Generalist teachers are being given more responsibility to teach music in their schools. Are pre-services teacher confident or competent to do this? The shift in responsibility to generalist teachers to teach music has posed many challenges. Hayworth (2011) asks are university lectures able to teach the pre-service teachers how to facilitate musical activates in the classroom within one unit of music study? (Heyworth, 2011).
Music is essential in the classroom. Van der Linde (1999, cited in Edwards, Bayless & Ramsey, 2005) believes that the importance of music and movement should not be underestimated. Research shows that there is a connection between music and the development of mathematical thinking, problem solving, improving coordination which aids muscular development, an outlet for creativity, allows students to express themselves and increases student’s self-esteem and self-confidence (Edwards et al., 2005).
It is sometimes all too easy to overlook the opportunity to expand on music experiences in the classroom. However as stated above, music is invaluable to children’s learning and development (Edwards et al., 2005). The quality of teaching is directly linked to the quality of the pre-service teacher’s preparation (Darling-Hammond, 2000, cited in Ballantyne, 2005). This is particularly true for teaching music (Ballantyne, 2005). Pre-services teachers need to develop a number of attributes in relation to pedagogy, content, ability, confidence, student learning, classroom management and their ability to self-reflect. Through expanding pre-service teacher’s knowledge and music awareness we will be better able to implement music in the classroom (Joseph & Heading, 2010).
Australian Music Education researchers have found that there is limited time, staffing and resources when preparing pre-services teachers for all the aspects of music and their use in the classroom (Ballantyne, 2005; Joseph & Heading, 2010). The time allocated to learning music in university cannot provide per-service teachers with adequate personal music skills, understanding of pedagogy and the ability to link classes to curriculum. This is especially true as there are a very small number of pre-service teachers who enter into university with the same depth of knowledge and experience in music, as they do in mathematics and English (School Music Action Group, 2007).
Lack of confidence in regards to music education for generalists is not uncommon (Heyworth, 2011). Leong (1996, cited in Ballantyne, 2005) stated that music teachers “were not very positive about their preservice education experience” (p.110). Research shows that 50% of undergraduate students were worried about their own perceived lack of musical ability at the start of their music course. Additionally, Holden and Button (2006, cited in Heyworth, 2011) found that students ranked music as the lowest subject in their confidence and ability to teach. They also felt that music was a specialist subject unlike any other subject in the national curriculum (Heyworth, 2011).
Pre-service teacher programs are designed to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge required to effectively teach music in the classroom. As the quality of teaching can be directly correlated with pre-service teacher preparation, it is important that pre-service teachers receive effective music education programs (Ballantyne, 2005). Zeichner and Liston (2003, cited in Ballantyne, 2005) suggested that there are four traditions in education that represent ways of viewing teacher education. These include Academic, Social Efficiency, Developmentalist and Social Reconstructionist (Ballantyne, 2005).
The Academic Tradition focuses on disciplinary knowledge for pre-service teachers. In this tradition the “mastery of subject matter is the most important goal in the education of teachers” (Zeichner & Liston, 1990. P.4, cited in Ballantyne, 2005). Therefore, pre-services teachers should be educated in music, in the company of experienced music teachers (Ballantyne, 2005). Social Efficiency Tradition provides the building blocks for teacher education curriculum. Here competencies are specified along with criteria to measure mastery of these competencies (Ballantyne, 2005). The Developmentalist Tradition states that the development of the learner determines what should be taught. According to Fuller (1969, cited in Ballantyne, 2005) if teacher education programs are influenced by pre-service teachers developmental needs, it will guide them towards maturity as a teacher. Lastly, the Social Reconstructionist Tradition encourages students to look towards a more just society and aim to break poverty cycles. This is done by teaching pre-service teachers how to teach in low-income areas, where the access to music equipment and resources may be limited (Ballantyne, 2005).
According to Campbell & Brummett (2007, cited in Joseph & Heading, 2010) practical experiences is what provides pre-services teachers with the ‘hands on’ experiences where they initially develop competencies, confidence, music knowledge and understand student learning. Pre-services teachers need to develop and expand their professional pedagogy and have the opportunity to self-reflect in order to be effective generalist teachers and teachers of music (Joseph & Heading, 2010).
