A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
Traditional Music and Multiculturalism in Malaysian Education: Approaches in Music Appreciation Classes
Tan Sooi Beng
Until recently, music education in South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines has been based mainly on European models. Music programmes focus mainly on Western classical music theory, harmony and history. Students play Western percussion instruments and recorders in the classroom and join Western kinds of school bands, orchestras or choirs as extra-curricular activities. By stressing the importance of the Western system, educators have implied that other musical systems including their own are relatively unimportant or even inferior. In recent times, efforts have been made by music educators in South East Asia to re-evaluate the nature of music education. Increasing numbers of educators realize that there is a need to introduce their own traditional music (including the music of minorities) as well as the music of South East Asia and other parts of the world to the young through the music curriculum. This new trend in music education in South East Asia has occurred in tandem with the rise of an articulate middle class (including music educators) who are experiencing a new wave of nostalgia for their traditional culture and identity. This new middle class is concerned with the demise of its traditions caused by the emergence of a global consumer culture that has dominated many aspects of everyday life. This chapter looks at how particular forms of traditional Malaysian music and selected genres of traditional music taught in certain schools in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have been introduced in Malaysian secondary schools to children aged between 13 and 17. A comparative approach, which could be adapted to teaching the traditional music of South East Asia in music appreciation classes through active music-making and guided listening, is illustrated in this article. The notation and methods of teaching used in the respective countries have been adopted. It should be stressed that cross-cultural studies are new in Malaysia and educators are still experimenting with appropriate instructional approaches.
Professor in Ethnomusicology, School of Arts, Universiti Sains, Malaysia; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
L. Joubert (ed.) Educating in the Arts – The Asian Experience: Twenty-Four Essays, © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008
or Yamaha exams every year. Indonesians. Through the multicultural approach. Music is a compulsory subject at the elementary level. all public schools share a common syllabus. they will be less prone to judge new music without first trying to understand it. however. They will also learn different ways to construct and notate music. Malaysia has one of the highest number of private candidates taking these exams in the region. Kadazan.S. a music curriculum designed to help students understand cultural diversity in their own country as well as in the region will encourage inter-ethnic understanding and intercultural communication. the Philippines and Indonesia. playing and learning techniques of South East Asian ensembles but also the differences between South East Asian music and Western classical music. Why Multiculturalism?
A multicultural approach to music learning is important for many reasons. They will be able to see that Malaysian music has many similarities with the music of its neighbours. These children take the graded exams of the Royal Schools of Music of Trinity College. 1993). Eurasians. Beng
1. Given this diversity.
. Many countries in South East Asia have long histories of cross-cultural influence emanating from both Asian and Western sources. London. Students exposed to a variety of sounds can also develop greater musical flexibility. Bajau. This approach will also give recognition to the value of all kinds of music (including the music of ethnic minorities and one’s own traditional music). Melanau. The population of Malaysia. 28% Chinese (of different dialect groups). musical style. Bidayuh. Thailand. Through involvement in other musical styles. nearly 8% Indians (originating from different parts of India) and over 3% others (which includes Arabs. They also have multi-ethnic populations resulting from migration and colonial intervention.
T. As education is centralized. be noted that many middle-class families send their children for private piano (and other instrumental) lessons outside school hours. Iban. Thais and Philipinos) (Department of Statistics. textbooks and teaching materials provided by the Ministry of Education. students in Malaysia will be able to see not only the similarities (as well as the regional differences) in instrumentation. Penan and many others). It should. comprises over 60% Bumiputera (Malays and other indigenous groups such as the Orang Asli. Music Curriculum in Malaysian Secondary Schools
Music education in Malaysia is compulsory and centralized at the primary level (ages 7–12) but is an elective subject at lower secondary (ages 13–15) and upper secondary (ages 16–17) levels. There are similarities in the music education systems of Malaysia. Music classes can be taken as electives at the secondary level. for instance. Music first became an intra-curricular subject at the primary school level in 1982. form. All schools are governed by curricula.
1993). pitch. students may learn to play the pi phat and mahori ensembles while in Chiengmai.1 At the secondary level. as well as the music of other cultures. most public schools do not teach students to play traditional instruments in class at either elementary or lower secondary levels. which can afford to acquire the instruments.
