MUSIC MAKES THE SCHOOL (abridged version)


The inter cantonal working party for school experiments with increased music tuition, with the assistance of the Swiss National Fund for the Furtherance of Scientific Research, has undertaken a three year project during the school years 1988/89 to 1990/91 which, at times, has included more than 50 school classes from all over Switzerland. The trial classes received five instead of two lessons of singing/music per week. The pupils in these classes where, however, under no additional strain, as the increase in music lessons was compensated by an equivalent reduction in the subjects of mathematics, mother-tongue and one further main subject. No subject was to be compensated by adding additional homework.

The objective was to prove scientifically the following supposition: `Intensive occupation with music (singing, production of music in a group and dancing as well as the teaching of the ability to read music and of listening to music) enhances the ability to concentrate, memory and the ability linguistically and generally to express oneself as well as to increase the enjoyment of life itself. This will also influence motivation in school. This is why, even under a reduced quota, normal or better results can be expected in all school subjects.'

Remarkable effects of music tuition

This supposition is based on the publications about music grade schools in Hungary and the results of appropriate school tests in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Reports were made regarding the male and female pupils in the Hungarian music grade schools as to `their ability to be more flexible in mathematics, to use a more lively array of terminology in language studies, to extract the core of supplied literary material more readily, to participate considerably more actively and to master foreign languages more easily'. Similar findings had been made in Germany in Austria. It was because of these reports that pilot projects in extended music teaching were suggested in Muri near Bern in the years 1972 to 1979. There it was obvious from the beginning that the influences on other subjects was such `that the stipulations here had to be stricter, so that the proof was to be taken as valid' and thus the idea was born to reduce the main subjects by one lesson per week. This had the additional advantage that the expansion of the subjects singing/music by three weekly lessons was compensated and for it to be neutral as far as costs were concerned- a very important point with regards to Swiss conditions.

The school experiments in Muri were also successful: "The ability to concentrate and memorise increased and, thanks to better motivation to learn, the performance in school was improved. The pupils were more stable, learnt to sort out conflicts better and to perform in a group. Additionally the development of their intelligence and their creativity was improved. All this corresponds to the results which had been found in the Hungarian music grade schools for years". In the reports on the school tests a new series of school experiments - in a framework of ten theses - had been required to verify the results scientifically. Thanks to tireless efforts from the grassroots it became possible for the conference of educational directors (EDK) to take patronage of the co-ordination and to leave execution to the newly created IASEM.

School trials in the whole of Switzerland

IASEM's project was seen as a starting point to overcome the heavy handed and overpowering practices, which schools had been blamed for in the past. Additionally, for the first time a concrete school project was to be undertaken regardless of cantonal or language barriers to create a collaboration across Switzerland between the teaching professions at the base, on the one hand and the cantonal educational authorities and a university on the other.

The following Cantons actively participated in the school trials: BE with 8 classes, LU with 7, SZ with 3, SO with 6, BL with 4, SH with 1, AR with 2, TG with 1, VD with 10 and VS with 8 classes. These classes were comparatively evenly spread over the whole of the elementary schools levels and they were embedded into the different educational systems of the cantons (for example - transfer into the secondary level began in the canton of Bern after the fourth whereas in the rest of the cantons after the sixth year at school). The cantons of NW, ZG, FR, BS, SG, GR, AG, GE and the Principality of Liechtenstein did not provide classes, they did however express their interest to participate as passive members of IASEM. The EDK provided IASEM with printed matter, photo copies and postage and dealt with the yearly financial audit. Apart from this, IASEM was autonomous and independent. This was vitally important, as it permitted IASEM to proceed at a speed perceived as horrendous by Swiss custom: it was founded in November 1986, school trials began in April 1988. Costs to the cantons were comparatively minor: they paid an annual fee of Fr.1,500 per participating class. In addition to this came a twice yearly fee of Fr.600 per teacher for two further education seminars.

The school experiments began in the cantons of BE, SZ, SO, BS, AR and TG with the so-called Langschuljahr (the last term before the summer holidays) in April 1988, in the other cantons after the summer holidays. After one year a further four classes of the canton BL began participating in the school trials as well as a further class of each of the cantons of SH and BE. The canton of BS withdrew three classes, they had not been chosen according to our concept and could not be taken into scientific consideration. All together 50 classes were now participating at all levels of elementary schools. 10 classes had begun in the first or second year of school, 10 classes with the third or fourth year, 9 classes with the fifth or sixth year. 10 classes of the canton of VD began in the sixth year, 6 were secondary and five were Gesamtschule (more than one school year in the same class). At one of the classes at elementary school levels, two female teachers taught as a team. For each trial class a class of similar standing but without extended music education was used for control.

Specific training seminars

To participate in the experiments, the teachers in the experimental and control classes had to be good teachers, the teachers in the trial classes had to be able to sing, to enjoy singing and to be able to master an instrument. They participated twice yearly in a further education seminar for the duration of one week at a time, once during the holidays and once during school term. These seminars formed a very important part of the school trials: they gave the teaching personnel knowledge, ability, suggestions and stimuli for their lessons, without undermining the normal cantonal curriculum. In addition they formed a place of meeting and exchange of information surpassing the barriers of regions and language. A cordial atmosphere always reigned supreme; all were enthused with the cause of music.

