Imperatives and Challenges for Popular Music Education in Mainland China

Professor Wai-Chung Ho, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

 Tuesday 26th November 2013, 1-2pm, Room 826

Further details from Lucy Green, l.green2@ioe.ac.uk

Since the 1990s mainland China’s modernisation and globalisation, together with its transition to a market economy, have created new imperatives for, and challenges to the school curriculum. Many reforms have been initiated to improve the quality of basic education in China, including areas such as the school curriculum, material incentives, teachers’ professional development, and students’ personal interests. As a result, the 2011 reform of the Curriculum Standards for Primary Education and Junior Secondary Education mark the first time that the school curriculum has officially included popular songs. With particular reference to Beijing and Shanghai, this empirical study explores Chinese adolescents’ popular music preferences in their daily lives, and to what extent and in what ways they prefer learning popular music, rather than more traditional music curricula, in schools. Data were drawn from questionnaires completed by 2,971 students in Beijing, 1,730 secondary students in Shanghai, interviews with 55 students in Beijing and 60 Shanghai students between 2011 and 2012. The findings can be interpreted as indicating that music and music education, whether in formal or informal settings, are complex cultural constructs that are reinvented through the intertwined interplay between different actors’ preferred musical styles in their multileveled cultural world. This study examines the challenges that mainland China faces concerning the promotion of popular music in school music education, by moving beyond oppositions between culture and power, tradition and modernity, the global and the national, and the pedagogical issues resulting from the introduction of popular music in contemporary China’s education.

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