History and Philosophy Timeline

  • 500 BCE

    Greece and Rome

    In ancient Greece and Rome, the education systems emphasized music and poetry with an intent to influence both body and soul. Music played an important role in the culture as it was a part of many contests and festivities. In the first level of schooling, boys learned poetry and how to accompany themselves on a lyre. Music was studied from ages 7 - 14.
  • 1500

    Middle Ages

    During the Middle Ages, there were 3 types of schools: monastery, cathedral, and parish. Church schools provided children with instruction in psalm singing in order to prepare musicians for the church. When music notation was invented, emphasis in education began to shift towards music reading. Guido d'Arezzo was the most important teacher of the time period. He invented a system in which students were taught syllables to memorize, much like solfeggio.
  • 1517

    Protestant Reformation

    Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Luther was a musical man and he advocated for teaching singing and instrumental music. He believed music made people more well-rounded individuals and the schools established under the influence of his religious views included music in their curriculums.
  • 1520

    Spanish Conquerors in Mexico

    In the early 1500s, Hernando Cortez conquered Mexico for Spain and converted the Aztecs to Christianity through the use of music. Cortez brought music teacher Pedro de Gante to Mexico to help convert the natives. He taught them to read, write, play instruments, and sing European music.
  • 1540

    Conquering New Mexico

    In the mid-1500s, Francisco Coronado conquered the area that is now New Mexico. He brought Juan de Padilla with him to teach music as a means to convert the local natives. Before the conquering of the Aztecs, music had always been an important part of Inca culture and was always a part of the school curriculums.
  • Music Education in Early New England

    In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, followed by the Puritans in 1630. They left England to escape religious persecution. They formed a colony based on religious belief rather than democratic concepts. They brought with them their book of Psalms, all tunes that had been set to folk songs.
  • Music Education in Early New England continued

    New Englanders believed in universal education. Laws were passed that required towns to have schools. Music was not part of the school curriculum, however it was taught at separate schools known as "singing schools." In New England, many people sang music "the Old Way," which was learning songs through imitation. In the south, however, people learned songs "The Regular Way," which meant reading notes. The quality of music in New England declined during the first few generations in the colonies.
  • Music Education in the Early South

    The musical life of the colonial South was brighter than that of the North. Secular music was popular in the south and many performers and European touring musicians would play for the people. The need for music in the south became so great that there was a shortage of music teachers. Unlike the North, music was only only obtainable for the wealthy in the South.
  • Singing Schools

    After the preaching of Rev. Thomas Symmes, the first singing school was established in Boston. Its purpose was to improve singing and music reading in church. These singing schools became popular and began spreading among the colonies.
  • Reverend John Tufts "An Introduction to The Singing of Psalm Tunes"

    In 1721, Reverent Tufts wrote a book to combat the declining quality of music in New England. He invented his own system for teaching people to read music notation. He substituted letters for syllables on the staff instead of traditional note heads. He also changed rhythm notation by using punctuation marks instead of flags. This sparked others to write instructional works to teach people how to sing.
  • John Heinrich Pestalozzi

    Pestalozzi's theories changed the way in which elementary education was viewed and the relationship between students and teachers. He believed that the purpose of education was to prepare people to achieve their highest potential. Though he valued music, he did not teach it.
  • 19th Century

    In 1832, Lowell Mason and George Webb formed the Boston Academy of Music with the intent to teach singing and theory, as well as methods of teaching music.
  • Manual of Instruction

    In 1834, Mason developed his Manual of Instruction, based upon the Pestalozzian System of Education founded by Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. This book became used in singing schools by many teachers.
  • Hawes School

    In 1837, Mason began teaching music in the Hawes School. This is known to be the first time music was introduced into public school curriculum in the United States. In 1838, the Boston School Committee approved the inclusion of music in public school curriculum and Mason became the first supervisor of elementary music.
  • Mid-19th Century

    In the mid-19th century, Boston became the model to which many cities across the US shaped their public school music education programs. Music methodology for teachers as a course was introduced in the Normal Schools. The concept that classroom teachers in a school that taught music under the direction of a music supervisor was commonplace in the public school system.
  • High Schools

    High schools were the last segment of the public school system in America. They included vocal music education from the very beginning, and schools that were large enough often provided their own music for graduation ceremonies.
  • Early 20th Century

    In the U.S., teaching colleges with 4 year degree programs stemmed from New Schools and included music. Oberlin Conservatory was the first to offer a Bachelor's in Music Education. There was an uprising in associations and groups forming regarding education in general, but also specifically music education.
  • Music Supervisor's National Conference

    One big event in the history of music education occurred in the early 20th century. The Music Supervisor's National Conference was founded. In 1934, the name was changed to Music Educator's National Conference. More recently, it has been changed to the National Association for Music Education.
  • Mid-20th Century to Early 21st Century

    In the mid-20th century, a plethora of bills passed and many important events occurred regarding music education. In 1950, the Child's Bill of Rights in Music was passed. A student-centered philosophy was formally espoused by MENC.
  • The American School Band Directors Association