The seminars were a welcome opportunity for the cantons to have their teaching personnel trained to become competent course leaders. First class speakers had been engaged so that the participants gained a significant level of education after the eight weeks of seminars. These seminars were always held in two languages and thus contributed to the overcoming of the language barriers: each spoke his own language - German or French. IASEM hosted the first seminar of this kind, held in Sornetan in the Jura of Bern in November 1987, the second brought the participants to Hungary in May 1988 where school classes with extended music tuition are institutionalised, the third took place in Hitzkirch in October 1988, the fourth was held in Gwatt in May 1989. Hofwil, near Bern, followed in July 1989 and Evian in March 1990. The seventh IASEM financed seminar gave the teaching personnel in the trial classes the choice to visit the international course in Salzburg, the Forum for Music and Movement at Lenk or another music course at home or abroad. The last IASEM seminar week took place in Morschach in May 1991.

Meetings and even communal performances were held between different cantonal groups. For example the Solothurn classes met in the canton's capital, sang, made music and danced together in the teacher's seminar and paraded through town after lunch and delighted the inhabitants with their performances. All the Lucern classes created a production together on the subject of animals which they also performed at the further education seminars in Morschach. The exchange or mutual visit of classes across the language barrier was especially delightful. Thus classes from Kreuzlingen and Pully (which already knew each other) met at a third trial class in Burgdorf.

The teaching of music was not at all uniform across the trial classes as the cantonal teaching curriculum stayed intact and IASEM had no supervisory role. Didactic help was offered at the seminars, but the teachers of the trial classes were free to construct their lessons within the framework of their cantonal curriculum. Additionally, circumstances varied of course according to their ability, their interests and their local possibilities. It was however important that tuition was not to be biased - e.g. towards the teaching only of pop music or singing with the guitar.

Throughout the whole of the trials IASEM was in constant direct contact with the participating teaching personnel. Correspondence was mostly concerning the further education seminars. After completion of the trials, teachers were informed on a half yearly basis concerning the progression of scientific evaluation, concerning foreign models and the WHAT NOW (WIE WEITER) in Switzerland.

Scientific guidance for the project was provided with the assistance of the Swiss National Fund through a team at the pedagogical institute at Freiburg University under the leadership of Dr Jean-Luc Patry and Ernst Weber. Other members were primarily Gertrud Lauper and Maria Spychiger as well as Eva Zimmermann.


An old theory

The aforementioned suppositions were used as the basis for the work hypothesis. But as scientific research requires theory based on experience which is then explored, relevant theories were looked for.

It became evident that the idea of music having external influences - not only immediate but lasting influences - wasn't new; we can follow its path way back into history. However, there were many beginnings which, each on its own, fell short of the total and had to be used in combination. It becomes obvious that, in all probability right from the start, music was relevant to behaviour outside its own barrier, especially social behaviour, emotions and transcendence. This is clearly shown by examples from ancient China, Greece of antiquity but also in the occidental thinking during the middle ages and modern times.

Since then a multitude of concepts and ideas have been developed and some have even been realised; it is impossible even to begin to describe them. Music has always been regarded as important throughout reformation movements, has been used for manipulation, for example for political means during the period of national socialism and in the former GDR. The examples illustrate how the concept of music being educational on a social level can not only be used in a positive sense but can also - in conjunction with ideology of any kind -be misused for reasons of power.

There are a number of models linking the development of a more positive personality with music education. First and foremost is the neuro-biological approach, mainly the theories for lateralisation of the human brain. These theories state that subject knowledge, logical and grammatical contents (these being the normal educational requirements) are mainly processed in the left hemisphere. Structures, colours, shapes and music mainly in the right hemisphere of the brain. However, as music is also partly processed in the left hemisphere (reading of music, Rhythm), positive effects are expected because both parts of the brain are not only used similarly, but also because they have to communicate with each other better, which causes a levelling of balance in the brain activity. Thus the base for an overall harmonisation of personality is created.

To establish a global comparison in a psychological sense, Thorndike's theory of transfer (Theory of identical elements) is often quoted, to establish the reasons as to why abilities acquired in music lessons are transferred into external non- musical areas.

This last estimate is implicitly based on the specific notions of correlation, which are postulated in Hungary regarding the Kodaly method and the elementary schools. In this a whole range of abilities (e.g. memory and capacity to concentrate) and capabilities are enumerated, which are acquired by the child during music lessons and which are required in other school subjects and situations. Effects on mathematical abilities are to be expected, as the child has to divide as well as add throughout rhythm exercises; training of hearing facilitates the acquisition of foreign language skills; rendering more sensitive to the varying types and colours of sound is comparable with those in the visual area and will positively influence capabilities in areas such as drawing etc..

A theory of our own

This notion of correlation regarding music tuition and personal development shows that the theoretical foundations are unsound. It is therefore not surprising that the empirical verification of this thesis has until now not shown any clear results. Earlier research could not prove this thesis; apparently there were no negative side-effects. In this case a study might be interesting which did not research effects of music tuition, but followed the question as to whether children which missed lessons for the purpose of visiting instrumental lessons experienced a loss of performance in the effected subjects. The result was clear: children of a similar IQ did not perform worse than their male and female school friends who had not missed lessons. Research into the effects on creativity is positive, but, however, not generally scientifically accepted because of the problematic requirements to establish facts. There is even less research regarding effects in the socio-emotional area, but at least there are indications to an ability to build a better community.

