December 26, 2014 
 
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History of Music Education in the Philippines
Leticia G. del Valle
Articles

       Music education is the dissemination of music knowledge, skills and appreciation. The process may occur in the structured setting of a school or in a more informal manner.

       Music permeates the daily lives of indigenous culture groups. it is used in connection with life-cycle events such as birth, courtship, marriage and death. Occupational activities such as planting, harvesting, hunting and fishing and functions such as peace pacts and victory celebrations are occasions for music making. Lullabies are sung to put babies to sleep, instruments are played to drive away evil spirits and songs and chants accompany the playing of children. In these communities, singing of songs and playing of instruments are naturally learned through participation. Formal ways of learning are however practiced among many culture groups.

       A Maranao lad who wishes to specialize in singing certain types of the extensive Maranao vocal repertoire studies with a professional singer in a kasombak (apprenticeship) system. He stays with the goro (teacher) and does daily chores for free instruction, board and lodging. The training of the morit (student) begin with the learning of songs by rote, gradually progressing to creating improvisations and variations and ends with the student singing in his own style songs prepared by the teacher. Training includes learning the vocabulary and grammar of specific song languages, and other aspects of performance (Cadar, 1981). Among the Tausug highly formalized systems of instruction are practiced in the study of the purely vocal tradition, mixed vocal-instrumental genres such as the paggabang, and solo instruments such as the tata gabbang (solo gabbang) and tata biyula (solo biyula. Trimillos, 1972).

       The Spanish colonizers who arrived in the 1500's brought with them missionaries who established churches, convents and schools in different parts of the islands. Among them were church musicians and music teachers who composed and performed liturgical music, wrote books on music and taught young Filipino boys to sing the Gregorian chant and play instruments for church services. Among the schools established was a Franciscan seminary in Lumban, Laguna in 1606 where 400 boys were trained in singing  and playing of instruments. Many years later, the Colegio de los Niņos Tiples de la Santa Iglesia Cathedral, a school noted for its excellent training of boy's, choirs, offered classes in solfeggio, vocalization, composition and the playing of organ and other stringed instruments. Graduates of the school included musicians such as Salvador Pinon, Fulgencio Tolentino, Antonio Garcia, and Simplicio Solis. Founded in 1742, the Colegio existed until the outbreak of the Second World War (Banas, 1969). In the 1800's a rich musical life developed in the urban areas particularly in Manila and the more affluent provinces. This was brought about by a large number of visiting foreign musicians, singers and opera companies who performed in the theaters and concert halls of Manila and in some cities in the South. These musical events contributed greatly to the music education of the Filipinos along secular forms of Western music. (Guevara, 1971).

       The American colonial government established public schools all over the islands. The first teachers were American soldiers who were later replaced by the Thomasites. Curricula of these schools included music in the elementary level. Music instruction concentrated based on the Progressive Music Series, a graded foreign collection of songs, and a Philippine edition of the same series by Norberto Romualdez. Similar materials which were used much later were the 6 volumes of the Bureau of Public School Series which consisted of basic songs (the Philippine National Anthem and other patriotic songs) folk songs of the Philippines and other countries, works of Filipino and foreign composers and suggestions for the teaching of rondalla and rhythm band. (Yamson, 1972).

       In 1966, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act No. 4723 popularly known as the Music Law which provided for the teaching of music and art as a separate subject in the elementary level and the teaching of music once a week for one hour in the secondary level (Yamzon, 1972). The New Elementary School Curriculum of 1982 however, required the teaching of music as a separate subject only from grades III to VI and its integration with other subjects in Grades I & II. In the high school, music was made a part of a subject area, PEHM, which includes Physical Education and Health. Content of instruction consists of a study of Philippine, Asian and Western music. The Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) is a special secondary school established by the government in 1977 which provides training in music, dance and the visual arts. Here, music scholars are given instruction in performance, theory and literature as well as academic subjects. In the tertiary level, schools of education offer PEHM specialization and 6 units of music for students studying for a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree. Colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate courses in music. Various courses range from a Diploma in Music, Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Performance (major in piano, voice, strings, winds, or percussion) Composition, Musicology, Conducting and Music Education, to a Diploma or Certificate in Performance.

       The University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music is one of the leading schools of music in the country. Originally a conservatory patterned after European and American music schools, the College today has strong multicultural thrust reflected in the integration of non-western music courses of studies in the fabric of its over-all curriculum program. Other schools with strong departments offering music degrees are: the University of Sto Tomas (UST), St. Scholastica's College, Philippine Women's University, St. Paul's College, Sta. Isabel College, Centro Escolar University, Asian Institute of Liturgy and Silliman University. Music instruction are also being provided by tutors, numerous private studios teaching art and popular music, and music organizations that hold seminars and workshops to improve the quality of instruction in their specific fields of specialization.

       The Philippines Society for Music Education (PSME) founded in 1971 is the main organization in the country actively engaged in upgrading the standards of classroom music teaching in the elementary and secondary schools today. It took over the work begun by the Philippine National Society of Music Education (PNSME), which was founded in the early 1960's and was active until 1970. Other music organizations are the Piano Teachers Guild of the Philippines, Kodaly Society of the Philippines, Aschero Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Federation of Choral Music, and the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) Foundation.

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Reference/s:
Alzona, Encarnacion. A History of Education in the Philippines from 1565 to 1930. Manila. University of the Philippines Press, 1932

Banas, Raymundo C. Filipino Music and Theater. Quezon City: Manlapaz Publishing Co., 1969

Cadar, Usopay. Handog. Context and Style in the Vocal Music of the Maranao in Mindanao, Philippines. Ph. D. dissertation. University of Washington, 1980

Dioquino, Corazon. Education. CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Vol. VI. Manila: Cultural Center of the Phils. 1996

Guevara, Leticia L. References to Music in periodicals (1862-1918) at the Filipiniana, National Library. Master's Thesis. UP College of Music 1971

Parker, Horatio et al. The Progressive Music Series. New York: Silver Burlett Co. 1924

__________ The Progressive Music Series. Phil. Edition. Compiled by Norberto Romualdez. New York: Silver Burdett Co., 1925

Trimillis, Ricardo. Tradition and Repertoire in the Cultivated Music of the Tausug of Sulu, Philippines. University of Hawaii, 1972
About the Author:
Leticia G. del Valle is a professor of Music Education of the U.P. College of Music. She is the vice president for Planning and Implementation of the Philippine Society for Music Education (PSME) and is a member of the Technical Panel for the Humanities of the Commission for Higher Education (CHED). She is also a consultant for DECS' Office of Culture and Arts.
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