This thesis is a study of the establishment of the music curriculum in state-supported schools in South Australia from the beginnings of such schooling until 1920. There will be a discussion of issues to be explored and the method by which this investigation will proceed. A literature survey of relevant research will be included, after which there will be a sketch of the development of state-supported schooling in South Australia. Several broad themes have been chosen as the means of organising the historical material: the rationales offered for the inclusion of music in schooling, the methodologies, syllabi and materials of such music instruction, the provisions for teacher training in music, both preservice and as professional development for established teachers, and the place and function of music in schooling. Each of these themes will form the framework for a chronological narrative. Comparisons will be made with three neighbouring colonies/States concerning each of these themes and conclusions will be drawn. Finally, overall conclusions will be made concerning the initial contentions raised in this chapter in the light of the data presented.
Although this study is principally concerned with the establishment of music in state-supported schooling, there will be a brief consideration of the colony of South Australia from its proclamation in 1836. The music pedagogical context that prevailed at that time will be discussed and this will, of necessity, include developments that occurred before 1836. The period under consideration will close in 1920, by which time the music curriculum for South Australia was established, and the second of the influential figures in music education was at his zenith. At this time there was a new school curriculum in place which remained essentially unchanged for several decades.
As well as the broad themes identified, this thesis will investigate several contentions as it attempts to chronicle and interpret the establishment and development of music in state-supported schooling in South Australia up to 1920. The first contention of this thesis is that music in state-supported schooling, once established, did not change significantly from its inception throughout the period under consideration. In seeking a discussion of the existence and importance of the notion of an absence of change or stasis, the theory of punctuated equilibria, which identifies stasis as the norm in the evolutionary growth of species, will be employed as an insightful analogy. It should be recognised that stasis exists, should be expected and may well be the prevailing norm.
The second contention of this thesis is that advocates were and continue to be crucial to the establishment and continued existence of music in state-supported schooling. For change to occur there must be pressure through such agencies as motivated individuals holding positions of authority, and thus able to influence the educational system and its provisions. The pedagogical method introduced into an educational system is often that espoused by the acknowledged advocate. During the period under consideration there were two significant advocates for music in state-supported schools.
The third contention of this thesis is that music was used in South Australia, as in the other colonies/States, as an agent of social reform, through the selection of repertoire and the way in which music was employed in state-supported schooling. Music was considered inherently uplifting. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the music selected for school singing carried texts with messages deemed significant by those who controlled the education system. The repertoire was not that of the receiving class but came from a middle class tradition of fully notated art music in which correct performance and notational reading were emphasised. A sweet, pure vocal tone was desired, as strident, harsh, speaking tones were perceived as a symptom of incipient larrikinism which was not desired in schooling. Music was seen as a contributor to good order and discipline in schooling.