Music to the ears (not)
The quality of music education has recently come under the microscope of the Victorian government.
A study into the quality of music education in Victoria, by Monash University researcher Dr Peter de Vries from the Faculty of Education, comes at a time when the government’s education and training committee will examine how well music is taught at primary and secondary schools.
Dr de Vries said the research, involving 112 first-year primary teachers from Victoria, found that music teaching was not of the highest quality in Australia.
“Music is supposed to be an integral part of the primary school curriculum,” Dr de Vries said.
“Teaching of music is predominantly the responsibility of generalist classroom teachers and our research found only 37 per cent of primary teachers were teaching music regularly.”
The study found the reasons for the poor quality of teaching included lack of confidence of generalist teachers to teach music, lack of time devoted to music education in pre-service teacher education courses, a crowded curriculum that privileges literacy and numeracy, lack of professional development opportunities in music education, and lack of adequate resources to teach music.
Currently conducting follow-up interviews some of these teachers now three years out, Dr de Vries has found the same problems still exist: lack of support for music education in the schools they teach in, lack of confidence to teach music, and lack of professional development opportunities in music education for generalist classroom teachers.
“Research clearly points to the value quality music education has in the primary school years, so there needs to be teachers who feel confident and supported to teach quality music education in primary schools,” Dr de Vries said.
“Music needs to be better supported in our primary schools so teachers are equip properly to teach quality music. Specialist music teachers, resources, and professional development in music education for our teachers would be key in ensuring this occurs.”