Beginnings of music education in the Philippines

TWO years ago, we suddenly found ourselves in a new normal. Since then, we have had much reduced social ties. Without assurance that this situation will end, the adverse consequences of lockdowns and mobility restrictions continue in many parts of our country. Although a little less strict in some areas, this situation has caused us a lot of loneliness, mental health threats, anxiety, stress and depression. Faced with this experience and faithful to faith in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, we turn to music to find the comfort we need. Given this, we are finding better ways to teach music education online.

History of ancient musical education. Three different contexts provide the context for music education in the Philippines. Music education can be provided to a community within the framework of a people’s culture. Another framework is a country’s basic youth education and a third is a college program that could lead to a professional career in music education or music performance. (Borromeo nd). Reminiscent of its beginnings, formal music education in the Philippines dates back to the 1500s when Spanish colonizers introduced Western music to the islands. “Solfege, vocalization and composition” were part of the actual musical training taught in schools “established by Church missionaries and music teachers” (Del Valle nd). As in any tradition, music education in the Philippines has seen relative changes with respect to curriculum content and structure. ( › files › public › Mr.)

Mid-years. The Music Education Act of Republic Act (RA) 4723 passed in 1966 provided for the teaching of music and art as a separate subject at the elementary level and the teaching of music once a week for one hour at the secondary level (Yamzon, 1972). The second RA 5523 enacted in 1968 benefited music education by creating various school division positions providing for ten (10) music supervisory positions in ten school divisions of the former Public Schools Office. With the publication of the revised primary school curriculum of 1970, music and the arts were treated as separate subjects allocating 3 days a week to music and 2 days to the arts. The initial implementation of the aforementioned laws firmly entrenched music in the curriculum of public and private schools across the country ( ›… › Music)

21st century. Major changes in the K-12 reforms introduced music as a regular subject from grades 1-10 and the introduction in high school of the arts and design stream which serves as a preparation stream for future careers in higher music education. ( › article › Music-Education…). Music education pedagogy aimed at teaching learners the basic concepts and processes in music, to appreciate, analyze and perform for the personal development of the learner, to understand the main characteristics of Philippine music and art and of the world. This pedagogy sought to inculcate the celebration of Filipino cultural identity and diversity and the expansion of the learner’s worldview. ( › K_to_.12_Curriculum_Gui..) A bachelor’s degree in education, usually majoring in MAPEH and graduating with a master’s degree in music education, must pass the teacher’s license exam to be officially a teacher of music.

Music conservatories. Students wishing to study music performance instead enroll in a performance and composition section of a music department more formally labeled as a music conservatory. In addition to honing students in musical composition, a conservatory teaches students to perform, such as playing musical instruments and singing. The Britannica informs that the term “conservatory” is derived from the “Italian conservatorio”. In the Middle Ages “choral schools were attached to churches”. “Music in medieval universities was a theoretical subject comparable to mathematics) as in the Ospedale della Pietà, founded in 1346 in Venice. Then came the Renaissance during which the Conservatorio made its debut. This term Conservatorio “designated a type of orphanage often attached to a hospital.” “The foundlings (conservati) received musical instruction at state expense. Naples was the center for the boys and Venice for the girls. Thus, we can consider that “the conservatori were the first secular institutions equipped for training in practical music. “The Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo (founded 1589, Naples) trained or had as faculty members most of the leading Italian opera composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.” From the Britannica we learn that the first secular school of music for students founded in Paris in 1784 “was reorganized and renamed Conservatoire National de Musique et d’Art Dramatique in 1795 by the National Convention (the Revolutionary regime of 1792-1795). Throughout the 19th century, the French model was copied, with modifications, in Europe and the United States.” Of these conservatories, the Juilliard School seems to be popular among our musical virtuosos. (https://www. Among Philippine universities, besides colleges, the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Silliman University, University of Filipino Women, University St. Paul, Adventist University (Silang Cavite), University of San Agustin, and Liceo de Cagayan University maintain music conservatories.

Pedagogy of music education. In a broad sense, the pedagogy of music education refers to “all practical, application-oriented, as well as scholarly endeavors aimed at teaching and instruction.” That being so, music teachers focus their music education classes on making learners know, understand, and perform all of the musical areas covered in the respective K-12 music education curricula. (Google, August 1, 2019) Although engagement in music education may not be a route to a professional career in music, music education in the Philippines aims to develop in students an “appreciation, participation, enthusiasm and a sustained curiosity for music, to benefit from their musical experiences through active involvement as creators, performers and listeners of music from a wide range of styles, traditions and cultures.” ( resources/discipline/arts/Pages/QMEF.aspx)

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts in the management of higher education institutions, studied at top universities in the Philippines and in Germany, Britain and Japan. She has held senior academic positions at Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan; was appointed by the president after EDSA 1986 to standardize campus operations at state institutions and served 17 years later as president of SUC. She is the director of the internationalization office and a lecturer at the Liceo University of Cagayan. Awards include the CHEd Lifetime Professional Achievement Award, the British Council Valuable Services Recognition Award, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Ministry of Education Award for his initiatives as a pioneer member of the Philippine Teacher Education Council.

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