Venezuelaâ€™s Music in Education in Schools
Since 1930 Venezuela, has been working on building a classical music culture establishing and promoting orchestras, concerts, music associations, and finally the music and social movement called â€œEl Sistemaâ€. The main purpose of which is to provide education and values to children and youth through the practice and learning of music. El Sistema has demonstrated dramatically that providing children with the opportunity to practice music helps them achieve them a better quality of life while featuring social well-being in the community.
In spite of these efforts, â€œEl Sistemaâ€ remains an after school program. However, in Venezuela there are some schools that for many years have music as a vital part of the curriculum, making it available for children and youth in their everyday schooling routine. In Venezuela at present no public schools offer any formal music instruction.
This research project will examine the music instruction at the â€œColegio Emil Friedmanâ€ and the â€œColegio de Artes Intergradas El Avilaâ€. Both institutions provide their students with a wide range of arts activities as a main part of the curriculum, including both Venezuelan and classical music. This study attempts to show how and to what degree the music at the school assists the teaching/learning process, and provides a social benefit to the schoolâ€™s students and their communities outside the school.
Â A Brief History of the Colegio de Arte Integradas El Avila
Founded in 1996 in Caracas by a group of parents and teachers who were lookingÂ to provide the best education possible for their children, the Integrated Arts School El Avila allows children to grow, and learn in an environmental rich in arts, science and technology.
The school is the heart of the Integrated Arts Center ( Centro de Artes Integradas), a cultural center whose main function is to allow a generation of Venezuelans generations to haveÂ permanent and direct contact with a variety of arts expressions, including Theater, Painting, and Music as well as with the sciences. The schoolâ€™s founders believe that the combination of arts, science and technology encourage anÂ increase in childrenâ€™sÂ creativity and solid emotional skills which are crucial in the continual humane progress in the society.
The school has a bilingual system in order to facilitate these young connection to the world, but also is committed to educating the students in the history and customs of Venezuela. In other words, the school is to form an educate committed Venezuelan citizens in all the fields who can makeÂ a significant contribution to the betterment of the Venezuelan society.
In addition, this school believes the parents participation is vital for the education: therefore, theÂ school seeks to involve them in as many activities as possible. Finally, seeks to improve the teaching/learning quality. by offering professional development courses to its teachers.
Colegio El Ãvila Music Program Curriculum
Â El Colegio El Avila music lessons are an important part of the curriculum. The school has designed a program that guides teachers and students from kindergarten to high school. The music teaching emphasizes Venezuelan folklore, but also features the standard and international repertory.
El Colegio El Avila music lessons are an important part of the curriculum. The school has designed a program that guides teachers and students from kindergarten to high school. The music teaching emphasizes Venezuelan folklore, but also features the standard and international repertory.Â Kindergarten Level:Â On this level the children start rhythm exercises and body expressions, sing traditional Venezuelan folk songs, and dances such as merengue, valses, joropos, aguinaldos. Additionally, children receive lessons that introduce them to the instruments and spend time listening to popular and classical music. The school offers them as well the opportunity to sing in a Choir in which they perform pieces for one and two voices from the Venezuelan folk music repertory.
Basic I: On this level children from 8 to 10 years of age continue the voice and body activities from theÂ former level, but now begin participating in the music school festivals based on Venezuelan music and take instrumental lessons during the afternoon. Additionally, they play musical games and begin using the flute and the percussion instruments employed in the Orff method while learning music concepts such as tempo, rhythm, dynamics, melody, harmony, texture and forms.
Basic II: Children from ages 10 to 12 continue the same activities from Basic I and they receive instrument lessons on guitar, mandolin, and cuatro which is the national string instrument.
Basic III: On this level, youth from Â ages 14 to 16 years old are instructed in how to listen to music in a more critical way expressing themselves orally as well as writing reflections on what they hear. From this point on, it is a studentâ€™s decision to continue on learning an instrument, but if they are the school provides free after school music clubs.
High School Music Program: In this program youth between ages 16 and 18 are encouraged to attend concerts, listen to music and write and discuss their ideas about music. They are also taught basic music history and are introduced to complex musical forms.
This kind of structure has proved being very successful because this school has achieved the integration of the arts and especially music, in the regular school program. El Avila make available all sorts of music activities such as music lessons, chorus, and recitals inside the school, and involves all the school community including the parents.
Questions for the Avila School Students
|The student interviewÂ is made with the aim to know more about how and in which areas music has changed their life experiences and values.
- Explain why you think that music has helped you to learn better other subjects such as mathematics, science, language.
The children and youth notice that music has helped them very strongly in concentration for learning the other school subjects as well as their reading skills has been improved. For example a student uses to sing what he has to memorize for the biology test. On the other hand, they think that their verbal capacity has grew up and has given them for example in the history class more elements with which they can do relations. For instance, one of the students mentioned â€œ when I started having piano lessons my Math scores got betterâ€ and a second said that she used music to learn singing her history lessons.
- To what extent have you witnessed the development of extra-musical skills (i.e., organizational, spatial, logical, etc.) since you began your musical studies?
The Avila students recognize that their auditions and physical body movements, for example as coordination has been improved with the musicâ€™s practice. Not only physical skills, but at the same time the students identify that music has assisted them with more personality emotional tools for example: self esteem, work team, respect and solidarity. Additionally, the notice that their memory and patience has been expanded as a consequence of the music studies. The students enjoy for example being able to sing on tune, recognize the different music style and periods and read music.
- Why do you think that music has to be part of the general school program?