That is the reason for the need for research to develop further the theoretical notion of correlation and to search for "effective mechanisms". The scientific team has tried to accompany research by trying to develop such ideas and to find effective mechanisms which might be able to explain the connection between musical activities and positive personality development. The results could and should be explored and tested during further research (see diagram 1).

We can assume that the cognitive stimulation and enhancement is of a high level in (increased) musical tuition; for example musical tuition can hardly be called a "dry and boring" subject, but is - even from a practical viewpoint - always a challenge to the students' cognitive abilities: forever confronted with new things which have to be built into the structure of thought, thought structures have to be constantly updated and adjusted. One can estimate they gain the ability to deal with material which can not immediately be assimilated. This would mean accordingly that they are able to learn more easily (ability to learn) and are capable of storing the information better (control of subjects, competence).

Diagram 1 Hypothetical correlation sample of increased musical tuition and positive development of personality.

The social climate or the climate of lessons in music tuition is apparently marked by co-operation whereas in other subjects a climate of competition is encouraged. Only when all students - even outsiders - work together is it possible to realise a musical performance (song, an instrumental piece, or a stage show). A different social climate from that required during other subject lessons is needed for this. Through this the students learn that co-operation is a worthwhile value and means to an end which, when required, can be facilitated for other goals. This altered sensitivity can therefore be influential on situations other than the music lessons.

Furthermore, the influences of the ability to create groups during combined production of music has to be mentioned. A united identity can be created partly with its own unifying symbols ("our song") which strengthens the group feeling even further. This showed itself in the trial classes by spontaneous singing for example during break times or on excursions. Finally the ability of creating a group feeling during mutual activities has to be mentioned, for example a musical performance (and the transport to and from the venue). Another factor can be the attention given to the performers by the public (a mention in the newspaper or an important rôle in the community) including the concerted efforts to rebut criticism from the outside, for example by jealous people, as has been observed in certain cases.

When the circumstances are right, musical praxis, whether at school or at home, can have a positive effect on the emotional world of the music maker as well as the listener. Music can be exciting, stimulating, relaxing and so on. Experiences in everyday life, as well as in music psychology, show that music can influence one's mood very strongly, indeed one can use music directly to counter depression and sadness. It became evident that pupils attending the trial classes, by their own admission, sometimes practised outside the normal school hours.

Rehearsing their own performance as well as hearing music encourages the students to give an aesthetic evaluation ("that doesn't sound good", they said spontaneously), be it of their own performance or the performance of another pupil. Thus they became more sensitive to these values.

Finally they undergo a stimulation of motor movements during the (extended) music lessons in more than one way, beginning with teaching about how to breathe, across subjects such as fine motor movements during the instrumental lessons to the more general motor movements of dancing. Above all, apart from teaching the control of certain muscle groups (instrumental lessons), they learn to co-ordinate differing motor activities and to harmonise movement. The relevant abilities can, there again, be expressed outside the music lesson.

The different areas or characteristics have been primarily divided here for reasons of expression and research. In reality there are connections between all of these areas of music tuition which have been stated here. For example it can be assumed that in the point of "social climate" as well as in the point of "music-aesthetic stimulation" variables such as tolerance can be of importance. Also one can not separate the influences of these points on the personal characteristics during lessons. However, the hypothetical connections are compatible with the experiences of the project.

Furthermore we assume that these points are more obviously pronounced during extended music lessons, whereas they may be less noticeable in a regular music tuition (with one or two lessons per week). For example, in regular music instruction not all students may acquire the skill of playing even one musical instrument, and it is not so easily possible to create music alone.


There was no previous music-pedagogical research which could be utilised, not just from a theoretical viewpoint, but also as far as measurement techniques were concerned. Therefore, these had to be taken from other areas or specially developed.

At the beginning of the research, in the autumn of 1989, at the end of the school year 1989/90 as well as in May/June 1991, comparative measurements were taken in the test classes as well as in the corresponding control classes. The last measurement was undertaken in May/June 1991. It is important to note the performance in the reduced subjects, intelligence, ability to express, creativity, control and group behaviour. Further measurements were applicable in some cases.

Differentiations were made into two age groups, a lower group (first grade to third grade at beginning of research) and a medium and higher group (fourth grade and higher at beginning of research). In each case the same measurements of two variants, being one for the lower groups and one for the medium and higher groups, were taken. Data was collected by members of the team as well as researchers, mostly students of psychology. Some measurements were taken by the teaching personnel themselves.

The instruments for collecting the relevant and interesting personal characteristics had been established at the beginning. In time further requirements and the necessity to create additional variables became obvious. There were a number of causes for this: the increased participation of new members of staff, the concept's ongoing differentiation as it was only a rudimentary theory, experiences in discussion with the teaching personnel, our own observations during lessons and the result of examinations. The introduction of qualitative measurements in the second part of the school trials managed to fill some information gaps, and it enabled us to catch up on the deficit of theoretical preparation previously encountered.