. the music curriculum is multicultural and emphasizes knowledge of the traditional music and cultures of Malaysia as well as that of other countries. collection of photographs. Some basic rhythms and forms of Malaysian music have been included in the new syllabus. there is a conscious effort to include Malaysian and South East Asian musical components in all sections of the curriculum. students may learn the lanna ensemble. scale. In 1997. basic dance rhythms in Malaysia and the musical
1 Students can learn how to play traditional musical instruments as an extra-curricular activity at the primary and secondary level. dynamics and form. defining the special characteristics of traditional music and other elements connected to music. the pilot project was extended to boarding schools. music appreciation and performance skills and expression are also found in the music curricula of other South East Asian countries such as Thailand. In 1996. the new syllabus promotes creativity and spontaneity as well as ensuring that there is conformity between its objectives and its content (Ministry of Education. due to the lack of trained teachers and instruments. South East Asia and Asia and the lives and works of a few famous Western composers. The type of traditional ensemble taught depends on the instruments available in the particular region. However. attendance of performances and documentation in the form of a folio or a scrapbook and tape recordings. where students learn the elements of music such as rhythm. where students are encouraged to carry out group projects of selected traditional music based on interviews with performers. The level of difficulty in basic theory and harmony is increased each year. Musical instruments are provided by the Ministry of Education. concentrating on the traditional music of Malaysia. 1995). in the theory section. in Bangkok. especially in richer schools. The objectives of this curriculum include raising the level of knowledge regarding traditional music and culture through music that is inherited. For instance. At the same time. discussing other elements connected to the traditional music of other cultures and studying and comparing several types of traditional music of Malaysia with the traditional music of other countries (Ministry of Education. The music curriculum is divided into the following parts: – Basic theory and elements of style. As a result. – Music appreciation. music was introduced as a subject in 20 pilot secondary schools in Malaysia. – Performance skills and expression. The core components of basic theory. For instance. on selected traditional and Western instruments and – Documentation. the Philippines and Indonesia. melody.18 A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
The primary school syllabus was very Westernized till 1994 when the curriculum was revised.
the musical styles and instruments of the various ethnic groups in Malaysia as well as of South East Asia. a participatory and comparative approach should be employed in music appreciation classes.
. To start with. Kadazan. There is little room for improvisation. Many teachers have no background in traditional music and are learning as they teach. Due to the lack of time. Only selected instruments used in performance classes. Example of an Instructional Approach in Music Appreciation Classes
In order to sustain the interest of students in the music of different ethnic groups in Malaysia as well as of South East Asia and Asia. recorders and percussion instruments are supplied to selected pilot schools. there are not enough instruments for all students to play at the same time. Iban. skilled teachers and other limitations. The music classes in the public schools are meant to introduce the diverse forms of music to the students.
4. such as kompang.252
T. The music curriculum is centralized by the Ministry of Education and standard textbooks.
elements of selected forms of Malaysian music are explored. keyboards. Current Limitations of Music Teaching
Schools that offer music as an elective at the secondary school level face many problems and music instructors have to work within a number of constraints. gamelan. students are required to learn how to play specific traditional pieces for Malay instruments such as the kompang (year 1). Asia and Europe are discussed and in the performance section. Classes are big (with 40 or more students in a class) and the majority of the students have not seen the instruments or heard the music taught before. Chinese and Indian folksongs as well as the songs of other Malaysian and Asian communities. music teachers are given only two and a half h to teach music each week. Very often. The students also sing Malay. in the appreciation section. Talented students are expected to pursue advanced training at specialized colleges for the arts (such as the Akademi Seni Kebangsaan in Malaysia). notation and musical pieces are used by all schools. Because the syllabus is wide and students have to cover all four components of the curriculum. teachers and students are sometimes prevented from playing musical instruments by certain religious authorities. instruments. caklempong (year 2) and gamelan Melayu (year 3) in addition to the Western keyboard and recorder. Furthermore. caklempong. the actual number of hours devoted to playing traditional music is limited. to show how the different cultures interrelate with one another and to promote mutual understanding. it is thus not possible to teach musical skills at a high level in public schools. especially in rural schools.
including Malaysia. We emphasize that students cannot learn about a musical form or ensemble through the textbook without hearing or experiencing the musical sound itself. encyclopaedias or the Internet (if computers are available. Examples of lesson plans using the above approach are given below. such as bamboo and wooden flutes. It should be noted that a similar approach may be applied to the introduction of many other instruments. using the mnemonic syllables used in traditional music.
5. flutes and stringed instruments) and bamboo ensembles (mainly struck and stamped bamboo instruments) have been selected for these lesson plans. suspended gongs. Audiovisual aids. teachers rely greatly on singing and body percussion to experience music. the music can be sung. scales and forms of other ensembles in Malaysia and South East Asia should be discussed so that students understand that the different forms of music of the region share commonalities and that they are different from Western classical music. jaw’s harp. moving to music and guided listening.