When pre-service teachers engage in music education with the help and support of teachers and peers, they construct and form their own understanding and experiences of music (Joseph & Heading, 2010).
Ballantyne, J. (2005). Effectiveness of preservice music teacher education programs: Perceptions of early-career music teachers. Centre for Innovation in Education.
Edwards, L. C., Bayless, K. M., & Ramsey M. E. (2005). Expert from music: A way of life for the young child (5th ed.). Person Education.
Heyworth, J. (2011). Jumping through ‘loops’: A reflective study on preparing generalist pre-service teachers to teach music. Issues in Education Research, 20(3). Retrieved from http://www. iier. org.au /iier21/heyworth.pdf.
Joseph, D., & Heading, M. (2010). Putting theory into practice: Moving from student identity to teacher identity. Australian Journal of Teaching Education, 35(3). Doi:10.14221/ajte.2010v35n3.6.
School Music Action Group. (2007). Victorian Music Workshop Report. Retrieved from http://leo.acu .edu.au/pluginfile.php/1179076/mod_resource/content/2/Vic%20Music%20Workshop%20report%20May.pdf
I definitely agree that there is limited time, staffing and resources available when it comes to preparing generalist pre-service teachers with the adequate skills to incorporate music into the classroom. Despite the numerous studies that outline the benefits of integrating music into the classroom, universities do not place enough emphasis on developing pre-service teachers with the specific pedagogical content knowledge and skills required for teaching music education (Ballantyne, 2005). Our Masters of Teaching course only devotes 18 hours of class time to music whereas 72 hours of class time is devoted to mathematics. As Sarah outlined above, a very small number of pre-service teachers enter into university with the same depth of knowledge and experience in music as they do in mathematics yet an extra 54 hours of class time is dedicated to mathematics. It is bizarre to think that pre-service teachers will develop the adequate skills and confidence required to teach music in their future classroom after undertaking 18 hours of music in university. A majority of schools no longer have access to a specialist music teacher therefore it is vital to ensure that generalist primary school teachers gain the confidence and pedagogical knowledge to utilise music in the classroom (De Vries, 2013). No child should be denied the right to have access to a music education in their primary years of schooling just because music is not adequately covered in pre-service teacher programs. It is time for the Government, universities, teachers, and parents to start viewing music with the respect and importance that maths and English automatically receive.
Ballantyne, J. (2005). Effectiveness of preservice music teacher education programs: Perceptions of early-career music teachers. Centre for Innovation in Education. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/16074/1/Julie_Ballantyne_Thesis.pdf
De Vries, P. (2013). Generalist teachers’ self-efficacy in primary school music teaching, Music Education Research, 15:4, 375-391, DOI: 10.1080/14613808.2013.829427
Firstly l would like to say l agree with the importance and required focus on music education for Pre-Services Teachers. This importance is evident by the Victorian Music Workshop Report (School Music Action Group, 2007) showing there is a lack of musical competence in the existing teacher workforce. It is estimated that more than 75,000 Australian teachers are unable to deliver a music curriculum. As you suggest, to teach Pre-Service teachers in the company of experience music teachers (Ballantyne, 2005) will help greatly. However when Pre-Service Teachers leave University, it raises questions for me. What happens when the Pre-Service Teachers leave the support of these music teachers? Some courses give 6 weeks to music education and I question if this enough for Pre-Service teachers to deliver music curriculum solely and effectively once reaching the classroom. Do general primary school teachers need more than one unit in music? Your closing statement somewhat addresses the concerns I have.
“When pre-service teachers engage in music education with the help and support of teachers and peers, they construct and form their own understanding and experiences of music (Joseph & Heading, 2010). “
So, I agree we do need Pre-Service teachers to be engaged and thinking about music through education at university, but also believe that Pre-Service Teachers also need support once they reach school. This support should come from music education support services which are: advisory teachers, curriculum specialists and music education officers who have the goal of improving the quality of, and access to, music learning. This support is lacking today and is conducive to the poor status of music education, as are Pre-Service Teachers who are not engaged in music.
