Crossroads for Cultural Education Through Music

Recent Developments of School Music in Japan
  • Tatsuko Takizawa
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 11)

Since April 2002, the Japanese school music curriculum has been dramatically altered from teaching Western-style music to global music through cultural perspectives. These cultural themes have now started to be implemented in the Japanese music curriculum. A cultural music education entails including in the curriculum traditional Japanese music materials, as well as other kinds of music, together with the Western style of music, which has been taught since the beginning of Japanese school music in the nineteenth century. Thus, teaching and researching all kinds of music including classical, popular and folk music, as well as any other kinds of music from all over the world, will be encouraged, especially in secondary schools. Each student must learn to play at least one musical instrument in the genre of Japanese traditional music over 3 school years. Thus, for the first time in the history of Japanese music education, playing a Japanese traditional musical instrument is being included in the curriculum, marking a shift from a Westernized education to one that is focused on Japanese traditional music.

In 1879, during the Meiji era, school music in Japan started introducing the Western tonic sol-fa system and staff notation to students. From this time to the present, music education in Japan has been based on learning to play and sing according to this system. Lying behind this paradigm was the national social movement aimed at catching up politically as well as economically with Western societies, since Westernization meant the modernization of Japan. Along with a social pressure to Westernize Japanese lifestyles, school music has also been strongly influenced by the Western style of teaching.


Musical Instrument Cultural Education Music Education Western Style Cultural Theme 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tatsuko Takizawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MusicAichi University of EducationJapan

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