5. lutes and mouth organs as well as vocal music in South East Asia. focusing on cross-cultural influences. the gong
. musical textures. should be introduced. musical recordings and videotapes of the particular ensemble. rhythmic cycles played by drums. Lesson Plans
Gong ensembles of South East Asia (comprising mainly knobbed gongs which sit on a rack. In Malaysia. xylophones. Cultural context.1. drums. especially in urban schools) and to document these cultures in their folios. Practical exercises should be supplemented with photographs. as these ensembles can be found in all South East Asian countries. Similarities and differences. It is important that the students are allowed to experience performing and hearing how traditional pieces work to give them some kind of practical experience. Discussions of the cultural context and historical development of the respective ensembles. If there are no instruments available. playing instruments. Improvized instruments.18 A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
Active music making. The similarities and differences between musical instruments. Students should be encouraged to find out more about the cultures of the ethnic groups studied by looking up books. as a result of constraints of time and lack of instruments. singing and body percussion. all of which have similar musical characteristics. Lesson Plan 1 (Wayang Kulit Kelantan)
Objectives. Introduction to basic instruments and polyphonic texture played by melodic instruments and various drums. even though musical instruments are not available. The study of multicultural music should be approached through various experiences in singing. Teachers are also encouraged to substitute actual instruments with other instruments available or to create their own instruments that simulate the sounds of the original instruments.
which are repeated throughout the piece. The end of each cycle is marked by the tetawak ibu (G). 18.2). the giant ogre (raksaksa). Wayang Kelantan is an indigenous form of Malay shadow puppet theatre which combines Thai. c = ringing sound ‘cing’) (see Fig. which is punctuated by other gongs and cymbals. For example.3). The gongan is further subdivided by the canang (dong = the pitch of canang ibu. If instruments are not available. depict the ideal of Malay beauty. melody and cross-cultural influences.S. or students can sing using mnemonic syllables. Musical Elements
Polyphonic texture. ding = the pitch of canang anak) and kesi. Beng
cycle (gongan). It is found in the northeastern state of Kelantan near the Thai–Malaysian border. It uses the Kelantan-Patani dialect of Malay and is based on local versions of the Indian epic. Instruments (see Fig. local folk stories are also performed. Students are asked to play the rhythmic cycle if instruments are available. Together. Materials. respectively. The kesi produces two timbres (x = dampened sound ‘cap’. or students can sing using drum syllables. Lagu Pak Dogol. The rhythmic cycle. such as Seri Rama and Siti Dewi.
. Javanese and Malay characteristics. The gongan is binary and is subdivided in half by the tetawak anak (g) which is played on the fourth beat. the two drums provide the steady pulse of the gong unit. Maharaja Wana has Javanese characteristics. Wayang Kelantan instruments (other gongs and drums can be substituted).254
T. Lagu Pak Dogol. other drums and gongs can be substituted. The Wayang Kelantan puppets have Thai. Learning Wayang Kelantan.
6. The gong cycle. Javanese. Maharaja Wana resembles Thai puppets because of its snub nose and pinnacled crown. They have small mouths and noses and narrow eyes similar to refined Javanese puppets. Students exchange parts (see Fig. the exercises can be sung.1. The end of each cycle is marked by a gong. Ramayana. These include the round eyes portraying violence and the feet. For instance. Siti Dewi wears a traditional Malay female headdress while Seri Rama is adorned with a Thai pinnacled crown. The music of the Wayang Kelantan is based on gong cycles (gongan). The gedumbak and gendang anak play interlocking patterns producing a resultant rhythm which is repeated throughout the lagu. which are spaced close together. consists of eight-beat gong cycles. Students are asked to play the gongan if instruments are available. Occasionally. The faces of the refined princes and princesses.1) 6. At the same time. Students exchange parts. Middle Eastern. which play on every beat. 18. other drums and gongs can be substituted. which accompanies the clown Pak Dogol when he walks. 18. Indian and South East Asian elements.
18.3 Interlocking patterns of the gedumbak and gendang anak
. 18.1 Musical instruments of Wayang Kelantan (Tan and Matusky 1999: 15)
dc 7 xD
2 Dx 4 g
Dx 3 dc
Fig. 18.18 A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
Fig.2 Gongan of lagu pak dogol (Tan and Matusky 1999: 21)
As in the countries of origin. Through this practical approach. the Thai dance drama of Kelantan and South Thailand. t = drum syllable ‘ting’ produced by striking the drum head near its rim with the fingers of one hand and closing the base end of the drum with the other. Because of its quadruple reed. The gedombak corresponds to the thap. kulintang (Philippines) caklempung (Sumatra). In sung pieces. gamelan Melayu of West Malaysia. the serunai provides a loud sound.
