British Journal of Music Education
The broad church of music education continues to be represented in the British Journal of Music Education, and this current edition once again exemplifies this. Articles consider mainstream education, music in special schools, curriculum and examination reform in schools and higher education, music education beyond schools and formal education in community work and concert halls. The first two articles consider different aspects of the impact of curriculum reform in England. Elizabeth Bate's
... Elizabeth Bate's thought-provoking article opens this edition. It gives due consideration to questions of social justice in music education, with particular reference to the introduction of England's current National Curriculum for Music. It argues that 'by decontextualizing the concept of knowledge, the process of learning promoted by the National Curriculum has become far removed from anything relevant to or familiar from a pupil's day-to-day life'. Drawing upon the 'habit concept' of classical philosophical pragmatism, it assesses 'how and why music's educational value should be understood not through its "academic rigour" but through its distinctive, inherently destabilising nature'. As with Bate's article, Adam Whittaker's article draws attention to the changing focus on different types of knowledge promoted through the study of music education. Following a period of time when music education became more inclusive of different traditions and styles, Whittaker's article explores the return to a 'scholastic canon' based on Western music, which has been reintroduced through the reformed A-level music qualifications. Whittaker points out the mismatch between the diversification in the opportunities for studying music in higher education and this more recent constriction in the breadth of study of works within the A-level syllabuses. He concludes that 'the centrality of works by a certain group of composers from eighteenth and nineteenth century to formal musical study in the A-level syllabus suggests that something of the core of the scholastic canon remains strong and almost immovable : : : the conservative canon still looms large over the study of music history and reinforces a set-work study paradigm over engagement at this level'. Tamara Rumiantsev, Wilfried Admiraal and Roeland van der Rijst explore conservatoire leaders' observations and perceptions on curriculum reform. Their study, based in Belgium and The Netherlands, notes the need for education to help musicians gain a wide range of skills needed in order to 'work both creatively and collaboratively, often in a wider range of artistic, social and cultural contexts'. This interesting study considers three research questions: 1. How do conservatoire leaders observe and perceive the relationship between the curriculum and professional practice in which such competences as problem-solving skills, a reflective attitude cooperative and communicative skills are necessary? 2. How do conservatoire leaders perceive the competences of their teachers? 3. What do conservatoire leaders perceive as necessary to foster problem-solving skills, a reflective attitude and cooperative and communicative skills both in teachers and in students? This study presents a candid look at the need for curriculum reform within these institutions and the tensions and challenges of taking this forward. They also highlight future possible research required, some of which might beneficially come from examining other disciplines, such as healthcare, where curriculum reform has impacted professional practice.