The State of Global Music Education

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Music education is in flux around the globe, due to both local issues and common concerns such as lack of funding, poor access, and competition with academic subjects. In many nations, the combination of evolving political situations and innovative research studies has prompted the emergence of newly progressive approaches to music education. Others, however, still struggle to provide comprehensive access to music education.

Despite the differences in approach and the variety of obstacles, music advocates in nations around the globe strive to improve access to and the outcomes of music education. Discover some of the global trends and issues in music education and learn why music educators should maintain a global focus in their classrooms.

Importance of Music Education Should Reflect Real-World Applications

In many nations, music and culture figure prominently into the national identity and even make substantial contributions to the economy. While the United Kingdom’s music industry generates over $100 billion per year, as The Guardian states, industry experts lament the lack of importance that the U.K. government places on music education in K-12 or higher education schools.

Irish music and performance have long enjoyed widespread appeal and international success, but like the U.K. educational system, Irish public schools typically offer fragmented opportunities for music education. As the International Society for Music Education explains, this troubled system may improve soon. The Irish government recently launched Creative Ireland, which aims to provide comprehensive music, art, and coding education for all Irish schoolchildren. This initiative will strive to enable creativity, engage Irish citizens in cultural pursuits, and reinvest in the nation’s celebrated culture.

In the United Arab Emirates, educators have also drawn on the importance of the nation’s cultural industry. The recent or upcoming debut of many museums, performing arts centers, and other cultural opportunities has promoted a renewed emphasis on the importance of arts education. The National explains that the Abu Dhabi Education Council recently announced its first comprehensive art and music program for its public school system, with much of it designed by professional artists in the UAE.

A music student practices.
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Gamification Can Widen the Reach of Music Education

In the realm of music education, rising interest in gamification often stems from the understanding that not all students are equipped to learn music in the same way. For example, as The Guardian explains, musical notation can be very difficult for the average student to master, yet it remains a requirement in many professional programs around the world. This is one area where gamification can play a role in helping a wider range of students succeed.

According to The Economist, researchers at the University of Auckland have pioneered an augmented reality application that makes practicing music more interactive and enjoyable. The app uses VR goggles and a digital keyboard, and it even allows students to compete with one another or set their own individual goals.

Along the same lines, a recent TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon featured a virtual-reality-based platform for music learning and performance that encourages users to rethink how musical harmony and physical space intersect. Across the U.S., former sheet music sellers have begun to provide interactive and digital solutions to make music education more accessible to students of all interest and ability levels.

Increased Diversity Can Improve Music Education

While music teachers in individual nations come from similar backgrounds and have completed the same academic training, industry experts argue that more diversity in both training and instruction is necessary. As The Guardian states, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music requires educators to master and teach classical music and literacy rather than showing students how to create new music or even enjoy what they hear.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) explains that most teachers in the U.S. are white and middle-class and have a traditional music education. As classrooms themselves become more diverse, teachers must follow suit in order to educate and include their students effectively.

Students Can Benefit From a Global Approach to Music Education

Across the globe, the need for diversity in music education touches on more than teachers’ backgrounds and instruction styles. Educators are increasingly finding that a global approach to music education has a positive effect on both students and the music industry as a whole.

For instance, NAfME actively encourages music teachers to think globally. Inviting students to join international drum circles, for example, exposes students to more than just world music. It also helps students of all ages learn tolerance, appreciate differences, and develop the ability to work collaboratively. Taking this approach to music education can also give students another language in which to communicate with an increasingly globalized world.

Access to Music Education Requires Advocacy

From Great Britain to Chad and beyond, instructors, parents, and students are increasingly finding that music education is not always readily available. As Music in Africa explains, in Chad and Togo, many children receive much of their musical education at home, where they learn traditional songs from their mothers, as well as in religious choirs, where they learn to sing and make music.

Because not all pupils can access music instruction through public elementary or high schools, students have long sought out private lessons in exclusive settings. However, this is not accessible to everyone. Advocacy on the part of professional musicians and performers has paved the way toward Chad’s first music school, and a comprehensive cultural policy may be the next step.

While Great Britain has a longer history of incorporating music into the curriculum, as The Guardian explains, the recent introduction of the baccalaureate program has diminished the nation’s focus on music as an integral part of public education. This change means that music education is increasingly available only to families with private funding, suggesting that renewed advocacy may be necessary to reiterate the importance of and need for comprehensive music education.

However, some encouraging signs may be on the horizon. For example, the NAMM Foundation, an American nonprofit organization, continues to set positive examples for global music education. The NAMM Foundation’s generous $600,000 grant to 17 music programs around the world is just one example of the global advocacy that music education needs.

To make a difference in this rapidly evolving academic landscape, the instructors and leaders of tomorrow need a comprehensive, global education. Pursuing a Master of Music in music education at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University can help you become a more well-rounded educator and address certain global challenges with understanding, creativity, and passion.


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