on Music Education
Human development, well-being and health
i) Music education contributes to human development across the lifespan
The right to participate in cultural life is recognized in a number of international human rights treaties, notably in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law, and which has been ratified by 179 countries. § 27 states “...everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts (…).” Because music is a constituent part of culture, the right of everyone to participate in cultural life can be said to include the right of everyone to participate in musical life. Consequently, countries that have formally agreed to the right to participate in cultural life by ratifying a relevant human rights treaty, must not prevent their citizens from freely participating in musical life. Participation in musical life can be said to include listening to, enjoying, making, creating, teaching, performing, circulating and learning about music; thus the right of everyone to participate in musical life includes the right to participate in a music education.
Diversity and intercultural understanding
Active music-making—with the voice, body and instruments, individually and with others—should be at the heart of any music education. Active music-making is participatory, interactive, reflective and creative. It is a means to express and understand the self and others while deepening musical learning, for anyone and at any level, in formal and informal contexts.
There is thus an urgent need for teacher education programs to empower music teachers to meet the needs of all learners. In order to realize overarching principles—such as universal access, inclusivity, and diversity—the goal of music teacher education is to produce effective teachers equipped with theoretical knowledge, empathy, artistic experience, pedagogical expertise, confidence, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Additionally, they must develop a deep understanding of the diverse historical, cultural, psychological and philosophical foundations of learning and teaching music, including cultural competence, political consciousness and social-emotional awareness.
This type of preparation often takes place at higher education institutions. Both an investment in institutional resources and political will are necessary to ensure the provision of a sufficient number of high-quality teacher education programs. Programs must be research-based; be subjected to rigorous evidence-based evaluation; and closely relate to school curricula, educational and cultural policy contexts, and real-life challenges and solutions. Teachers should take the opportunity to engage in peer learning and have access to skilled mentors and supervisors. They should also become familiar with and competent in how to advocate for robust teacher education.