Teaching and learning music in Japan
This research aims to identify the role of compulsory music education in the formation of
Japanese society and identity. It investigates the teaching and learning of music in Japan at·
grassroots level within an holistic context. In order to place school music education within
the historical and sociological contexts of Japanese society, it focuses upon four schools and
eight organisations of music teaching and learning outside the school system. It discusses
the relationship (or lack of a relationship) between such contexts, which is determined, for
example, by political, personal, social and cultural factors. It also highlights that much of
what happens in classrooms today is related to wider social issues which have their origins in
The research suggests that the present system of music education needs further review and
change if it is to claim convincingly its value within Japanese schools. It argues that a
scheme is needed to assure the quality of teachers and teaching. The absence of an
inspection system means that policy is regularly formulated at grassroots level, largely in a
way that is governed by personal beliefs, experiences and peer pressures, rather than by
government itself. It also outlines the lack of a relationship or even understanding between
the different systems of music education in Japan, notwithstanding the finding that pupils'
musical experience outside school influences their attitudes towards music lessons in school.
It argues that the school system needs to acknowledge the existence of musical le,a r.n ing
outside schools and needs to accommodate pupils' musical experiences outside school. The
research also discusses issues such as the place of Japanese music in schools, the role of
specialist music teachers in elementary schools, the role of music in schools, and the aims and
objectives of music education in schools.