. This musical ensemble resembles that of the Menora. polyphonic texture. saing waing (Burma). gamelan Jawa. The melody is played by the serunai. Rhythmic and gong cycles are found in the different musical cultures of South East Asia. kulintangan (Sabah). the same lesson plan and method of teaching could be applied to introduce other gong ensembles such as the makyong. Five to seven tone scales are used. For this. mahori (Thailand). students are introduced to the similarities (with regional differences) in instrumentation and instrumental functions. the geduk to the klong.S. The serunai is also similar to other reed instruments in the Middle East. The cipher notation and mnemonic syllables have been adapted from the notation used in the respective South East Asian societies. It must be emphasized that one cannot learn an entire musical system by just looking at notation. highly ornamented melodies and the cyclic nature of forms and cipher notation found in South East Asian gong ensembles. Malay and Middle Eastern elements are found in the music of wayang kelantan.256
T. such as the surnay of Iraq and the zurna of Turkey. gamelan gong kebyar (Bali). Although I have focused on Wayang Kelantan as an example. Students are asked to listen to the serunai melody of lagu pak dogol and the stepwise movement with small leaps. As far as possible. d = drum syllable ‘dung’ produced by the right hand striking the drum head towards its centre and leaving the base end open.
7. the serunai to the pi. intensive training is needed with a teacher on a one-to-one basis. Summary. gendang silat. Melody (serunai. repeated notes and ornamentation. Beng
c = drum syllable ‘cap’ produced by the right hand striking the drum head towards its centre with a springy hand and closing the base end with the other hand. Note on notation.The melodies are improvisatory and are highly ornamented. dalang). the kesi to the cing and the canang and tetawak to the mong of Thailand. Intercultural Influences in Instrumentation and Musical Style
Thai. engkerumong (Sarawak). the notation functions as a reference and is available only for the main melody and percussion instruments. pin peat (Kampuchea). the notation should not be used for reading while playing. which can be heard above the drumming. the serunai alternates with the dalang to produce the melodic line (changing at the end of the gong cycle). pi phat (Laos and Thailand) and so on.
to cook rice and other foods and as musical instruments. Instruments. body percussion can be used. These gongs play complex interlocking rhythms.1.4). bamboo instruments still prevail in the musical lives of small communities such as the Temiar of Kelantan. such as bamboo tubes of different lengths. which is also beaten with an unpadded stick.18 A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
7. Rhythmic cycles. resultant rhythm. plucked idiophones such as the jaw’s harp and chordophones such as the tube zither. This is followed by the gendang (imitating the drum) playing a similar pattern. If instruments are not available. Sometimes the melody is accompanied by a drone. Solo instruments play short melodic motifs. Today they are still played to drive away evil spirits during healing ceremonies and harvest festivals or for entertainment in many parts of Asia. but other bamboo instruments can be substituted and students can be encouraged to make their own bamboo instruments by cutting strips of bamboo from the surrounding vegetation. Kajang. which are expensive and difficult to acquire. interlocking rhythms. Ensemble instruments comprise mainly idiophones. The koritikon (named after the koritikon gong) starts playing a basic rhythmic pattern. rhythmic cycle. These instruments are usually played for courting and entertainment. It is found in the tropical jungles of Asia and has many uses. which are improvised. 18. In Malaysia. which comprise hanging gongs of various sizes used to accompany dances. The bamboo tubes play interlocking rhythmic patterns with their entrances staggered. the Iban. interlocking and resultant rhythms and crosscultural context. Bamboo is an old plant of pre-Neolithic origin. Ensemble instruments play interlocking patterns that produce the resultant rhythms. These ensembles often accompany dances. the Jah Hut of Pahang. which are stamped or struck with pieces of wood. Materials. known as togunggu or togunggak struck with wooden sticks may be substituted (see Fig. bamboo is used to carry water. The timbres and interlocking rhythms of the bamboos should be emphasized. It should be noted that a number of mouth organs or tube zithers can also be played at the same time if the performers wish. Bamboo instruments in a cross-cultural context. bamboo instruments can be played solo or in ensembles. Kayan and Kenyah of Sarawak and the Kadazan Dusun of Sabah. The other bamboo tubes take turns to join
. As in other parts of Asia. When expensive gongs are not available. Lesson Plan 2 (Togunggu/ Togunggak)
Objectives. imitating the ringing sound of the koritikon gong. the exercises can be clapped. Togunggu/togunggak instruments. rituals and festivals. Bamboo instruments are therefore one of the earliest instruments found in Asia. bamboo tubes. rituals and festivals. Learning Togunggu/togunggak. The Dusun of Sabah are known for their gong ensembles. Solo bamboo instruments in Malaysia comprise mainly aerophones such as the mouth organ and flute. In many Asian communities. polyphonic texture played by various bamboo instruments. This bamboo tube is played with an unpadded stick. Bamboo ensembles are often used to substitute for gong ensembles. Introduction to basic instruments. The performers improvise upon the same melodic motifs.
