ASCJ 2009
SATURDAY JUNE 20, 1:15 P.M.-3:15 P.M.
Session 10: Room 11-221

Culture, Tradition and Challenges in Japanese Music Education

Organizer/Chair: Mari Shiobara, Tokyo Gakugei University

1) Yuri Ishii, Yamaguchi University

Musical Tradition and Culture in Policy and Reality: A case study in Yamaguchi Prefecture

2) Chieko Mibu, Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Art and Music

The Structural Defect of Music Education in Japan from the Perspective of Community Musicians

3) Mari Shiobara, Tokyo Gakugei University

Teaching ‘Music Culture’ in the Japanese Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives

4) Christian Mau, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Reaching-in: Supplementing Traditional Music Teaching in the Japanese Classroom

Discussant: Hiroki Ichinose, Tokyo Gakugei University

Culture, Tradition and Challenges in Japanese Music Education

Organizer/Chair: Mari Shiobara, Tokyo Gakugei University

Japan is often referred to as a model society of cultural hybridization and its educational system has been highly regarded by outside world. However, in the case of music education, what actually happened was not hybridization but a replacement of traditional music with western music by the government in the process of modernization. Western music, especially that of the classical tradition, has functioned as a barometer for the enculturation of Japan along with its economic growth and the schools played vital roles in the process. However, the recent globalization drive in the world has affected Japanese music education and pushed towards more national and traditional cultural aspects by the policy makers. It has produced a dynamic dialectic as well as conflicting values and practices within the music classrooms and their surrounding musical communities. The first paper investigates how the types of songs specified by the course of studies for cultivating Japanese identity are viewed by university students and people over 60, and discusses the policy’s limitation in educating children for that purpose. The next paper, interrelated functions among higher music education, school music education, and states of community musicians are examined. The third paper discusses secondary school music teachers’ views about teaching traditional music and how they intend to teach music culture as required in the recent courses of study. Finally, the fourth paper investigates the role that traditional musicians in community at large can play in bringing Japanese traditional music into the classrooms.

1) Yuri Ishii, Yamaguchi University

Musical Tradition and Culture in Policy and Reality: A case study in Yamaguchi Prefecture

In Japan, the revised Courses of Study for primary and lower secondary school education were announced by the Ministry of Education and Science in March 2008. The revision was made based on the report of the Central Council for Education that was submitted in January 2008, indicating the principles of the revision. Among the seven main points for the improvement of educational contents that are listed in the report, the third calls for “the improvement of education concerning tradition and culture.” It is intended to foster children’s respect for national and local tradition and culture so that they will also become able to appreciate those of other peoples. In order to respond to this principle, the subject of music is supposed to include the teaching of songs created by the Ministry of Education during the pre-World War II modernization drive, Japanese folk songs, songs that have been sung for generations in local communities as well as teaching about Japanese musical instruments.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how these types of music are actually perceived by Japanese people and whether there are differences in perception between different generations. For this purpose, the paper compares the results of questionnaire research conducted in Yamaguchi prefecture, targeted at university students and people over sixty. The paper argues that the Ministry’s effort to maintain the above mentioned types of music as Japanese identity is likely to have a limited effect.

2) Chieko Mibu, Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Art and Music

The Structural Defect of Music Education in Japan from the Perspective of Community Musicians

This paper focuses on higher music education and musicians’ activities in the community. In Japanese modern society, Western music has functioned as a cultural-class transferring device since it was introduced. This social status of the music, which was separate from the folks and their communities, but succeeded in showing its overwhelming value in compulsory education, has brought significant repercussions. With a view of the relationship of the schools, musicians and the communities, complicatedly woven problems have been coming to the fore.

In the study of outreach activities to school music, for example, the inefficiency in matching musicians with schools is one of the urgent matters to be settled. One of the reasons for this inefficiency was clearly caused from the education system itself, especially from the higher education system with the orientation that favors Western music. Both school music teachers and musicians are often trained at the same universities, but it cannot be said that even they have enough cooperation for outreach activities. Needless to say, the musicians of other fields, who trained outside universities, have much less access to school music.

Bringing outside resources into the schools has always been a contentious issue, but the new national guideline implies more promise for musicians in the communities. Despite this, the surplus of formally educated musicians remains a serious problem. The fact that art-related NPO’s are increasing also bears witness to this problem. This paper elaborates this issue and explores possible solutions for restructuring Japanese music education.

3) Mari Shiobara, Tokyo Gakugei University

Teaching ‘Music Culture’ in the Japanese Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives

The revised courses of study for secondary schools were announced by the Mombusho in March, 2008 and will be effective from April 2009. In describing the aims of the new music curriculum, little has changed, except that one new item is inserted: through music education the students should deepen their understanding of ‘music culture’. Because the previous 1998 version of the course of study introduced practical experience of playing at least one Japanese traditional musical instrument as a compulsory activity as well as listening to music of various ethnicities, music teachers have been making efforts to accommodate those statutory requirements. This has been met with varying degrees of success so far. However, it has contributed to raising awareness among them that Western music – especially that of classical tradition in which most of them had their training – is not the only musical culture they deal with in the classroom. Under the new course of study the teachers themselves are required to be aware of what is meant by ‘music culture’ and deepen their understanding of it in order to make their teaching functional. This study first examines secondary school music teachers’ views about how they have managed to teach Japanese traditional music as well as music of different ethnicities put forward in the 1998 course of study. Then it goes on to discuss how those teachers anticipate dealing with teaching music culture described in the 2008 course of study and its implications in their music classrooms.

4) Christian Mau, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Reaching-in: Supplementing Traditional Music Teaching in the Japanese Classroom

This paper investigates the role that musicians in the community can play in introducing Japanese traditional music into the classrooms of Japanese schools. It has often been pointed out that Japanese school music teachers are ill-equipped to teach Japanese traditional musics. The main reasons given for this deficiency is the emphasis given to Western music at the institutions of higher learning, where the teachers are trained. This research looks at what is being done to fill this gap, in view of the mombushō’s (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) directive in the 1998 course of study that students “experience traditional musics, including a Japanese traditional instrument.” Added to this, in March 2008, is a suggestion that students should “experience min'yō or nagauta, etc.”

This paper argues that it would be virtually impossible to train teachers adequately to take up this task and examines how the schools can fulfill the recommendation by drawing on resources in the community in order to bring traditional music into the schools’ classrooms. It also looks at how some traditional musicians are already making themselves available by volunteering to bring their skills and experience into the classroom. Several case studies will be presented, to see how initiatives are being taken by some traditional musicians at large to penetrate the educational system in order to make their craft known. Their motives for entering the schools and thereby delivering their music to a young audience of students will also be explored.

Discussant: Hiroki Ichinose, Tokyo Gakugei University