by Mauricia D. Borromeo
Education in Music, or the acquisition of musical knowledge, skills, and values, is shaped by its purpose and context. In the Philippines, it may variably mean: a) an avenue for the transmission of a culture or tradition; b) a curricular component in basic education; and c) a prescribed sequence of study in preparation for professional careers in music.
The principal aim in education among ethno-linguistic groups is to continue their tradition. These groups keep alive Southeast Asian indigenous music, the oldest type of Philippine Music. For example, the palook (use of stick beaters) and topayya (use of the hands) styles of playing the gangsa (flat gongs) in the Cordillera Highlands of Northern Luzon are learned by young Kalinga boys through keen observation and imitation of a customary circle of tutors- family, peers, or town elders. Able to practice only on bamboo instruments, (traditionally, gong playing in the absence of ritual or social event is frowned upon) actual playing on the gongs takes place at the social gatherings in which music-making is a participatory and communal experience. As adults, they will form a pool of musicians needed for non-stop strenuous gangsa playing during celebrations that last for days.
Unlike the gangsa, the kulintang (a row of knobbed gongs of graduated sizes) is taught directly on the instrument itself, and by a tutor. He/She employs the techniques of rote-learning (imitation and repetition of a pattern demonstrated by the teacher), the use of the kamblala, a set of patterns to be memorized, then played and sung simultaneously by the student; and kinesthetic guiding of the hands to teach muscular coordination. (Cadar, 1975). The Maranaos (and other Muslim communities of Southern Philippines) value the study and performance of kulintang for its social significance, serving as an occasion for community entertainment, social contacts, competitions, ethical learning and exercise of self-discipline.
In the context of guru-pupil relationship, the Tausug tata gabbang (a bamboo xylophone played alone) and tata biyula (a bowed string instrument played alone) are similarly taught. Male students living with a male guru render household services in return for free room and board while female students come to the house of a male guru for lessons. (Trimillos, 1972)
The highly specialized and multi-faceted apprenticeship of the Maranao princess, Sindao Banisil, a pabubayok and onor (artist) in the study of Bayok (Maranao vocal genre) was entrusted to a team of five women, all aunts of hers. Starting at age six, she learned from these tutors various aspects of Bayok artistry: memorization, and extemporizing on text models, chanting techniques, and proper application of vocal devices, improvisation, and other skills like dancing, playing on instruments, good manners, personal grooming- all relative to the art. Sindao, a prodigious pupil, reached professional status at age 15, when she easily won over established pabubayok in several competitions. (Santos, 1989).
Music in Basic Education
The New Elemetary School Curriculum (NESC) and the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) which were prescribed and instituted in 1982, and 1989 respectively by the then Department of Culture (DEC) and Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) constitute a continuum of academic preparation for college. The inclusion of the subject of music is premised aesthetic (musical) and utilitarian (extra-musical) contributions to general on its education and the national culture. Music instruction in both public and private elementary schools are of the general music type (as distinct from performance classes) commonly used in the United States. The overall aim is to develop basic music literacy. The graded learning outcomes are based on the elements of music- rhythm, melody, harmony, form timbre, texture dynamics and using the conceptual and spiral approaches which are hallmarks of western music education. The repertoire includes Spanish/European/American/ influenced Philippine Music and foreign songs. Accordingly, the skills of singing, music reading, responding to the elements receive much attention. In some schools, the general music classes are complemented by voluntary participation in performance groups (Rhythm Band, Child Choir, Ethnic Ensembles) organized outside of the regular class time.
In high school, the foundation of singing, music reading, responding and listening to music is further developed and applied to the study of various genres of Philippine Asian, and Western Music within the framework of the PEHM subject area (Physical Education, Health, and Music). The skills of improvising and creating are encouraged. Recently, the subject of art was added to the time allotted to music.
Specialized Training in Higher Education
Various undergraduate music programs are available at the University of the Philippines (UP), University of Sto. Tomas (UST), Philippine Women's University, Centro Escolar University, St. Scholastica's College, Sta. Isabel College, St. Paul College, the Asian Institute of Liturgical Music, all in Metro Manila, and Silliman University (Dumaguete City), University of San Agustin (Iloilo), Univesity of the Immaculate Concepcion (Davao). Depending upon the institution, certificates, diplomas, or degrees are earned in instrumental and vocal performance, composition, conducting, music education, musicology, Asian music, dance, music, theater, and church music. The content and methodology of courses reflect a heavy orientation towards repertoire and standards of Western music. Increased awareness of this imbalance has led to the gradual inclusion of non-Western, Asian, and Philippine music in the curricula over the past decades by the University of the Philippines and others. The use of technology in music is a recent trend. Distance education, if used judiciously, will usher in unexplored alternatives for certain aspects of music training.
The overall picture of Philippine Music Education is not without problems, i.e. full implementation of the Music Law, R.A. 4723, teacher quality and development, dearth of relevant materials, student assessment, funding, etc.. But with the continued support of government institutions like the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, Commission on Higher Education, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, educational institutions, and organizations like the National Music Competition for Young Artists, and Kodaly Society of the Philippines, Filipinos can look forward to Music Education in the twenty-first century that is global and truly Philippine in its use of indigenous learning, current pedagogical trends, non-Western and Western repertoire, and music technology.
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Borromeo, Mauricia. Vocal Music of the Cordillera Highlands. Compendium of the Humanities of the Philippines -- Musical Arts. Corazon C. Dioquino (ed.). National Research Council of the Philippines. 1998. 18-32
Cadar, Usopay. The Role of Kulintang in Maranao Society in Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology. Vol. II, No.2, 1975.49-62
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Santos, Ramon. The Maranao Bayok: Music, Rhetoric and Canons of an Art Form from an Unpublished lecture. 1 987
Trimillos, Ricardo. Traditions and Repertoire in the Cultivated Music of the Tausug of Sulu, Philippines. Ph.D. Dissertation. UCLA, 1972
About the Author:
Mauricia D. Borromeo obtained graduate degrees from the University of the Philippines and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she was twice awarded the much-coveted Levi Harbour Scholarship for Asian Women. She chairs the UP Music Education Department and is a member of the Executive Committee on Music, National Commission for Culture and the Arts.