Music education in any form can be traced back to the beginning of education. Although it has sometimes struggled for legitimacy, there have been its champions. As technology has grown in education, there have been many technological applications that can be used to teach music. Although most of the technology is intended for classroom use, there are some programs that can be used at home by students who have internet access and a computer.
Music education in America dates back to 1838, when Lowell Mason started singing classes at Boston grammar schools. Over the next 50 years, instrumental music was introduced in spurts but it was not included in the school day. Instead, it was added to the list of extracurricular activities. Instrumental music was accepted into the classroom around the turn of the century. However, it was often taught by people who were not trained in music education. There was also little standardization in the music literature and instrumentation. (Rhodes, 2007)
The quality of school music started to improve after the end of World War I. This was mainly due to the fact that veterans, who had been musically trained in various branches of the military, started to teach music in schools. Band was, however, still considered an extracurricular activity. (Ibid)
The Music Supervisors National Conference (MSNC), also known as the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), was established in 1907 to support school music. A proposal was made in 1912 to add music activities, including choruses, to the list of accredited subjects. Band was included, but with a lower priority. Edgar B. Gordon made the following statement at the Cleveland MSNC conference, 1923.
The high school band is not an incidental school venture that was largely sparked largely by volunteer efforts of a high-school teacher, but an undertaking which is assigned to an definite place in school’s schedule with a daily class period with a trained instructor and credit for satisfactory work. (Ibid)
The first National Band Contest was held in Chicago in the same year. This is likely because of the increased acceptance and importance. In 1928, he led the Conn company in its contribution to the creation of the National Music Camp in Interlochen. He also supported publications that support band directors. These efforts, while they may seem self-serving given his position with Conn in the company, helped to establish school band as an important part of school curriculum. (Banks, 1997)
Budget cuts often resulted in the curtailing or elimination of instrumental music programs, despite a gradual acceptance, though still limited, of it within schools’ curriculum. Due to state mandates and pressures, there has been a decline in support for music inclusion in schools. Michelle R. Davis stated in “Education Week” that “the federal No Child Left Behind Act is causing many schools to cut back music, social studies, and art in order to make more time for mathematics (Davis 2006). This is very unfortunate, considering that music has proven to be beneficial to all students, even increasing their ability for problem-solving and reasoning.
Many thinkers have helped to elevate music’s importance in education or, at the very minimum, shown that restricting the school environment to only the “Three R’s is not a good idea. Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences Theory” was based on the realization that not all children have the same learning propensities. They have different learning abilities and have different learning capacities in many areas. These are areas that he spoke of because they have different intelligences.