In relation to my last question on how much education in music a Pre-Service Teacher requires, I believe there is no practical reason to increase this beyond one unit. We can’t expect a general teacher to become solely adequate in music. What we can hope for after one unit is to open Pre-Services Teachers eyes to the value of music in the curriculum and for them to start planning how music can improve their lessons. This is where advisory teachers, curriculum specialists and music education officers assist to bring the plans to life. Therefore Pre-Service teachers need music education support services to be re-introduced in schools to support them. We all need to express the importance of the role that music education plays in teaching “the whole child” as conceptualised by Suzuki (Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly, Suzuki, MLT).
Ballantyne, J. (2005). Effectiveness of preservice music teacher education programs:
Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly, Suzuki, MLT Approaches to Music Education
School Music Action Group (2007) Victorian Music Workshop Report
This topic is very interesting and close to my research as I presented a case for the increased training for specialist music teachers. I found similar research on the lack of preparedness of generalist primary teachers for teaching music, only 37% of surveyed first year primary generalist teachers report teaching music in their classroom, despite only 17% of the same group of teachers reporting that their school had access to a specialist music teacher (De Vries, 2011). The sad reality is that many schools are relying solely on generalist teachers to teach music and turning a blind eye to the fact that they are not, with many many students missing out on their fundamental human right of an arts education (UNESCO, 2006). In my piece I argue that trusting music education to generalist teachers has shown to be ineffective overall and that the Queensland model (most schools in have access to a specialist music teacher) should be implemented, however, I do agree with you that any increase in music training in any of our future teachers is a positive step.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on a program for pre-service generalist teachers at Griffith University that I came across in my research. Students undertaking a Bachelor of Popular music volunteer to assist Education students to “teach themselves” an instrument of their choice over the duration of the semester (Ballantyne, 2009). Students were able to select their own repertoire, and by the end of semester were competent enough to perform popular music on their instrument, and many continued playing their instrument after the end of the course (Ballantyne, 2009). To me, this seems like an incredibly beneficial program for both Education student and Music student. As someone who has recently begun teaching music privately as a job, I would benefit greatly in my understanding of teaching if I was given the opportunity to do this as part of the course. I’m curious to hear what others who may not have had much instrumental experience would think of this scheme?
Ballantyne, J. (2009, February). Bee Gees To Boat People. Griffith Review , 23.
De Vries, P. (2011). First year generalist primary school teachers: What music are they teaching? . Making Sound Waves: Diversity, Unity, Equity: Proceedings of the XVIII National Conference (pp. 164-169). Parkville, VIC: Australian Society for Music Education.
UNESCO. (2006). Road Map for Arts Education. The World Conference on Arts Education: Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century (p. 3). Lisbon: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
I agree that we need specialized teachers in music as they have a better understanding of the topic. However some schools cannot afford to have specialized teachers and so it would be practical to give the general teachers the necessary tools they need in order to teach music. It would also be beneficial for these teachers to learn a new skill and have familiarity in a different area of teaching as well. Teaching generalizes pre-service teachers also has it benefits in other subject areas, as they will learn to incorporate music into their other curriculums. So I do think it would be beneficial to teach generalized teachers music.
Colwell, R. & Davidson, L. (1996). Musical Intelligence and the Benefits of Music Education. NASSP bulletin, 80(583), 55-64.
It appears to me that we all have similar ideas about the need for more training as pre-service teachers in music education. I am definitely of the same school of thought. Especially considering our own experiences, with just 6 short weeks of music education, and for me personally, very limited prior knowledge in the area, I’m not sure how confident I will feel teaching music in the classroom, as stated by Sarah this is not uncommon for generalist teachers. I think a big question relevant to this discussion is how much training will be enough? I ask myself would one full unit of music education give me the confidence to teach music well? Rosie’s research into education at Griffiths University in Queensland is very interesting and could very well be a way to give teachers the confidence they need. Definitely teaching music when I have no idea how to play an instrument myself is an idea I struggle with. Being taught to play an instrument I believe would be a very insightful way to learn more about music, while at the same time gaining some of the numerous skills and benefits to be gained from music education as discussed in almost every blog-post, are we not, after all, currently students ourselves with all the same social, emotional, and cognitive gains to be made from music education?
Ballantyne, J. (2009, February). Bee Gees To Boat People. Griffith Review , 23.
Heyworth, J. (2011). Jumping through ‘loops’: A reflective study on preparing generalist pre-service teachers to teach music. Issues in Education Research, 20(3). Retrieved from http://www.iier.org.au /iier21/heyworth.pdf.
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