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Taking stock of school music education in Victoria: the lessons of history in the present context of the national review
conference contributionposted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Robin Stevens
The National Review of School Music Education represents a unique opportunity to identify and find solutions to some of the very long-standing problems in Australian school music education, particularly in the government school sector. This paper is based on the premise that there are lessons to be learned from the over 150 years of music education in Victorian government schools and that it is only by considering the current status, provision and quality of school music from an historical perspective and resolving emergent issues that effective and worthwhile music education can be provided for future generations of Australian students. Developments in school music education since the 1850s are discussed and analysed in terms of the present-day issues to be addressed by National Review and a number of mutually-dependent factors are identified as combining to produce almost cyclic patterns of ebb and flow in the status, provision and quality of music education in Victoria. The paper identifies several such factors requiring immediate attention including the inadequacy of generalist primary teacher education in music, what has effectively become the extra-curricular status of music in many government schools, and the more recent problems associated with 'the over-crowded curriculum' and the emergence of The Arts as the generic Key Learning Area in which Music now finds itself as just one of many arts disciplines. The paper concludes by making three key recommendations for consideration in the context of the current National Review of School Music Education.