Music education can be found in many forms. It goes back as far to education as music itself. Even though it sometimes struggles for legitimacy, music education has always had its supporters. Recent developments in technology have led to the development of technological applications specifically designed for teaching music. Many of these programs are intended to be used in the classroom, but there are also programs that can easily be used at home.
American education has been teaching music since 1838 when Lowell Mason began to teach singing in Boston’s grammar schools. Over the next 50-years, instrumental music was introduced intermittently but it was not taught during school hours. It was instead relegated as an extracurricular activity. Instrumental music started to be accepted in schools around the turn century. But, many instruments were taught by untrained music educators. It was difficult to standardize the music literature or instrumentation. (Rhodes, 2007)
After the end of World War I, school music quality began to improve. This was due in part to veterans who were musically trained in different service branches and began to teach music in schools. Band was considered an extracurricular activity. (Ibid)
To support school music, the Music Supervisors National Conference, or MSNC (now Music Educators National Conference, or MENC) was created in 1907. In 1912, it was proposed to include as accredited subjects a variety of music activities such as choruses. Band was added, but at a lower priority. Edgar B. Gordon later stated that Band was included at a lower priority during the Cleveland MSNC conference of 1923.
“The high school bands are no longer an incidental school project that is largely motivated largely by the volunteer work of high school teachers who happen to have some band experience. They are a school-based undertaking with a designated place in the school calendar, a daily class under a trained instructor, and credit for the satisfactory work. (Ibid)
Due to increasing acceptance and importance, Carl Greenleaf, then head of C. G. Conn Ltd., helped organize Chicago’s first National Band Contest. Later, in 1928 he directed Conn to help establish the National Music Camp at Interlochen in Michigan. He also later supported publications to assist band directors. These endeavors, although they might have seemed self-serving considering his Conn position, nevertheless helped establish school bands as a vital part of the school curriculum. (Banks, 1997)
Budget cuts have frequently reduced or eliminated instrumental music programs in schools, despite their acceptance. Additionally, the increased emphasis on “teaching the test” has led to decreased support for music inclusion in schools. Michelle R. Davis wrote in “Education Week”: “The federal No Child Left Behind Act has caused many schools to reduce subjects like music, art, and social studies to make room for reading and mathematics (Davis (2006)). This is extremely unfortunate since music, particularly instrumental music, has been proven to be beneficial for all students and even increased their ability to problem-solve and reason.
Many theorists have contributed to music being elevated to education. Howard Gardner developed his theory of multiple intelligences with the understanding that different children may have different learning abilities. Their learning abilities are different, and they also have different capacities to learn in many areas. These areas are, he explained, the different intelligences of which they speak.