An investigation into teaching strategies for Chinese traditional music in Hong Kong secondary schools
Chinese music has always been in the school music syllabuses of Hong Kong but it did not have a firm place until the change of the political status in 1997. The return of sovereignty to China brought about a new stress on Chinese culture for Hong Kong generally and for schools in particular. There is now a strong emphasis on Chinese music, especially traditional Chinese music. However, the emphasis on Chinese music may have caused an overloaded curriculum, as teachers have to cover both Chinese and Western music. It is possible that teachers emphasize factual knowledge about Chinese music, because information about Chinese music can be transmitted by means of technological devices such as CD_ROM, audio and audio-visual teaching materials, PowerPoint and the interne. The use of such aids can alleviate the problems of overload, as teachers can cover most aspects of the teaching topics listed in the music syllabuses. However, it has been argued that the goals of music education should include the acquisition of a personal experience of music, rather than focusing exclusively on acquiring knowledge about music. Reid (1986) claimed that the kind of personal experience-knowledge of arts could not be derived merely from `know-that' and 'know-how', which he called propositional knowledge. He said that an 'acquaintance knowledge of music', which results from direct contact or acquaintance with music, is crucial to the understanding of music. This kind of musical knowledge is an accumulation of knowledge-experience, a kind of personal knowledge of music over and above factual knowledge about music. Reid (1986) suggested that personal knowledge of music should be acquired by means of "renewed and fresh cognitive occurrences and repeated cognitive experiences". However, there has been little agreement on ways to acquire the acquaintance knowledge of music. Therefore this study initially focuses on teaching strategies that might help students acquire personal knowledge of music. What teaching strategies can help students to acquire a personal appreciation and experience of music? To what extent is it possible to formulate teaching strategies to bring about a personal knowledge of traditional Chinese music in Hong Kong schools? From a literature review of Chinese music teaching I identified four observational teaching variables, which appeared to influence the acquisition of personal knowledge. The variables were (a) teaching sequence, (b) the relative proportion of teaching time devoted to giving information and to providing musical experience, (c) students' control over music activities or 'framing' and (d) repeated rather than one-off listening. I investigated each variable separately in a secondary school context. A pilot test was followed by experiments to isolate and investigate the four main variables. In the case of the first variable, there were two treatments: (a) a teaching sequence that placed information first and (b) a teaching sequence that placed information last; In the case of the second variable, there were also two treatments: (a) a high proportion of information-giving relative to musical involvement and (b) a low proportion of information-giving relative to musical involvement (a) In the case of the third variable, the two treatments were: (a) strong didactic instructional framing and (b) weak didactic instructional framing. In the case of the fourth variable, the responses of the same group of students were taken after their first listening to a series of traditional pieces of Luogudianzi in Beijing opera and after subsequent listening to the same music,. Data on students' personal knowledge of Luogudianzi in Beijing opera were collected in two ways. The first quantitatively evaluated students' changes on (a) level of musical understanding of, (b) attitude towards the Luogudianzi in Beijing opera after the teaching of a series of lessons called "Chinese non-melodic percussion instruments and Beijing opera Luogudianzi". Students completed an attitude inventory and a written response on the test music of Luogudianzi after the teaching of the lessons. Their musical understanding of and attitudes towards the test music of Luogudianzi under Treatment 1 were then compared with their musical understanding of and attitudes towards the test music after Treatment 2. I also collected qualitative data on students' attitude towards and musical understanding of the Luogudianzi in semi-structured student interviews, and also interviewed the teacher at the end of a series of lessons. Each teaching variable was tested separately in every experiment. The findings showed that not every teaching variable affected students' personal knowledge of Luogudianzi. Only the teaching variable which emphasized more information and less direct musical experience in listening had an effect on students' attitudes to and musical understanding of the Luogudianzi. Factors which might have contributed to the unexpected results were identified. The study raised as many questions as it answered and authentic musical experience in teaching traditional music remains an issue which deserves further investigation in formulating teaching strategies to bring about a personal knowledge of Chinese music.