    In 1953, the American School Band Directors Association formed.
    This allowed for more organization in the band movement that was occurring in the U.S. public school system.
  • Launch of Sputnik

    In 1957, the launch of Sputnik forced more interest on subjects like science, math, and technology, taking emphasis away from music in public education.
  • American Choral Directors Association

    In 1961, the American Choral Directors Association was formed. This provided more organization to the choral movement that was occurring in the public school system across the U.S.
  • Yale Seminar

    In 1963, the Yale Seminar took place, during which, music educational was highly criticized. Federal support for development of arts education was discussed. There was focus on providing quality in the music classroom literature.
  • National Endowment for the Arts

    In 1965, there was federal financial support and recognition of the value of music education. This endowment was dedicated to supporting excellence within the arts, both new and established, bringing music to all Americans, and providing leadership in education.
  • Mannhattanville Project

    Develops sequential music program with an emphasis on learning through performance.
  • Elementary Secondary Education Act

    This program allowed for workshops and visiting lecturers in the arts. Many poor schools were able to purchase much needed equipment.
  • Tanglewood Symposium

    A response to the Yale Seminar which results in musical requirements in education. Establishment of a unified and eclectic philosophy of music education. Specific emphasis on youth music, special education music, urban music, and electronic music.
  • Education Act for Handicapped Students

    Paved the way for music therapy to gain popularity.
  • The Ann Arbor Symposium

    In 1978, the Ann Arbor Symposium took place. This emphasized the impact of learning music theory in areas such as auditory perception, motor learning, child development, cognitive skills, and memory processing.
  • Multicultural Symposium in Music Education

    In 1990, the MENC sponsored a symposium based on the growing awareness of increasing diversity within the U.S. public school system. The 3 day symposium provided teachers with models, materials, and methods for teaching music of the world's cultures to the American youth.
  • Music Education for Adults

    In 1991, Roy Ernst of the Eastman School of Music established the New Horizons movement of bands, orchestras, and choirs for people aged 55+. He received a grant for the project from the National Association of Music Merchants and the International Band and Orchestral Products Association. This movement created an entry point for group music making for adult beginners and a comfortable reentry point for adults who had previously played music and would like to resume.
  • National Standards for Music Education

    For much of the 1980s, there was call for educational reform and accountability in all curricular subjects. In 1994, the MENC introduced the National Standards for Music Education. These standards were adopted by some states, while other states decided to produce their own standards or deliberately avoid the standards at all.
  • 20th Century Inventions

    In the early 20th century, technological advancements came along that aided teachers and students alike in regards to music education. The idea of music appreciation courses became popular as students could spend time understanding historical perspectives of the music they would learn. The player piano helped teachers who were not as musically inclined as others. The phonograph allowed teachers to play recordings. The radio allowed for music and programs to help aid in the learning process.
  • Instrumental Music

    In the mid-19th century, Americans were introduced to touring orchestras and bands. The love of this music provided a base model for school orchestras and bands. The concert bands evolved out of this music, striving to provide better showmanship than European orchestras. In the 20th century, music teachers didn't have the time to teach individual instruments in one class. This sparked the birth of Heterogeneous Class Teaching.
  • Marching Band

    The marching band originated in the military and began to appear in schools around the start of the 20th century. At the start of its inception in public schools, the marching band was typically comprised of untrained, ragged instrumentalists. Through tradition, the marching band eventually became a staple part of pubic relations for schools.
  • Aesthetic Education

    An approach to teaching and learning that engages students in learning about works of art through hands-on inquiry, questioning, writing, and art making. Two of the biggest advocates include Charles Leonhard and Bennett Reimer.
  • Dalcroze Method and Eurhythmics

    In the mid-20th century, Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss musician, emphasized the importance of training the musical faculties, as opposed to the practice of teaching technique but not musicality. He used psychology to help form his approach to education. His method emphasized tone and rhythm through the use of movement to express musical interpretation.
  • Orff Approach

    Carl Orff's, approach was based on his interest in folk music, 19th century popular muisc, dance and theater music, and classical music. Dalcroze's dance movment theories intrigued Orff and in 1924 he founded the Gunther Schule. The school was an innovative group of dancers and musicians who trained teachers in new forms of movement and rhythm. Improvisation was a major part of the program.
  • Kodaly Method

    Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly was concerned that the 20th century Hungarian life was not as musical as it had previously been in the 19th century. Society no longer stimulated musicality in people. He believed schools were responsible for fixing this issue and he created a pedagogical system to help aid them. He taught the spirit of singing to everyone and to educate all to be musically literate. He was concerned with creativity and enriching life through musicality.
  • Suzuki Method

    Sinichi Suzuki was another musician that imported curriculum that influenced American music education. Suzuki began his musical training while living in Japan and later studied for 8 years in Berlin. His method is based on the concept that children learn their native language easily and naturally, while adults learn languages with great difficulty. He applied this concept to music education and allowed children to learn music in a very natural way.