Kalingga. We are still gathering materials from Malaysia and South East
8. kuribadon. producing a complex rhythm and intricate interlocking timbres. ding galung (stamping tubes of the Jah Hut. patteteg (xylophone blades. Through this practical approach.258
T. Summary. Philippines). dururung. Kalingga. If not. polombuson
the ensemble. Malaysia). loposon. producing slightly dampened sounds that imitate those of the corresponding gongs.S.4 Togunggu/Togunggak names of instruments (left to right): gandang. Students are asked to play the interlocking rhythmic patterns if instruments are available. let me stress that developing music materials for the classroom in public schools requires a long process of planning and experimentation prior to its implementation. koritikon. 18. tururui. tongatong (stamping tubes. Conclusion
By way of conclusion. The other bamboo tubes are struck with sticks padded with rubber. Sarawak). tangon. Students can also exchange parts. kutowon. Philippines) and many other ensembles in other parts of South East Asia. The same lesson plan and method of teaching can be applied to introduce other bamboo ensembles such as the alu dan tangbut (stamping tubes of the Kayan. Beng
Fig. students are introduced to the similarities (with regional differences) in instrumentation and instrumental functions and complex interlocking rhythmic patterns found in Malaysian and South East Asian bamboo ensembles. other bamboo instruments can be substituted or students can clap the parts or use body percussion.
18. We recognize that there are some limitations in the approach put forward here but these cannot be avoided. which is necessary for class participation throughout the country. School teachers have to be provided with teaching aids and training workshops.5 Interlocking Rhythms in Gong Ensembles of the Dusun of Tambunan.18 A Paradigm Shift in Teaching Music in Schools
Fig. Creativity and improvisation are limited as the lesson plans are meant to introduce the music of gong and bamboo ensembles to students who have no knowledge of the respective
. They include the standardization of pitches for gongs. Sabah (Played on the Togunggu/Togunggak)
the instructional approaches and textbooks for secondary schools. Pulau Pinang: Asian Centre. Tan. F.B. Malaysia) 1998. we believe that through active participation and music-making in a multicultural context in the classroom. by F. C. and Matusky. Manila: Centre for Philippine Music Traditions.K. Materials obtained during fieldwork helped in the development of the music curriculum. Jakarta) for introducing me to selected music programmes and individuals involved in school music curricula in the individual countries. M. Beng
forms of music. K. 1998. My gratitude also goes to Orawan Banchongsilpa (Chulalangkorn University Demonstration School). Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia. Pengantar Muzik Malaysia Buku I. to write the textbooks and to run workshops for music teachers. A Training Manual for the Workshop on Traditional Philippine Musical Instruments. Bangkok: Srinakharinwirot University. Wisuttipaet. Juju Masunah (Yogyakarta) and Jenny Lindsay (Ford Foundation. Takizawa. Theoretical Concepts in Thai Classical Music. S. Felicidad Prudente and Kristina Benitez (University of Philippines).
Acknowledgements I would like to thank the Toyota Foundation for providing me with a grant to conduct fieldwork in schools and institutions of higher learning in South East Asia. Department of Statistics 1993. Pengantar Muzik Malaysia Buku 2. Buku Sumber dan Aktiviti Pendidikan Muzik Tingkatan Satu. S. Musics of the World’s Cultures: A Sourcebook for Music Educators. United Kingdom: CIRCME and ISME. Population and Housing Census of 1991. Nevertheless. 1990. Pendidikan Muzik. T. Malaysia) for inviting me to sit on the planning committee of the Music Programme for Secondary Schools in Malaysia. P.
Benitez. Asian Bamboo Music. Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (Ministry of Education. I would also like to thank the Curriculum Development Centre (Ministry of Education. and Matusky. and Prudente. 1998.
.B. Lundquist. 1998. Tan. Pulau Pinang: Asian Centre. 1999. Endo Suanda (Bandung). Trans.S. 1991. B. and how cultures interrelate and enhance one another. Japan: Research Committee for World Musics in Schools. and Szegc. thus encouraging positive attitudes towards multicultural experiences and living with one another. P.260
T. Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia Huraian Sukatan Pelajaran Menengah Atas. Ellsworth Peterson. children learn about the diverse cultures in the region.