Versatile music tuition

To create a picture of the music tuition in the trial classes, we asked the teachers to fill in a questionnaire. Here are some of the results: the activities and contents of the music lesson concern not only the entire scope of the curriculum but much more, even some more unusual activities such as building and playing some non-European instruments, the acquisition and production of unusual rhythm pieces and so on. It is remarkable how varied the contents of music tuition can be when enough time is available.

The chorale is equally rich in goals to be pursued. Very often the motivation and enjoyment of singing and the creation of music were named in a global way, specifically like "to express oneself with music", "to be able to experience music". Additionally the acquisition of musical competence in theoretical and practical areas was often named, and many teachers pointed out that they would like - with the help of music - to create a contribution to the development of personality in a group as well as in a private sense: creating of music as a group, as a training for unified existence, group experiences, tolerance of differing music as well as increase in self assurance through solo performance, creation of opportunities for relaxation and calming down through music, blossoming of personal creativity and so on. These examples are only a small part of the whole catalogue of statements. The development of personality was the teacher's declared goal. The main focus on singing and making music was according to expectations: during these measurements the deviation from the average was, in part, considerable. The percentage of singing was from 30 to 50%, the percentage of making music was from 15 to 30%. Dance and movement are from 10 to 20%.

The research into social patterns shows distinct advantages for the different areas. Of course, classroom education stands in the foreground in four out of five areas, only in the teaching of music does group teaching dominate.

We had other sources of information in addition to the information gained from the questionnaires about music teaching: video and tape recordings, school visits, visits to concerts, reports in the press, from parents and others. More often than not this was with regard to events and productions in which large sums had been invested and which were, therefore, trustworthy results. It is noteworthy that in the framework of the music lessons in this school research in many instances extraordinary results have been produced, concerning the musical performance as well as the emotional aura. In certain classes performances both of a small as well as of a large scale had been presented with such apparent ease as to let the audience forget the hard work behind the scenes and just enjoy the performance.

The classroom climate

The pupils were given the questionnaire "Living together in school" to fill in. Each on their own, they had to answer, on a scale from one to five, how true each statement was according to their opinion concerning circumstances in the classroom with each subject.

The comparison between the two subjects of Music and German (taken over the three measurement dates) shows that the pupils in both the test and control classes in both subjects indeed perceive the climate of teaching in certain dimensions differently. The exception mentioned above, namely that music is a subject with less competition, is corroborated: the statements show that competition is regarded as significantly lower than in the subject of German (see diagram 2). Interestingly it also shows that a significantly higher amount of discipline is required for music lessons than it is in German. These results can not be credited to the extended music lessons as no difference was found between the test and control classes.

Diagram 3 Results of two dimensions of the survey of the teaching climate over three time measurements, divided into German and Music

This poses the following question: does the climate improve eventually, but only in music lessons, and indeed to the detriment of the other subjects? Based on the results the question must surely not be answered with a generalised "yes" as this phenomenon is only noted in the areas of co-operation and intelligibility and as there are indeed opposite trends in other areas. For example, the results show that team spirit rises in the test classes during German as well as in the music lessons. The results show, in any case, that an empirical test does not provide simple answers to the question of climate in the classroom in music lessons and that the supposition that positive development in music lessons will automatically influence other subjects has to be treated with care.

Social relationships

The teaching climate is only with regards to the teaching situations, but social relationships within the class also exist outside the lessons. The inter-personal relationships, the inner fabric of the group, can be measured clearly and objectively by use of a sociogram. This enables us to perceive the informal order, the position and role of each individual and the dynamic of the group. The measurements were taken by questionnaire: each pupil had to state which classmate was their most and least favourite contact. In addition they had to indicate on a sliding scale how likeable they estimated each pupil to be.

Diagram 4 Sociogram of a test class at the first measurement time (early summer 1989 )

The diagram 4 shows an example. Each circle stands for one person in the class, the higher they are, the more "sympathy points" they had received from others. The arrows represented the voting, meaning the answers to the questions concerning the most and least liked members of the group. Solid arrows stand for positive votes, dotted ones for negative votes. This sociogram shows the picture of a class in which the larger proportion of children are bound into a positive framework, whereas two children are rejected, one girl particularly strongly and one boy to a lesser extent.

The comparison of these sociograms of this class over a period of three time measurements shows that both the outsiders were in time integrated into the body of the class. In the end the difference between the likes and dislikes is not great any more, and that they are all in the positive area.

Diagram 5 Sociogram of the same test class at the second and third time measurement (early summer 1990 and 1991 )

The development of congeniality was particularly more pronounced in the test classes than in the control classes, a possible result of the extended music lessons. The fact that the test classes have shown a markedly more positive result at the first measurement time than the control classes is striking. Is it possible that test classes had greater advantages at the beginning of the test? The measurement was taken for the first time after the tests had been in operation a while. It is therefore possible that the differences at the first time point are already attributable to the unifying influence of the extended music lessons. The question as to the influence of the extended music lessons on the structure of the class cannot be answered unambiguously but there are strong indicators as to positive aspects.

