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Title: Music in key stage 2 : a qualitative study
Author: Moore, Jayne
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 9646
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation explores the value placed on music education in primary schools in Northern Ireland with particular reference to Key Stage 2. The main objectives of this study were to define what music education is, to develop a better awareness of the purpose of it and to discover how its value is perceived by various stakeholders. In order to achieve these objectives, factors which contribute to the status of music within primary education are identified and ways in which to recognise its value are presented. Through a critical examination of the debates surrounding curriculum in general and music education in particular, it is argued that the influences of popular culture, educational philosophies, the economy, and the development of the statutory requirements have had an effect on the hierarchical positioning of subjects and the type of knowledge which is deemed to be worthwhile in the curriculum. As a consequence, music is often granted low status within the curriculum. Working within an interpretivist paradigm, this qualitative study consisted of drawing attention to people’s perceptions and experiences of music education. The views and opinions of children, class teachers, music co-ordinators and senior leaders in three primary school settings were gathered via focus group interviews with children and one-to-one interviews with adults. The analysed data show that there are factors which contribute to the low status of music education: vulnerability, priority, exclusivity and invisibility. In contrast, the factors which contribute to the high status given to music are performativity, personal development of the child, and enthusiasm among teachers. Findings from this study indicate that there are two musical perspectives in primary schools underpinned by two distinct beliefs. Firstly, there is the traditional approach to learning music as a subject-based discipline, where the mastering of technique and the transmission of knowledge are the goals. Secondly, there is the more progressive sldlls-based approach, which nurtures an understanding of music through immersion in practice, with knowledge being created in context. Both ii approaches are to be found in music education in the primary school but in different contexts and used by different types of teacher. This small scale study provides valuable insights not only into the intrinsic and instrumental benefits of musical engagement, but also into the link between self-perception and musical ability, noting the common societal view that a person is either ‘musical’ or ‘non-musical’. Overall, it is argued that if teachers had a better understanding of the purpose of curriculum music, focusing on its instrumental worth and planning for musical engagement, rather than the development of musical skill, the teaching of music to all children would be less complicated with fewer personal demands, and children would feel comfortable working within their natural capacity. For this to happen there needs to be greater awareness of the purpose of music in the curriculum and for teachers to be more accepting of process over product so that all children can be individual in their musical endeavours, with emphasis placed on creative thinking and decision making. It is also argued that extra-curricular music is central to the fulfilment of potential and nurturing of talent, laying the foundation for those children who wish to pursue musical performance as part of their future. Therefore it is concluded that both music education pathways within primary schools are necessary for a complete musical experience, and for each individual child to realise his or her potential fully.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available