Music hits dud note for recruits

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Fear of unruly pupils and memories of boring lessons are deterring music graduates from a career in teaching, a research study has found.

Music is designated as a shortage subject and students deciding to train as teachers can claim incentives of up to pound;7,500.

But almost one in five students, quizzed by a team from University of Surrey, Roehampton and London university's institute of education, said the lack of discipline and pupil apathy was a deterrent. A further 13 per cent were put off by teachers' low pay and long hours.

The survey was part of a larger investigation into effective teaching of secondary-school music, led by professors David Hargreaves and Graham Welch.

The team asked 66 final-year students about their attitudes towards teaching. Although more than half had been involved in teaching instrumental lessons, only two participants saw themselves as secondary music teachers, a further two wanted to work in primary schools.

The main reason for not considering teaching, given by 36 per cent of students, was that they wanted to perform or compose.

But one participant told researchers: "After my experience at secondary school I wouldn't even consider lowering myself to standards that my ex-teacher displayed as a music teacher."

In contrast, another student was prompted into teaching by a poor experience, saying: "I would like to be a head of music because my secondary teacher was so awful. I learnt nothing at all from her.

"My non-musical friends gained no musical knowledge in the first five compulsory years of music lessons and I don't want to ever let that happen."

The Teacher Identities in Music Education (Time) project also followed 74 postgraduate music teachers through their training and 29 through their first teaching post.

Ross Purves, research officer on the Time project, said: "My feeling is that there is a misconception about what is really involved in teaching.

"We discovered that during their first year in the job, all the students had a much more realistic idea and were a lot more comfortable with it. I think the attitudes and comments made by the music undergraduates do appear to be a misconception."

Music students said the people who had most influence on their careers were instrumental teachers, their parents and performers. They also cited taking part in groups such as youth orchestras.

Secondary teachers had relatively little impact on their wish to have a musical career, with only playing in informal groups such as bands or primary school music having less influence.

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