Locus of Control

The term "control" describes the extent to which a person is convinced that they are able to influence the happening or non- happening of an event. Because of the positive social climate, we estimate, pupils in the extended music lessons have many possibilities actively to influence their fellow pupils - be it that they think themselves more capable, be it that their fellow pupils co-operate better.

The results show no difference at the lower levels between test and control classes. In the middle and higher grades the test results in certain fields between test and control classes were significantly better. As we are looking at control in social situations, the results fit in well with the positive results the test classes achieved in the social area, as the sociographic analysis has shown and as it became - particularly often - evident through the teachers' reports. This can not, with certainty, be attributed to the extended music lessons, as the test classes were at a higher level from the beginning.

The area of subject matter

The "factual area" includes all aspects of personality, which are, in the widest sense, connected with cognitive achievements. It is, of course, desirable to achieve improvements in the said areas, providing that the other areas are not impaired.

To eliminate the differences in intelligence as reasons for differences in results of test and control classes, a speech- free intelligence test was used. This examination across the board also allowed us to verify the truth in the literary saying or, at least, commonly maintained opinion that music is a means to encourage intelligence. The results show that there are no differences between test and control classes. The achievements rose by a few points over a period of three years, which is normal development. The slight difference between test and control classes remained.

We have also tested whether differences between boys and girls exist. Interviews with the teaching personnel show that there is a difference in certain areas with regard to the fact that the girls responded better to the extended music lessons and were able to profit more than the boys. We have, therefore, tested whether, over time, differences in the development of intelligence exist between girls and boys. This, however, was not the case. The result of the measurement of intelligence is as follows: extended music lessons do not make the pupil more intelligent, nor does it make them any less intelligent!

The Hungarian grade schools report that the pupil's eloquence increases. Eloquence is here understood as a cognitive competence, and for this we chose the form of a précis. The pupils were told a story, which they had to re-tell. In the lower grades this took the form of drawings (four pictures), whereas in the higher grades it had to be in the form of writing (verbal). Thus the test included eloquence in the widest sense, including perception and short term memory.

The following criteria were established: the accuracy of the précis according to chronological events in the story, the accuracy of facts, representation of emotional contents, accuracy of details as well as the care that was taken and the creativity used in the précis.

Over the three time measurements taken overall in the middle and higher grades no difference could be found between the test and control classes. The test classes showed significant improvements in the areas of "factual contents" and "execution" than the control classes. It is especially worthwhile mentioning that the differences were not present at the second but were present at the third test date. If the result should be connected to the extended music lessons, it would mean that a lot of time would be required to establish that this kind of tuition has an effect on eloquence (here: the complete re-telling of the contents of a story as well as the construction of the précis).

The lower grades show a slightly clearer result: the overall value for the test classes in contrast to the control classes has improved significantly. However, on the level of certain fields this only applies to "chronology" and - in the case of the middle and higher grades - "factual contents".

If the results are matched by test and appropriate control classes for comparison, certain differences show. Averaged over all the time measurement points, no test class fares better than their corresponding control classes but, interestingly, the control classes are, overall, better at the time of the second test than the test classes. This confirms that the music lessons have to be extended over a long period in order, eventually, to cause an increase in eloquence.

"Creativity" covers two main dimensions: creative thinking and creative production. Creative acts find unusual solutions and many faceted but often unexpected correct results. These don't only show the signs of being "new" and "original" but are also marked by their appropriate and useful nature.

At the beginning and the end of the trial period we gave unfinished drawings to a number of classes and the children then had to say what the pictures would show when completed. The results showed no definite difference in creativity in the music classes. The test classes showed a higher average concerning originality, but this difference was not significant. The same statement can be made with regards to production: the result of the pupils in the test classes is better, but this does not reach a level of significance. One can, at best, speak of a tendency to increase creativity but the effects are minor.

In other selected classes one test was conducted at only one time measurement point, in which the pupils had to complete the started drawings. We devised a more differentiated experimental method, in which the possible effects of the music lesson, with regards to the emotional vulnerability and the inner and outer stress factors, were included.

Here, too, there is no difference in results with regards to creativity between test and control classes but some remarkable side-effects have occurred: the pupils of the test as well as the control classes felt much better after a music lesson than after a dictation: they regarded themselves as physically more relaxed, calmer, happier and better than their fellow pupils following a dictation. Additionally, they felt less under pressure with regards to time. The children in the test classes felt significantly more unwell under the influence of noise (external stress) than the children in the control classes: on the other hand, they were able to handle performance pressure (internal stress) better than the pupils in the control classes.

Obviously, the increased music tuition does neither exert an evident short-term nor a long-term influence on the creativity performance measured in these tests. It appears, however, that the extended music tuition can influence sensitivity to the effects of noise and the well-being under circumstances of time and performance pressure. If the school of tomorrow would produce an aurally more sensitive generation, it would have implications which cannot yet be estimated; a refinement in the communicative areas would certainly be linked to this. The second result, too, a heightened resistance to internal stress factors, has great value on the level of health. The increased occupation with music is surely a meaningful and pleasant way to increase the state of well-being significantly.

