In view of providing students with a holistic and well rounded education, developing the students with a sense of appreciation for music is important. As such, music is a compulsory subject for all primary and lower secondary students to take. However, music, unlike the other core academic subjects, is graded but not taken into account for their total score at the end of the year.
As students get more specialized and get to choose their preferred subjects during upper secondary level, they can then choose if they want to take music as one of their core academic subjects which will be taken into account for their total score at the end of the year.
Purpose of Music Programmes
The purpose of music programmes during the earlier stages of education in Singapore is to inculcate a sense and love for music. Through learning music, it is hoped that they can become musically inclined individuals who understand and appreciate the value of music in local and global cultures and relate musical expression with everyday life.
Through learning music, students are also given the opportunity of expressing themselves through musical expression. They are able to express their creativity, show insights on how they view the world and their way of thinking. It is a good way for them to channel their thoughts and opinions by making and creating music.
Primary Education Music Curriculum
During primary school education, students are to take music as a compulsory subject for all six years. The music curriculum for primary school music education is split into three age groups: Primary 1-2, Primary 3-4 and Primary 5-6.
The music syllabus for primary schools focuses on cultivating and developing student’s skills and knowledge through providing them with experiences and opportunities in active listening of music and music making. Active listening involves appreciation and understanding of music through observing, recognizing and identifying musical features and elements. Music making involves performing in an ensemble and thus developing a sensitive musical ear.
Music for Primary 1-2 involves the basic elements of music, from understanding musical elements like note values, pitch and timbre. This would allow students to be able to understand the basics of musical appreciation and learn how to identify different types of music. The emphasis in this early stage is on songs, especially patriotic songs and cultural songs, thus influencing children from young to promote harmony between the different races. Music for Primary 3-4 advances the students' basic knowledge in music by giving more in-depth lessons on the elements of music. However the focus for students has now changed to dance, traditional cultural dances, rather than songs. Furthermore, students progress on from simple beat making and percussion instruments to a melodic instrument, most commonly a recorder. Music for Primary 5-6 is also a progression of the knowledge taught in Primary 1-4, now focusing on conducting and different musical styles.
Lower Secondary Music Curriculum
During Secondary School education, students are only required to take music as a subject during their lower Secondary school level, but can choose to take music at upper secondary level, even choosing to take music as an 'O' Level subject.
The music syllabus for lower Secondary level is very much similar to the Primary School level in its focus and methods. However there is much more knowledge and skills to be taught in the lower Secondary syllabus. However, most of the musical education scene in Secondary Schools come from the Music Elective Programme.
Music Elective Programme (MEP)
The Music Elective Programme(MEP) is a 4-year special programme which provides opportunities for academically able and musically inclined pupils, to take up a more serious study of music. This will lead to pupils take music as an ‘O’ Level subject at the end of the 4th year of the MEP course. This 'O' Level exam is different from the one taken by students of the 'normal' Music course, as such the Music Elective Programme also runs parallel to the Music course in Secondary Schools. Students in the Music Elective Programme study at a much higher level than the normal courses with topics such as history of music, music analysis and composition and musical theory. Students that wish to enrol in this programme must also have at least a Grade 3 for any one of their respective instruments from the United Kingdom's Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music or equivalent, otherwise they must pass a rigorous written and practical audition conducted by the schools themselves.