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Music plays an essential part of our society. It contributes to holistic growth; intellectually, emotionally and physically, through creativity and expression. Well, what is education? Plato's response,
"surely gymnastics for the body and music (ie. literature and arts) for the mind." Therefore, if we recognize music as an integral part of life, stimulating growth of the entire person,  we can understand why music forms a necessary part of public education. This particular web page and its corresponding links, examine the evolution of music education in Ontario from the 1950 to 1998. It considers both government policies (curriculum documents) and reflections by music educators from this era, and attempts to link any similarities and differences between both, music education policy and practice. This examination is not a comprehensive study, rather it is a general and brief overview of music education in Ontario since the mid twentieth century. It hopes to provide an overall understanding into the general nature of music education with emphasis on new developments and changes in policy and practice.

Information within this web page have been compiled from government documents, personal interviews with music educators and scholars, textbooks from the 1950s to 1998, photographs, sheet music, research papers, elementary and secondary music tests and examinations. From this information, it was evident that certain aspects of music education have remained essentially the same, while some have changed, and others have been developed. Since 1950, it is generally agreed that music interprets a wide range of human experiences, and that these experiences foster student creativity and expression. That is, growth. It helps students grow intellectually and emotionally, and provides a real sense of self-fulfillment and achievement, while increasing self-esteem and striving for a sense of aesthetic awareness. However, although the above points have been recognized by the government, music education continues to struggle for its survival as it has in the past. Presently, it continues to play a secondary role in education, with government reforms accentuating new technologies.

Music education in Ontario was primarily vocal based during the mid twentieth century and slowly evolved, through "experimental classes", into both vocal and instrumental music. In the 1950s, curriculum documents for music were generally very vague, especially when compared to other disciplines such as math or English. As time progressed they did improve slightly, becoming more detailed and providing teachers with course aims and objectives, including some implementation strategies and techniques. As documents progressed over the years, they began to reflect changes in society. Music polices, and indeed education policies in general, recognized an evolving multicultural populace by incorporating pictures of music students from various ethnic backgrounds (early 1980s). Previously, especially in the middle half of the twentieth century, written text occupied most, if not all, of the curriculum document, excluding photographs and visuals. Therefore, the physical nature of government documents have changed over time. As well as recognizing the multicultural nature of our society, more recent music curriculum documents (1990 and 1998) acknowledge issues such as sex equity, racial and ethnocultural equity, exceptional students, values and education, and computers in music. The curriculum has become more inclusive to our changing communities. Government policies and documents, however, are ineffective if teachers do not implement the curriculum. Therefore, teacher focus is a key factor to policy and curriculum implementation. More will be said about the above in the "Music Curriculum" link.   
We would encourage other proponents of music education and indeed the arts, to pursue this topic further. Music education is constantly fighting for its rightful place under the umbrella of education. Although written in 1951, Roy Fenwick's assertion is still valid today:
There has probably never been a time in history when music was more needed than at the present. In these days of uncertainty, suspicion, and bewilderment, our schools must develop a future generation able to face a changing world with unembittered minds.

William Shakespeare's character
Lorenzo, from the Merchant of Venice also expresses his view about music:

                       The man that hath not music in himself,
                       Nor is moved with concord of sweet sounds,
                       Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
                       The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
                       And his affections dark as Erebus:
                       Let no such man be trusted.

                                                             Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene I


The History of Music Curriculum in Ontario 1950-1998
In the Bowels of the Tuba: Teacher Insights
Music Text Books