Readings in Arts, Culture and Social Science Education

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search


Teaching or Cheating: The End Result of Teaching Profession- M. O. Awoyemi

  • Introduction
  • Teacher Importance
  • Teacher Management
  • Improving Teaching
  • Conclusion

Cultural Sources of Illformation for the Visual Artist - I.K. Otellg

  • Conclusion
  • References

A Ghanaian Perspective on the use of Traditional music in contemporary African society: Kingsley Ampomah

  • Abstract
  • Emerging Ghanaian Perspective
  • Transfer of Traditional Music
  • Colonial Institutions and Development of Ghanaian Music
  • Migration
  • Selection for Perforl11ance Composition
  • Conclusion
  • Reference

Cultural Education through Music: Michael Ohene-Okantah

  • Cultural Education through Music
  • Education
  • Culture
  • What is Music Music
  • Music in Education
  • Goal
  • Conclusion
  • References

Aesthetics of African Art: Criteria for Evaluatioll : R.K. Biney

  • Introduction
  • What is Traditional African Art
  • Definitions of Terms
  • What are the Nature and Characteristics of pre Colonial African Art?
  • Conclusion
  • Summary
  • References

Clothing: A form of Adornment and its Implication: For Students of Home Economics - J. Osei-Agyekum

  • Introduction
  • Reasons for Adornment
  • Conclusion

Using Indigenous Resources to Promote Instrumental Music in the Music Curriculum of Basic Schools in Ghana: E . J. Flolu

  • Introduction
  • Instrumental Resources
  • Found Sound
  • Construction of Instruments
  • Implication for the Classromm
  • Conclusion
  • References

The Traditional, Political Systems of Ghana, Yesterday, Today and the Future: Emmanuel Amoah

  • The Lecture
  • The Traditional Political Systems during the Precolonial Era
  • Colonial and Post Colonial Rule from Independence to the 4th Republic
  • The Traditional Political System Today
  • Relationship between Traditional: Authorities and District Assemblies
  • The Position of the Traditional Political System of Ghanaian in the Future
  • Reference

The Student Teacher and Off-Campus Teaching Practice: Alfred Ignatius Taylor

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • What is Off-Campus Teaching Practice
  • Problems
  • Suggestions
  • References


This chapter examines the terms, 'education' and' culture . and the role that music plays in the process of education as cultured transmission. It draws attention to the fact that if music education ismade peripheral to basic education, we stand the risk oflosing a very vital component of our national culture; losing our past and jeopardizing our future.

It can be seeh as "a process by which individuals arc enabled to develop their capabilities through acquisition or knowledge to the benefit of their society" Aboagye (1999. i i Education may also be defined as "a social institution through which society influences its individuals by passing on to them its culture which is the totality of the society's accumulated knowledge. ellt. laws, morals, ways of behaviour, the acquisition of which j'nil1gs the individual to the perfection of their culture" U\gyeman. I l)Sh cited in Aboagye, 1999).

Thus education could be seen as a process intended to develop the power and talents of the individual to the maximum so that he/she can be useful both to himself and to society. Such ;!l1 education, especially, at the basic level, needs to he as comprehensive as possible, so that from that base individuals can identify their areas of strength develop them, and so cut a niche for themselves in national life. Thus they would be making their personal contributions to national culture, and contributing their quota to the national development, while achieving personal fulfillment and happiness.

"It should be noted that the content of education (i.e. knowledge, skills, values and attitudes) are determined by the particular culture to which an individual belongs. Education is thus the vehicle for the transmission of culture. The content of education in any society is the culture of that particular society" (Aboagye, 1999:2).

The content of such an education, especially in Ghana, has always been a matter of policy, usually with little or no public debate, and has often led to curricula changes. Each change is envisioned as a panacea that would prepare individuals for'their roles in nation building. In all the attempts some subjects have been considered to be of top priority, and others of secondary importance. Subjects have been grouped and regrouped. Subjects that are seen to be of less importance have been dropped, added, re-dropped, re-added and so on, all in the hope of providing solid education to children. In the process, music, like the other arts, has suffered the latter fate.

Undoubtedly, what educational planners decide to include in schools education is determined by their sense of what is most importanl both for the child as an individual, and to society as a whole. It stems from what they think education is all about; what all students must know; what will make students into whole, all-rounded adults; what is basic to learning; as well as the nature. of what is to be learned (Ohene-OkanUih 2000:2). On such a basis, core curriculum - basic studies, general education and in fact all subjects and courses which are deemed essential for pupils by education authorities - is determined (see Aboagye, 1999: 14).

