990) 'The Development and Validation of a Music Attitude Questionnaire for Music Program Evaluation in Teacher Training - A Pilot Study', in The Journal of Proceedings of the VIIth National Conference of the Australian Society for Music Education, Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Gifford, E. (1991) An Investigation into Factors Affecting the Quality of Music Education in Pre-service Teacher Training, unpublished PhD thesis, London University Institute of Education, London.
Mills, J. (1989) 'The generalist primary teachers of music; a problem of confidence', British Journal of Music Education, 6, 2, 125-138, Cambridge University Press.
SPSS Inc. (1988) SPSS-X User's Guide, 3rd edn, SPSS Inc., Chicago.
Swanwick, K. & Tillman, J. (1986) 'The sequence of musical development', British Journal of Music Education, 3, 3, November, Cambridge University Press.
Swanwick, K (1988) Music, Mind and Education, London, Routledge.
|Please cite as: Gifford, E. F. (1993). Why is pre-service training in music for general primary teachers so unsuccessful? Queensland Researcher, 9(3), 28-35. http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qr9/gifford.html|