The Avilaâ€™s students believe that music is a part from the life, and they think that their human development has been more complete, integral and round with music, because they experience its benefits not only in the brain building, but has a people that are part ofÂ a community. They expressed though as for example: â€˜Music moves the worldâ€™, â€˜Music is universalâ€™, Music make me better academically and as human beingâ€™. They think that the education has to be integral and music is an important component of it
- To what extent can music be an entry point into further social development?
These students are aware about the importance of having a community with more culture and related to the arts in general. They believe that music can relax people and improve their social skills as comprehension, listening the different opinions, unity. Moreover, they admit that music can cross all kind of social and racial boundaries. As an example, they said that the more culture offers has a community, the more the social good is. In general, they think that a cultivated and educated country generate social good for everyone.
- What kinds of music do you like and why?
The Avila students has a wide range of musicalÂ tastes which goes from Popular Venezuelan and international, for example: Pop, rock, Jazz, World music to classical music.
- How many times during the week do you have music lesson in the classroom?
They have from 1 to 3 times music lesson during the week in which they participate in music activities as instrument lessons, choir rehearsals and recitals.
- How often do you attend concerts during the year?
They uses to attend concerts frequently not only inside the school, but in other concerts venues in Caracas.
Questions for the Avila Schoolâ€™s Parents
|The interview of the parents about the importance of the music in schools is oriented to have more information about how and why the parents conceive the musicâ€™s valueÂ in the children and youth development
- To what extent does the practice of music contribute towards the development social and/or emotional intelligences in your child?
The Avilaâ€™s parents have noticed some signs on their children and youth since they began learning music at school. For example, they said that music has reinforced their personality build up making them more secure peoples with a firm self esteem. The fact of practicing an instrument daily hasÂ giving them discipline and responsibility and the parents realizes that being an orchestra or choir member has expanded their interpersonal abilities. On the other hand, the parents admit that their children creativity has been nurtured.
- What is it about music, as opposed to other art forms or school subjects that provides special entry points and acts as a stimulus for the social development of your child?
The Avilaâ€™s parents have the opinion that music has permitted their children to have contact with different cultures, and they perceive qualities on their children as for example: sensitivity, spirituality, better communications expertise, concentration proficiency, respect, social and emotional maturity as well as the ear and rhythm develop.
- To what extent have you witnessed the development of extra-musical skills (i.e., organizational, spatial, logical, etc.) since your child began his/her musical studies?
Avilaâ€™ parents are aware that their children have nurtured some features as for example: logic, body coordination, attention, audition skills, verbal ability and memory.
- Why do you think that music has to be part of the general school program?
The Avilaâ€™s parents support strongly this idea because they think that music complete the education making it integral as wholeness and reinforce other kind of values that the human being needs to be a citizen not only in the country but in the world.
- Explain why do you think that music is important for the well-being and health of the entire society?
They think that music can make people happier, because it can improve the quality in the human relations in order that music support values as for example: solidarity, cooperation, team work. The parents believe that music reduce bad habits, violence and in general can reduce the probability that some can commit cranial acts. On the other hand, they feel that music can contribute as a family link for example when the family member play together an instrument or attend together a concert.
- Do you attend concerts? Can you describe what kind of music and how often in the year?
Yes, mostly of them attend regularly concerts which include all sort of music styles. Some of them play some instrument or sing in a choir.
- Can you mention what kind of music do you hear music in your home?
The Avilaâ€™s parents listen to all kind of music styles from popular to classical
Questions for the Avila School Teachers
|The teacher interview was designed to find out more about the schoolâ€™s curriculum and teaching methods and about how they feel the study of music has impacted their studentsâ€™ abilities to learn.
- How do you notice that the practice of music has contributed to fostering positive social values in the community?
The Avila teachers believe that music promotes community integration and action because musicâ€™s essential performing and listening skills provide diverse community members with common goals that unify them rather than separating them. Â Further, the teachers feel that music can help create better citizens because it makes people more sensitive to their communities or surroundings. Â For example, one of the teachers said â€œMusic educators observe the different behavioral differences and world perceptions between children and youth who learn music and those who do not. Â Â Spending hours on the focused study of musicâ€”instead of on passive activities like watching television or potentially harmful activities like drinking or smokingâ€”could improve not only the individualâ€™s quality of life but the communityâ€™s as well.â€
- What kinds of skills have your students developed as the result of studying music at the school?
The teachers have perceived that their students have improved their attitudes in many areas, such as responsibility, respect, identity, sensitivity, and socialization.Â Â They also feel that music practice has enhanced their studentsâ€™ expertise in language, memory, and concentration.
- Why do you think that learning and playing instruments improve your studentsâ€™ capacity for learning, concentration, and social skills?
The teachersâ€™ opinion is that instrumental or vocal practice has assisted their students develop empathy and express emotions through music performance. Â Further, they feel that musical activities have increased and/or refined the studentsâ€™ intrapersonal and interpersonal aptitudes.
- Which kind of the methods (e.g., Kodaly, Orff, Suzuki, Dalcroze, etc.) do you use in the classroom and why?
The Avila School teachers use all these methods, but they do not have one favorite, because they believe that each method can offer valuable help during the music lesson. Â At the beginning they give priority to the methods which emphasize rhythm, and then in the next levels they employ methods that utilize melodies, harmonies, and instrumental practice.
- How often do you attend concerts during the year?
The Avila teachers attend concerts frequently inside and outside the school.
- What kind of music do you listen to at home?
The Avila teachers listen to all kind of music at home, from popular to classical.