The subject performance in the main subjects, whose number of lessons had been reduced, has been measured in class- and subject-specific tests. The comparison between classes show that, taken over a period of time, the results between test and control classes of the same level do not, as a rule, differ. Globally, seen across all the classes, the test classes fared slightly better than the control classes. In this the advantages of the test classes in mathematics and German are quite small and the advantages for French are hardly noticeable.

It was evident right from the start that the verification of the school performance outside the music lessons was a delicate point as this was the most vital point to the success of the model's school trials. In addition, qualitative judgement should be produced, based on the comments of the teaching personnel who had participated in the trials.

The matter of subject performance became topical whenever there were end of year exams for change into a higher grade. We knew of no class which has encountered problems in this matter but it has to be said that teachers had decreased the time spent on the extended music lessons by one hour in the face of these end of year exams. The change-over rates were high in many classes and, according to the teaching personnel, was exactly in line with their expectations.

It became evident in the course of the trial period that the project "Extended music lessons at the cost of main subject lessons" was easier to carry out in primary schools than it was in secondary schools, with their system of specialist teachers.

Positive reports about the acquisition of reading skills abound in the lower grade. Other grades, too, often report ease of learning and good development with regards to speech in the music classes. These observations coincide with other results of research for connections between music and language, which suggest that people with a better hearing ability are not only capable to hear sounds and sound-structures better but are also able to reproduce them better.

Letters from pupils to the scientific team

Additional data with regards to the experiences of the school tests was collected during the second trial year: in asking the pupils to write letters to the scientific team, we hoped to gain more direct and therefore more qualitative information about their experiences in school. It was clear to us that the previous form of gaining qualitative information, namely the questionnaires, had already pushed their willingness to the limit. It was, therefore, high time to show ourselves from a different angle (indeed, many wrote to us in the end that they had had enough of ticking answers).

The students of the music classes made more statements with regards to music, it had a higher presence in their conscience. They also wrote more, on average. We don't interpret this, however, as their having more to say, but think instead that they were in a friendlier frame of mind towards the scientific team than their counterparts in the control classes. The valuation of each area, between test and control classes only varies in certain areas, for example in the lower grades with regards to the area "class" in which the trial classes on average report positively. If one, however, differentiates between the music considerations and the general, the effect which we had expected takes place: the considerations of pupils of the music classes are more positively coloured than those of the control classes. Surely the latter is a very important result of this research, it permits the conclusion that music plays an important part for the pupils of the trial classes, and this probably means that they liked their extended music lessons! This also coincides with the results of a questionnaire with regards to their viewpoint on music, whereby the pupils of the trial classes documented a more positive attitude to music than the pupils of the control classes, which can be assumed to be caused by the extended music classes.

A few developments

The description of the development in six chosen classes, the development of two children and the in-depth analysis of two interviews have been foregone here, for reasons of space. They are described in detail in the book `Music creates school'. However, we didn't want to deprive the reader of some of the highlights of everyday school life:

Circus. Teacher Nielsen reports: We had a project week at school when the circus was here. Some circus artists worked with the children; they could learn to juggle, to balance on a tight rope and to do acrobatics. Great fun for the children! And to do all this with professionals, not with the teachers, tremendous! Unfortunately it was the case that we have too many pupils, meaning that only nine pupils out of every class could participate. I felt sorry for the children, I really would have liked to have sent them all so that all of them could have had a go! I felt so sorry that not all of them could participate so I listened around in the teachers room to try and find out how one might choose the nine pupils. The general tenor was: I'll make it simple - I'll draw lots then I'm out of it. Unfortunately, I could not think of a better idea, either. I prepared a little box with nine lots in it, three for acrobatics, three for juggling and so on.

Then we all sat in a circle and I explained the procedure, that really felt unfair but I could not think of a better way. Then these pupils of the third grade said: `We don't want to draw lots, we want to discuss this out'. We discussed it... and suggestions came, `who can do this and who is not so good in doing that, but couldn't we give this one a chance...' this was the general tone of the discussion. The result, surely painful to some as they were not allowed to go; a child came forward and said, `We, the rest of us, will create the circus orchestra!' So in the end nobody had the feeling `I didn't get my turn' It is amazing what can happen when you try hard enough! "

Pizzicato. A pretty little anecdote is of a musical kind: A teacher tells the story of a tone deaf boy in his class. For months this one had put the singing in class under a lot of strain, until one day he was discovered - "He's got him, he's got him now!" A while later a group of professional musicians gave a performance in school and the boy amazed not only his teacher but also the double bass player - he asked after a rendition of the Trout Quintet: "Why didn't you play the fifth variation in pizzicato?"


The results of the scientific appraisal can be summed up in the following way:

1. Subject competence: No negative effects have been noted in the test classes, even though main subject lessons had been reduced by 20 to 25%. Eloquence was improved in certain areas, in comparing with the control classes. There were good developments in the area of speech.

2. Social area: The results are particularly clear. The social climate improved in all classes, but the improvement was more obvious in certain areas in the test classes, more so than in the control classes. The group co-operation (sociogram) improved more in the test classes. In contrast to this, only a minor influence on control can be claimed for the extended music lessons.

3. Motivation: Specially strong gains for the test classes, in contrast to the control classes, can be shown here. These are apparent in two areas: school is seen as more positive, especially with regards to the music lessons; in addition a general increase of the appreciation of music becomes apparent, outside the lessons.

