A Study of Teachers, Composers and Original Works in a Pedagogical Context
This research project addresses the nature and function of compositions within the context of primary school music education. A longitudinal review of the literature, and the analysis of empirical data gathered in this research reveal the shortcomings between teachers’ expressed requirements and the currently available works. The researcher’s survey of over 1000 popular primary music resources by prominent Australian music education composers reveals the great majority are designed primarily for sing-alongs and basic percussion play-along. The melodic and rhythmic notational complexity of most of the music exceeds the music literacy level of all but a very small percentage of primary teacher graduates. It is intentionally published in a format that does not require music literacy.
Through qualitative research methods, including the analysis of data gathered within interviews with educational practitioners and composers from southeastern Australia, this project identifies and explores several deficiencies in music for primary school programs. The exegetical component of this research examines the nature and function of music used in Preparatory to Year 6 school music classes across Australia. This research also incorporates an extensive portfolio of original works for primary music education settings. The identified gaps between teachers’ expressed requirements and currently available songs and music, inform the nature and design of the accompanying portfolio. Underpinned by the research findings, the folio caters for the needs and ability levels of the least musically experienced trainee and graduate teachers, as well as the most musically proficient Kodaly and Orff practitioners.
The research undertaken within this project suggests the choice of compositions used by primary school music teachers in southeastern Australia is largely influenced by the musical and pedagogical expertise of the teachers themselves. Conflicting school issues, such as timetabling, resources and school performance expectations exacerbate the parlous state of primary school music education. The nature and function of compositions used in primary teaching is also influenced by the musical and educational ideologies of composers producing music teaching resources. The music teachers interviewed within this research voiced dissatisfaction with the limited flexibility and narrow application of many current resources. They expressed a need for instructional songs, concert items and thematic cross-discipline items. They voiced a preference for music that incorporates physicality: actions, dances, movement and instrumental performance. Their unanimous enthusiasm for music teaching resource publications that include digital projections, music recordings and videos of demonstration lessons also emerged as a theme within the data.
This project offers a practical, research-based resource for primary school music teachers. The exegetical component of the research includes a description of the musical and pedagogical design of the portfolio, and an explanation of the manner in which they address the identified gaps in educational resources.