According to Taylor culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society (Taylor 1981). Culture is the total acceptable shared way of life of a given people comprising their modes of thinking, acting and feeling which are expressed, for instance, in religion, law, language, art, as well as in material product such as houses, clothes and tools.

Culture is also seen as 'the state of intellectual development of a people", This implies the process of education whereby knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws and so on are constantly examined, evaluated, modified and passed on from generation to generation as new insights into life and human existence are gained. Aboage (1999: 1.3) says that "education carries out both conservative and innovative functions with regard to cultural transmission". Thus, culture is the content of education. As noted earlier on, culture is also noted to include modes of thinking; and since art is always in the context of culture, art promotes cultural ways of thinking about life and provides the means of expression, often beyond words.
Aboagye (1999:3) identifies three aspects of culture, namely: inductive, aesthetic, and control aspects of culture. According to him, the inductive aspect includes knowledge, skills, techniques, methods as well as materials that have been accumulated in the past. The aesthetic componesations are made up of art works and processes, and the symbols and vestment of ritual, while the control aspect embraces a] I those things or actions that shape the behaviour of group members moral standards, religious and political sanctions as well as rules and laws. Obviously, music and the other arts belong to aesthetics.

What is Music?

This has been the simplest and yet most complex question asked about music. The trite answer has been "organized sounds which is pleasing to the cars". Its clements include melody or line, harmony, rhythm, form ,md so forth. Most of these concepts arc also common to the other arts.

Susan Langer (1951 :27) thinks music is "tonai analogue of emotive life". That is to say music expresses and fe-presents emotion in the form of sound. Langer does not mean such emotions asjoy sadness, happiness etc., but sentience; not any particular emotion, but "the feeling fullness of the general ebb and flow of life as it is vitally felt". She argues that it is not the mere expression of feelings. beliefs, or social conditions. Sow can see the danger of importing Western concepts and labels without adequate local debate: we (Westerners and Africans) could be using the same vocabulary. and yet talking about entirely different things. Music can, therefore, be said to be organized sound/silence within a cultural context or ambience". The concept of music in an African cultural content encompasses more than patterned expressive sounds analogous to felt life. It is more than drumming and dancing .

In Africa, the concept of music is an integrated process of singing, dancing, and instrument playing. Many African scholars have noted the absence of a single word for music in any African language, ego Katie (1994: 13), Rather interestingly, the Greek word f()r music, "mousikc" is very identical to the African conception of music. Alperson (1987), while admitting that many of the basic terms of reference for western theoretical reflection about music were based on Greek philosophy, note that the Greek word, "mousike", means words and gestures performed by amateurs, bards and dramatic actors. Music includes traditional music, art music and popular music.

Without going into Leonard Meyer's (1970) terminologies of absolute, referentialist and so forth, the author now turns his attention to what he considers to be the meaning of An-ican music. Writing on "The problem of meaning in African music," Nketia (1962: 1) queries: Is meaning to be investigated and stated in terms of Western philosophical of psychological concepts of meaning in music in tCI111S of the aesthetic positions of formalities, expressions and referentialists?."

"Meaning" in African music is widely held by many African scholars to be inseparable from "concepts, emotions (both specific and general), and moral qualities". Drum poetry, for instance. is not just the playing of two musical tones in rhythm, as in the case of the Western orchestral timpani, but the articulation of verbal messages - they are talking. Music thus grows out of the intonations and rhythmic onomatopoeias of speech (Bebey, ] 975). In that regard, if a particular rhythmic pattern was played on a particular drum in a community, even at random, the hearers would not be thinking of abstract sounds, and their relation to each other. or their expressive import. Their most natural reaction would be to ask. "What is being said", or even, "What's wrong?" It must be noted that "drumming as a cultural activity has a meaning beyond structure,' .... Beyond formal analysis" (Nketia. 196] :3) This represents one dimension of meaning in African music.

African music is the aspect of traditional African life which provides repositories of traditional beliefs, ideas, wisdom and feelings. These beliefs, ideas, wisdom and feelings do not just throw light on the music in the strict referential sense, as enhancing the meaning of music, but they arc about a half of what is !11l'dlll by "the music". These and other associations in African music are strong and real because they are tied to specific additional concepts, which are known by all who are familiar with the cultures."Meaning" in African music then must be regarded not as involving one statement but a plurality of statements derived from different but mutually related phases of investigation of ethnographic and musical character, and one might more appropriately speak of areas, or model of meaning rather than meaning in general. (Nketla. 1961 :5).