All reports taken over the whole of the period show that the extended music lessons require time to unfold its full capacity. The results mentioned above were still hardly noticeable, after a period of one to one-and-a-half years. In some cases matters regressed. Losses were, however compensated as the trials progressed - and in some cases even turned into gains.

The thesis of the educational value of musical tuition was proven, if not as spectacularly as could have been expected according to earlier, mostly speculative, models.


The parents of the pupils in the music classes formed an important group in the school trials. Parents had been informed in all cases before a music class was started up. In most cases parents could, by use of a `negative option', refuse the participation of their children in the school trials with extended music lessons. Only a small percentage of parents made use of this.

Overall, the parents expressed an amazing amount of interest in and goodwill towards the tests.

The press had been informed right from the start about the school trials, and they took active interest in this new development in the Swiss school system. TV and radio also reported on it.

The teacher's job satisfaction has not been deeply explored in systematic research but the evident information shows an undoubted increase in engagement and satisfaction in the job. These positive side-effects in our school trials gain an extra importance from the viewpoint of the much noted and explored `Burnout-Syndrome', which is comparatively rife in the teaching profession.

The extended music lessons in the school trials gave the teachers the chance to use their full capacity in a subject in which they are especially competent and motivated. The accompanying opportunities such as further education courses, public performances, parent information and so on must have been stimulating and must have helped to increase their self-esteem. Such activities and events are excellent means to avoid the burn- out syndrome, and it is surely not accidental that the teaching personnel which has been longest in the profession gained more job satisfaction and relate their relevant positive experiences in the school trials most avidly. As the reason behind these school trials is "Better school for tomorrow", one can be very pleased to find that school is not only "better" for pupils, but also more pleasurable and less demanding for the teaching personnel. We cannot afford burnt-out teachers, and what's more, they don't deserve to be thrown into the fire.

Nearly twenty years ago, in the Muri secondary school a singing class was created - 26 pupils were the "guinea pigs" in the second pilot project by Ernst Weber, which took place in 1974- 1979. The scientific team met some of those pupils - now nearly 30 years of age - for a conversation. We discussed mainly the question as to whether - in retrospect - they thought their music lesson a good thing, if and how it influenced their choice of profession, their further development and their current relation to music.

All had enjoyed the singing class and found it a good thing, but not all think that the extended music classes had been influential in their choice of career or further development (many of them, however, work with the arts, for example became teachers in that area). There is a horse breeder, who says that music "is of great importance" to her, and who treasures the thought of knowing and loving many styles. Or the doctor who "has gained enjoyment in the strict classical music" and who cares passionately for his hobby of opera and listening to medieval songs. Or the much travelled EDA secretary who thinks that "music was encouraged in singing class, but the benefit only shows itself at a later stage". She began playing the concert flute two years ago.

They said that they had a good co-operation as a class and had good relations with each other. Without the chairman asking about this, the group puts that fact down to singing and music: "It has increased our willingness to converse with each other, it has opened us up. We have met each other openly and had a super class understanding until we left school. After that we let each other go, each to his or her own way without sticking to each other". Even the chairman, as an outsider, noticed how quickly the group started a lively and real conversation. Would it have been possible to extend another subject other than music? All participants agree on this point: It must be music. They are of the opinion that singing and music making contain special elements, which "are extremely important, for example the physical area which is contained in dancing, the social interaction which provokes singing and music making in union and the sensuous element", and that music is especially suited to accommodate other areas such as theatre for example - whereas it would have been much more difficult the other way around - "music is much more encompassing".


School policy effects

It was a major decision - in the circumstances of Swiss schools - to undertake a project crossing all language and cantonal barriers. The initiator's strategy has paid off: they have recognised the school's authority in the cantons, and have permitted the people responsible to create the basis for their school project in their own cantons (for example selection of the test classes, parent information, curriculum and so on). This system had already been proven to be very successful during the trial phase, as the people responsible normally try to achieve the best for their own schools; and it fully pays off now after the end of the school trials: each canton now has continued to develop their own models of "better chances for music tuition in school" or is in the process of setting them up.

The idea to extend music lessons has already got quite a tradition and is far more established in other places then it is here. The reduction of main subjects for the sake of the music tuition is, however, unique. The additional lessons have, in previous trials and current tests, always been undertaken alongside the normal curriculum. The initiators of this trial had two reasons for their extraordinary decision. The first was the conviction that even with extended music lessons no loss would be suffered by the main subject lessons which had been reduced in hours of teaching. The second reason was pragmatic: no additional costs were incurred as no additional lessons were required and the pupils were not put under any extra strain.

The teachers in the primary classes, in which they taught most subjects, however, had to make an effort exceeding the norm. That they accepted this extra workload is admirable. To reduce the number of lessons and at the same time to adhere to the normal curriculum has highly encouraged and tested the didactic creativity and pedagogical competence of the teaching personnel. The lessons which were to be reduced were scrimped and saved on wherever possible and the new procedure had to be thought through. The teaching personnel, in constructing the new concept, especially exploited the possibility of combining subjects. Everything could be combined with music and thus the "missing hours" could be brought into the subject and practised. It was only partly possible to use such solutions in secondary schools.

