UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Chong, Sylvia Nguik Yin
Dissertation (Ed.D), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Leonhard, C.
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Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 
The purpose of this study was to trace the evolution of the general music education programme in primary schools in Singapore from 1959 to 1990. From this central issue grew related concerns. These related concerns involved the development of the prevailing philosophical basis of the primary school's general music education programme, the development of objectives, teaching methods, allocation of instructional time, availability of instructional materials and equipment and the preparation of music teachers. Sources for the study included published and unpublished documents prepared by the Ministry of Education, annual parliamentary education reports, regulations and syllabi issued by the Ministry between 1959 and 1990. A questionnaire was devised for distribution to all general music teachers currently teaching in primary schools. This was designed to secure factual information that would contribute to the overall picture. Sixty teachers with a minimum of seven years of teaching experience were interviewed. Two music specialists from the Ministry of Education and two Music Lecturers from the Institute of Education were also interviewed. The investigator concluded that: (1) General music education in the primary schools in Singapore is geared largely to singing. (2) Although the syllabi issued by the Ministry of Education represent an attempt to represent the four language streams, in reality the operational conception of music education and curriculum organization is based to a great extent on Western models. The music used is almost entirely tonal and uses Western rhythms. (3) Mand music teachers do not have sufficient training to put the current music programme fully into effect. More intensive music teacher education would have the result of bridging the gap between theory and practice in the teaching of general music. (4) Groundwork for a music programme of excellent quality unique to the cultural needs of the children of Singapore has been laid.
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