This explains why music is a strong rallying point 111 mal1} African societies. Aesthetic experience in our Ghanaian context will, therefore, be contingent upon the perception and conception of all those inherent meanings. Africans don't make meaning of sounds without their attachments-philosophical, social, historical implications and so forth. Appreciation of music, in an Afriqn sense, therefore, would be based on the perception of the organization of sounds (sonic order), and other props that go with music making.

Amu's compositions are rich, not only in melody, harmony, texture etc, but also social, moral, and philosophical ideas. So music in the African context is valued, not only because "rhythm and harmony enter the innermost parts of our souls", but also as they go, they carry a rich component of meanings beyond "organized expressive sounds". It could even be argued further that the characteristic tonal organization in African music carry meaning which is characteristically African.

For instance, when we sing "Yen are assase ni", we are not just enjoying the tune, and other sound characteristics for their own sake, ,but also, and, more importantly, the message the song conveys. "Other aspects of meaning in African music", Nketia (196:6) emphasizes "are expressed in statements dealing with the interrelations of structure and function, structure and context, structure and movement of dancing, while the relationship between music and other aspects of culture provides yet another mode or modes of meaning." And a philosophical/aesthetic position, which could be regarded as authentic to the African cultural situation, would have to take all these factors into consideration. Such is the aesthetic that should be the philosophical basis of African music education.

Art involves creative works and creative processes, and includes the whole body of work in the art forms that make up the entire intellectual and cultural heritage such as Dance, Music, Visual Arts and Theater (National Standards of Arts Education, 1994). Arts describe, define and deepen human experience. All peoples have an abiding need of meaning to connect time and space experience and event, body and spirit, intellect and emotion.

Creating art makes such connection possible to express the otherwise inexpressible (National Standards of Al1s Education 1994). Furthermore the arts connect each new generation with those before. They (the arts) are one of humanity's deepest rivers of continuity helping to answer questions of identity and destiny_ They also provide impetus for change by challenging old perspectives from fresh angles of vision or offering original interpretation of familiar ideas. They provide their Own ways of thinking habits of mind, they inspire courage, enrich our celebrations, make our tragedies bearable, and constitute a unique source of enjoyment.

Music in Education

Though music, and arts such as dance, visual arts, and theatre have been seen as inseparable from culture, their place in formal education has always been very tenuous. The irony is that the arts are so deeply embedded in our daily life in such subtle ways that we may be unaware of it or even take it for granted 'Because music is something performed or listened to in the home, the village square, work places, the chiefs court, the night club, and so forth, It is easy to overlook its intellectual and artistic dimensions and view it only as an object of functional interest, something whose sole purpose is entertainment and which can, therefore be approached largely as an extra curriculum activity for children who arc interested" ( Nketia,1999:10). Nketia (1999:11) points out that "allover the world. educational institutions not only provide extracurricular experiences and practical classes but also give music a regular place in the curriculum because it is not only a field of enjoyment but also

  1. an area that lends itself to discipline and training 01 mind and body, and
  2. a field of cultural knowledge and artistic behaviour to which all children must be exposed".

Music has logic and exercises and expands the thinking faculty, particularly critical and creative thinking. Music teaching can, thus, be approached in a manner that promotes creative thinking in children. The development of cultures and civilizations depends on the creative output of their members. When creativity dies culture dies. For the development of national culture, therefore, the various aspects of culture need to be studied both as individual disciplines, as well as, in an integrated fashion, from the basic level of education. Their being studied as individual disciplines strengthens them, and enhances their contributions to the total culture. It must be noted that formal education becomes necessary when aspects of culture become too complex to be passed on through the family. "The learning of any subject, including music and the arts, beyond rudimentary level requires systematic instruction, usually from a trained professional" (Hoffer, 1993:5).

If, as has been amply pointed out, music is inseparable from culture, and education is a means of perpetuating culture, how much of our culture are we passing on, if music and the other arts are made peripheral, to formal education? In every civilization "the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term 'education', and to be truly educated is to possess basic skills and knowledge in the arts" (National Standards of Ar1s Education, 1994). Education is to equip the individual not only to earn a living, but also "to live a life rich in meaning". Learning has to do with making meaning out of experience, and music, and for that matter, the arts, constitute one domain of meaning making.