The extended music lessons encouraged the teaching personnel to proceed in a new way on a social level as well. As already suggested, the school trials were also undertaken in two French speaking cantons. There the scientific research was totally independent from the one stated here, and provides a welcome addition. In so far as comparative values were measured, the results on either side of the language barriers do not contradict each other, even when completely different methods of measurement were used. The overall conclusions are positive, from the viewpoint of the teaching personnel as well as the pupils and parents.

A look over the borders

Music lessons in main stream schools in Austria have already been institutionalised and were taken into the normal run of a school in 1976/77. Music became a core subject in these schools. The feedback from the parents was, without exception, positive and caused a rapid spread of this kind of schooling: there were already 71 music secondary schools in 1990/91 in Austria with over 500 classes. The timetable demands 6 hours of music per week, one to two of which had to be for instrument teaching. The weekly number of lessons for music is three times higher than in ordinary secondary schools. As a rule, the Austrian schools are very performance oriented: main subjects are taught in three streams.

The comparison with Switzerland is interesting: the first school trials (1972/73 in Muri) had already been completed a year earlier. But now, twenty years on, we are still not as far progressed as the Austrians were in 1976. Whereas the Swiss model is neutral in cost, the Austrian model had incurred many more teaching hours.

Germany too, namely Bavaria, has a number of schools with a focus on music. Unfortunately there too, as in Austria, scientific evaluation is missing. A new school trial has begun in Berlin in 1992 under the leadership of the University of Paderborn.


It is a pleasing result that, even though the number of lessons in the main subjects was reduced, no less and, in certain cases, more work was achieved. This gains a special meaning through the fact that the children have a higher competence in singing, music making, dancing, listening, noting and assessing of music and the fact that they know instruments, forms, styles and substantial parts of music's history. The ability to think in abstract terms was gained through the understanding of different concurrent events such as the singing of Chorales or in the making of music and dancing. They have learned a new system of symbols, the musical one, from the basics.

Their voices have been schooled through singing: they have learnt to be heard. In addition they have, through the making of music in unison, learnt to work together and to listen to each other; to heighten their tolerance and understanding for fellow man, their social competence has been increased. The children have acquired all this knowledge and ability in addition to their normal skills. They have also learnt equal amounts in the general school lessons as their colleagues in normal classes.

This knowledge is of primary concern at the educational level of elementary schools: the gaining of musical competence without the detrimental effect on the normal subjects - which are so important in later life - can be an important addition to a meaningful leisure activity for the children even into adulthood. The gain in the area of social competence cannot be valued highly enough. One must remember, in this context, the ability to work as a team, tolerance and co-operation, which is in demand throughout the working life. That is why all pupils of an elementary school have a right to a good music education, which is not only a facultative addition but is as important as their mother tongue, mathematics and PE.

In certain cantons music/singing in grade schools is not on the timetable or, at best, for no more than two lessons per week at all levels. Resistance to this was in many places only minimal, as there are often difficulties in this subject and because there are too few qualified teaching personnel available. These pragmatic reasons prevent a basic discussion. Cutting back is no solution to the problems which have been mentioned, it increases them in fact: firstly it constitutes a devaluation of the subject in the eyes of the pupils, the teachers and the public. Secondly, it is not possible to reach an adequate result in one hour per week. Thirdly, difficulties in discipline arise for these very reasons and the teaching personnel are less willing to confront them.

If this vicious circle is to be broken, a strict upgrading of this subject is indispensable, on three grounds: firstly, the subject of singing/music has to be better recognised, two hours must be permitted per week at all levels. Secondly, the musical education of teaching personnel has to be drastically improved. Thirdly, candidates should only be admitted to teacher training colleges for elementary school teachers if they are able to show their ability to sing and play an instrument, especially when the teacher training begins in adulthood, as it is otherwise not possible to gain sufficient musical competence for the task ahead.

To that end a real and lasting integration of music into the educational system is highly desirable. This takes, however, a major effort. The question arises is it not possible to create an institution "Youth and music" analogous to "Youth and sport", which could encourage group singing, music making as well as dancing by children, as a contribution to mental health and as a contribution to the dialogue across the language boundaries. A school in which singing and music making happens every day. A school that makes music. This preoccupation existed as the precept to the extensive school trials with extended music lessons, in which the pupils received more music tuition and less main subject lessons. Based on the many-faceted experiences with these classes, we can say today: Music makes school, or at least it can create a school, change it, make it more humane. A better social climate was created and the pupils of these schools enjoyed attending. Even a reduction in the number of main subject lessons did not cause a drop in performance at school.

Music created school in other areas as well: music took a new dimension in the life of the pupils. Music is no longer just one of the consumer goods; they have come close to it and have an idea how to produce it. They know elements and symbols, are able to handle and use them, to create music of their own. Music has a fixed place in their lives, which can not be replaced through anything else.

It is only to be hoped that music will create school in a third sense. Even though, today, it is very widespread indeed, and has great meaning to many people, it still exists as a little wallflower in the educational system. Now it has been shown that school would lack something very important without music. We only wish that music in schools gains in importance in the future, that her ability to develop the personality is recognised and acknowledged, that music makes school whole. This paper shall be a contribution towards this.

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