Music in preservice primary education: National developments

Research Team


Funding Source

Chief Investigators:
Dr Neryl Jeanneret
Associate Professor David Forrest (RMIT)

Research Assistant:
Jennifer Stevens-Ballenger


Melbourne Graduate School of Education


The National Review of School Music Education (2005), The National Music Workshop Report (2006) and the Victorian Music Workshop Report (2007) have all highlighted the need for the improvement of preservice education in primary music but there has been very little in the way of concrete recommendations. This study collected and analysed the views of key stakeholders connected with these reports and music education academics in order to provide a clearer perspective of the expectations of preservice music education for both generalist and specialist primary teachers. The results of this study indicate that there are wide ranging perceptions about preservice primary music education and still no real distinction between the expectations of the specialist versus generalist teaching music in the primary school. It emerged that a number of the respondents are principally concerned with the acquisition and development of music skills and theoretical knowledge within preservice primary education. Many of the skills that are deemed important for primary music educators emerged as those requiring extensive periods of study to master which implies that a base degree in music is essential for the delivery of music in the primary classroom. The results of this study also call for an examination of how these expectations can be matched, accommodated and/or modified with the capacity of the universities to deliver in the current climate.


The methodology involved an analysis of qualitative data collected via a survey with open-ended questions distributed via email. The target groups for the data collection were all music education academics (n=74) in Australia, and key stakeholders (n=55) involved in the National Music Workshop (2007). All the participants were asked What are important knowledge and skills for primary music educators and What should be in a music teacher education course of study for primary school teachers? In addition the music education academics were asked: What support can be provided for inservice teachers that build on this preparation and What are the differences between preparing generalist and specialist music educators for primary classrooms? The analysis occurred in a number of stages. Firstly, eight categories of information were identified in the response data: knowledge, skills, attributes, opportunity, internal support, external support, specialist preparation and generalist preparation. These eight categories became the overarching categories for the second stage of data analysis, whereby a line-by-line coding of the survey data was undertaken. At this stage, all recurring ideas were recorded and matched in accordance with the categories and those frequently occurring were considered to be emergent themes arising from the data. To ensure that all respondent views were adequately represented, a range of sample ideas based on the differing (and often opposing) views were also extracted from the data.

Publications/ Presentations

Stevens-Ballenger, J., Jeanneret, N. & Forrest, D. (2010). Preservice primary music: Where to begin?
Victorian Journal of Music Education, 1, 36-41.

Jeanneret, N. & Forrest, D. (2009). Teaching Music: How we prepare the Primary generalist? In Proceedings of the Asian Pacific Symposium on Music Education Research, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Shanghai, China.

Jeanneret, N. & Forrest, D. (2009). Music in preservice primary education: Current developments in Australia. In W. Baker (Ed.) Musical Understanding. Proceedings of the Australian Society for Music Education National Conference, Launceston.