Music and other arts contribute to education in ways that is neither possible nor attainable in other subjects. In other words children miss a lot if their education excludes a sound musical (arts) education?


For music and the other arts to take their proper place in formal education, they must have clearly articulated goals and objectives. Reimer, (1989: x ii) contends that "Music education exists first and foremost to develop every individual's natural responsiveness to the art of music". The presupposition is that every individual has natural responsiveness to music, which school music education should help nurture. This is a point that no one would contend with. Therefore, "The music teacher's most important responsibility is guiding students to understand and appreciate organized sounds. The processes of performing and creating often help in achieving this goal" Hoffer, (1993: 15).

Nketia (1999: I) emphasizes "the importance of providing learning experiences that enable African children to acquire knowledge and understanding of the traditional music and dance of their own environment and those of their neighbours. He continues "for without this preparation, they may not be able to participate fully in the life of the communities to which they belong they would be strangers among their own people". Such education, while making up for the cultural deficiency caused by the colonial experience, would also" strengthen their consciousness of identity. They will learn to accommodate, other kinds of music they encounter on radio and television without being overwhelmed or tempted to abandon their own or hybridize it beyond recognition". Furthermore, Nketia (1999:3) argues that "Children provided with systematic learning experiences in traditional music will he able tu put this knowledge 10 creative use. They will he able to make their own unique contributions in their mature years to the musical cultures of their societies". Needless to say, this is in line with the principles of creativity, that is, to create something uniquely new, requires the acquisition of enabling skills (Webster, I 988a) This is also reflected in the Music and Dance Syllabus for Basic Schools in Ghana which says that learners should be prepared to contribute to national artistic excellence in the future.


Since "learning is not the mere learning of things, but the meaning of things", learning music is not just the learning of note values, singing, dancing histories, biographies and so forth, but the meaning of organization of sound within a cultural context. Reimer (1989: 12) maintains that music "must be conceived as all the great disciplines of the human mind are conceived - as a basic subject with its unique characteristics of cognition and intelligence, that must be offered to all children if they are not to be deprived of its values".

Music represents a unique mode of knowing which requires and fosters particular mental activity. It also represents a unique way for experiencing and understanding life, just like language, mathematics or science.

Thus children's education intellectual, physical, moral, and emotional is incomplete without music education. Music education is basic to general education. Many professionals - accountants, doctors, lawyers, educators --- arrive at the top of their professions, and usually when their lives are busiest and hastening to its end, realize that a vital component of their education was missing. Usually, they discover it is music, and lament how their music teachers tumed them off fro111 studying music with all sorts of drills, harshness, and strange terminologies.

Music education in Ghana should be seen as Cultural Education. Such a position would "take into consideration African modes of thinking and approaches to music making" Ochrle (1991). Since music is inseparable from culture, which is the content of education and music is one of the greatest bearers of culture, music education could be perceived as a process of preparing individuals to be active participants and contributors to national cultural development.

Finally, it must be noted that such cultural education through music, and the other arts, is for all children who are talented, regular and disabled. The argument that says a lack of "real talent "disqualifies most people from learning to draw, play an instrument or express themselves in any art fon11, for that matter, is simply not tenable. There could be differences in abilities, but "differences do not constitute disqualifications".


  • Aboagye, J. K. (1999). Some Issues in Curriculum Development, City Publishers, Accra-Ghana.
  • Alperson, P. (1987). Introduction to What is Music? Philip Alperson (ed) New York, Haven.
  • Bebey, F. (1975) African Music: A people's Art (Bennett, Lawrence Hill & Company, New York.
  • Hoffer, C. R. (1993) An Introduction to Music Education (2nd ed); Wadsworth Publishing company, Belmont, California.
  • Kneller, G. F. (1971) An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, John Willey and Sons Inc.,
  • Kofie, N. N. (1994) Contemporary African Music in World Perspectives: Ghana Universities Press, Accra.
  • Langer, S. (1951) Philosophy in a New Key. Mentor Book Company, New York.
  • Meyer, L. B. (1970) Emotion and Meaning in Music, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Music Educators National Conference (1994). The National Standards of Arts Education, Reston, Virginia.
  • Nketia, J. H. K. (1999) (ed) A Guide for the Preparation of Primary School African Music Teaching Manuals, Afram Publications, Accra-Ghana.
  • Oehrle, E. Emerging music education: trends in Africa, the International Journal of Music Education (1991) 18,23-29.
  • Reminer, B. A. Philosophy of Music Education, (2nd edition) Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, (1989).