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Gabriella Dohány: Options for Defining Music Literacy

School literacy might be defined as a knowledge structure that spans school subjects. Among all the literacy domains, music literacy represents skills development through learning in its natural context. The theoretical foundations of this development in Hungarian public education are to be found in Zoltán Kodály’s system of music pedagogy. The work of developing skills can be conducted in both elementary and secondary education, from Years 1 to 10, according to the prescriptions of the National Core Curriculum. This study targets the measurability of effectiveness in the final period of music education. The effectiveness of music education in public schools was explored through descriptions of music teachers’ experience. This study aims to explore all the factors that influence the effectiveness of music pedagogy and the development of music literacy. In the course of the research, three different problem domains were articulated. Firstly, the social context of the research was explored, revealing the social embeddedness of music pedagogy. In this regard, one can observe the content and direction of new value orientations that have emerged while knowledge has been acquired to an ever lesser degree in school. The line of thinking evolves from an analysis of the dichotomy found in comparing the world of school with the subcultural context of entertainment. Secondly, the domain of musical components was analysed. The work of exploration in this field was based on findings in cognitive music psychology. This approach suggests that the process of music cognition is directed by the activity of schema recognition in cortical brain functioning, hence musical activity may be related to the development of thinking skills with isomorphic structures. Consequently, the development of music skills might also affect the development of operational thinking. Thirdly, the criteria and system of requirements for music literacy that can be attained in public education are described with the purpose of laying the foundations for measurement in the field. In this section, Zoltán Kodály’s music pedagogy is summarized. The basic principles of this system of music pedagogy are manifested here, including a start in early childhood, lessons conducted as a community activity, based on singing and rooted in traditional music, and use of the tonic solfa. Further in this section, the prescriptions of the National Core Curriculum on music education are reviewed. It perceives music education as part of the key competency of aesthetic and artistic awareness and expression. It places the experience of music in the centre of music education and provides detailed requirements in the chapter on development tasks. As a result of this exploratory study, the standards of music education may be elaborated, making it possible to define the nature of what can be expected and attained within music literacy in public education by conducting paper-and-pencil test-based empirical experiments.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 110. Number 3. 185-210. (2010)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Dohány Gabriella, Szegeti Tudományegyetem Neveléstudományi Doktori Iskola, 6722–H Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30–34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia