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ISME Website History Standing Committee IHME Homepage ARGENTINA - Historical Overview     An Historical Overview of Music Education in Argentina  By Alicia C. de Couve, Claudia Dal Pino and Alan Gazzano Edited by Robin Stevens  INTRODUCTION  The early 1800s in what is now Argentina saw the beginning of a long revolutionary process that culminated in the declaration of independence from Spain on 9 July 1816. The Argentine Republic consolidated itself as a nation during the second half of that century by addressing both internal and external conflicts, promulgating its Constitution in 1853, setting its current territorial boundaries and receiving millions of immigrates who settled in the country. Music education accompanied those changes as it followed its own development in multiple ways.  This article aims to provide a general overview of Argentine music education and for that purpose is divided into three sections named as follows. “The foundational mandate: conquest, evangelisation and conversion” outlines both the highlights of music education between the mid-16th and late-18th centuries and actions held in the regions of Chaco and Patagonia until the early-20th century. Next comes “Music in schools”, spanning from the beginning of the 19th century until today, which summarises the landmarks of music within the national compulsory schooling system. Lastly, “Professional and amateur music training” focuses on specialised education for performers, music teachers and nonprofessional musicians from the 1800s to the 2000s. In responding to gradual changes within the historical processes, not only may the boundaries of each section seem indefinite, but they also overarch various political and ideological perspectives. However, music as practised by the many aboriginal peoples of present-day Argentina prior to the European conquest has not been considered, mainly because accurate data are not available.  First, as background to the Argentine education system, a brief description of its current structural aspects with Spanish names in brackets is provided: •	Early years (nivel inicial) are divided into two stages, i.e. nursery (maternal – catering for children between 45 days and 2 years of age) and kindergarten (jardín de infants – catering for those aged between 3 and 5, the last year being compulsory). •	Primary education (nivel primario) is compulsory and comprises 6 or 7 years, according to provincial laws. •	Secondary education (nivel medio) is also mandatory and 5 or 6 years in duration, depending on provincial laws regulating previous primary education. Schedules and curricula vary according to different specialisations. •	Further education (nivel terciario no universitario) allows specialisation in various fields, either as tecnicaturas (technical colleges) or profesorados (teacher training) as established by law (Ley de Educación Superior). Postgraduate degrees upon completion of this level may be actualizaciones (update courses), diplomaturas and diplomaturas superiores. •	Higher education (nivel universitario) includes upper-level teacher education (profesorados universitarios) and Bachelor’s degree courses (licenciaturas) lasting four years or longer, and may go further on to postgraduate degrees such as especializaciones, maestrías (Masters) and doctorados (PhDs).  A feature of Argentina’s education system is that all the above-mentioned, except for postgraduate degrees, are now available free of charge at multiple state-run institutions across the country.  THE FOUNDATIONAL MANDATE: CONQUEST, EVANGELISM AND CONVERSION  By the time Spain had a presence in the Americas, it had undergone a long political and religious war against Islamic expansion within its borders. The preaching of the Catholic faith and warring against non-Christians in the New World are key to understanding the Iberian presence in the early colonisation of Argentina. Missionaries built churches and schools in order to evangelise the local population—for instance, during the 16th century, Father Nuño Gabriel “composed chants against their vices, so as to prevent them from eating human flesh, painting their bodies or killing” (Furlong, 1957). St Francis Solanus (1549–1610) is often depicted playing the violin for the natives, to whom music performing and singing were taught along with the Catholic beliefs in the present-day provinces of La Rioja, Tucumán, Santiago del Estero and Catamarca; however, there was no accommodation of indigenous art forms.  From 1609 onwards, the Society of Jesus founded sixty-one autonomously-ruled villages (reducciones) where the natives were taught through their own languages. Jesuit priests were active in these missions as was observed by Antonio Sepp (1655–1733) who remarked the skills of certain groups, namely the Guaraní people: “I have observed that these Indians naturally keep regular beat even more accurately than the Europeans” (Szarán & Ruiz Nestosa, 1996). Groups of luthiers were encouraged to imitate the European way of manufacturing instruments, and orchestras and choirs of adults and children were established. Their repertoire included an array of secular and religious themes by composers as Corelli, but also music composed by the missionaries, among which are the works of the Italian harpsichordist Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726), who lived in the province of Córdoba and whose compositions are especially noteworthy. The natives also took part in stage performances combining dancing, singing and instrumental playing, with texts written by missionaries both in Latin and in local languages.  The teaching methods employed ranged from simple imitation to, in some cases, mensural or staff notation, depending both on the teachers’ knowledge and on the indigenous people’s abilities. Vocal and instrumental ensembles were taken to several urban centres to perform during religious and secular celebrations and were renowned for their artistic prowess. However, after the Jesuits were banned and expelled by the Spanish Bourbons in 1767, their educational work collapsed. Other clergymen went on teaching but there is no record of any achievements similar to the ones of the Jesuit Order.  In the main towns, such as Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Salta and Tucumán, music performance and teaching activities were carried out in churches and schools managed by the Church. Chapel masters fulfilled artistic, religious and educational roles in the cathedral of the capital city, their duties requiring them to be skilled in plainchant in order to conduct the singers during services and to teach plainchant lessons to seminary students (Gesualdo, 1961). Besides instrumental performance, chantres or organists taught the local community. It is known that, at Santa Catalina de los Betlemitas hospital and convent in Buenos Aires, a musician was even paid to teach organ to a black slave (Roldán, 1988). In the same city, singing is also mentioned among the subjects taught at the Escuela del Salvador, that had been founded by Jesuits in 1617.  Private schools are also known to have been licensed by each city hall or cabildo to operate in various towns, but there are no accurate records of their teaching of music. Municipalities subsequently organised an education system by establishing schools under their local regulations. Broadly speaking, that situation continued during the 17th and 18th centuries, with musicians arriving constantly from Europe to perform and also teach the more prominent families as instrumental and vocal skills were seen as being indicative  a high culture.  With the consolidation of the Argentine Republic as an independent nation during the second half of the 19th century, the federal authorities undertook to conquer aboriginal land in the regions of Chaco and Patagonia, and effectively expanded state control to its current boundaries. The land where native tribes had settled exceeded the area ruled by European immigrants. In the southern-most region, government expansion followed that of Salesian priests who were led by the Italian St John Bosco (1815–1888). Sporting and arts activities served as a means of socialisation and evangelisation, and instrumental ensembles had a major impact on the natives’ beliefs and costumes.  MUSIC IN SCHOOLS  Apart from music taught by religious institutions, little is known about the role that music played in the so-called escuelas de primeras letras which provided basic literacy teaching either in school classrooms or in private houses from the beginning of the 19th century. However, there are records about pupils of the school managed by Don Rufino Sánchez who sang patriotic repertoire at public celebrations in 1813, including a Patriotic Song (Canción Patriótica) attributed to Esteban de Luca, and La azulada bandera del Plata (The Blue Flag of the River Plate) by Blas Parera (Gesualdo, 1978).  An example of the way that music was taught during this period is found at the Escuela de Pensionadas, which was opened in 1839 in the province of San Juan and where the study of music theory, sol-fa and piano playing was mandatory. Vocal music was also cultivated from around 1850 in several institutions of Buenos Aires financed both privately and by the state, and much the same happened in private schools managed by British, German and Italian communities.  President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888) favoured the idea of compulsory elementary education in order to provide both native and foreign population with knowledge deemed necessary for the country’s development. The Common Education Law approved in 1884 aimed to grant mandatory, free and graded primary education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 (Ley Nº 1420). Religious education could only be provided “before or after the hours of class” (Art. 8) and compulsory subjects were natural sciences, mathematics, national language, national and world geography, morality, civics, national and general history, drawing, gymnastics and music, the latter focusing on singing. Local teachers were required to be competent in Spanish and were trained at institutes called Escuelas Normales from the 1870s. Educators had arrived from the United States specifically to staff these teacher training institutions.  From the repertoire of that time, it may be observed that some works exceeded an octave in range and included intervals that were difficult to pitch correctly. Other elements that proved challenging to the students were not considered important by composers during these early years. An issue of El Monitor de la Educación Común officially published in 1910 by the National Education Council pointed out that out that such challenging aspects needed to be taken into account. In the same publication, listings of recommended books for teachers and, to a lesser extent, repertoire to be played at schools were included.  Unison and polyphonic singing was encouraged, generally accompanied by piano and, more rarely, violin, harmonium or harpsichord. Music notation and theory were taught but it was debated as to their usefulness, as some considered the more technical aspects unnecessary for school children to master. This content was also included in the curricula for training teachers at Escuelas Normales and taught in secondary school education, which was not compulsory at this time.  During the early-20th century, national authorities also encouraged singing through choral competitions that utilised school such as those held at Teatro Colón, one of the most outstanding opera houses in the continent. Such competences for primary school students became more popular during the 1960s and are still active as Noviembres Musicales.  While the school repertoire originally focused on songs with patriotic and moral teachings, other songs related to leisure and recreational pursuits were gradually adopted. Around the 1920s and throughout the 20th century, folk songs, both anonymous and by local authors, were increasingly included in music curricula as well as works by academic composers as Carlos López Buchardo (1881–1948), Carlos Guastavino (1912–2000) and Carlos Suffern (1901–1991) which were inspired in folk themes. Researchers as Carlos Vega (1898–1966), Andrés Chazarreta (1867–1960) and Isabel Aretz (1909–2005) made significant contributions to the development and application of Argentine folk music in compulsory education and universities. Anthologies of folk songs from across the country were in circulation from the 1940s but were most commonly used from the 1960s. The pedagogical publications of Kurt Pahlen and Albert Lavignac also became widespread since the 1940s.  Various European music-teaching methods and repertoire were also edited during the 20th century, namely those by Martenot and Willems, together with adaptations from the 1960s of the Orff method by pedagogues as Guillermo Graetzer and Antonio Yepes. Argentinian pedagogues as Ana Lucía Frega and Violeta de Gainza also published works for music teaching in various levels. Other outstanding pedagogues are Susana Espinosa, Silvia Furnó and Silvia Malbrán. New methods also addressed music notation learning linked to audio perception, an example being Método para leer y escribir música (1978) by María del Carmen Aguilar. Music teacher training courses and conferences organised by institutes such as ADOMU (Asociación de Docentes de Música), established in 1955, have encouraged music education research in the country.  Since the 1950s, traditional sol-fa manuals by Lemoine were replaced by newer versions by Argentines Ernesto Galeano and Oscar Bareilles, such as Solfeo folklórico argentino (1952), which were based upon indigenous musical tunes from all over the country. Instrumental performance and musical appreciation activities were included in the curricula since the 1960s. National authorities did not encourage popular music at school beyond folk songs, as was documented in official repertoire listings. Such situation lasted until democracy was restored under the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín in 1983 when previously banned repertoire and librettos were accepted for classroom use.  A Federal Education Law (Ley Federal de Educación Nº 24.195) introduced in 1993 included kindergarten for 5-year-olds as part of compulsory education, as well as making the first two years of secondary education mandatory. Since then, other artistic activities such as bodily expression and drama have been encouraged, breaking the exclusiveness previously given to music and drawing. Nevertheless, with the expansion of the arts, music was sometimes omitted from the school curriculum for some students. Activities that focused on creativity and performance, as well as on local and Latin-American repertoire, have become more and more accepted in schools. With a new National Education Law (Ley Nacional de Educación Nº 26.206), secondary education became mandatory in 2006 and at least two artistic disciplines were henceforth to be included in compulsory education.  New reforms in secondary education are currently under way. Arts learning is seen as i encouraging social interaction, cultural diversity and promoting of Argentine and Latin-American identity. Bachilleratos (high-schools) specialised in Music and Audiovisual Technologies and tecnicaturas (technical degrees) in Music and Sound Engineering are now involving other disciplines and artistic fields in music education in order to provide graduates with the tools to deal with electronic formats and software devices, and to allow them to take part in stage and multimedia events, compositional and studio recording, sound mixing and broadcasting. Although this new system features remarkable innovations and favours technological upskilling in unprecedented ways, it is currently still at the stage of development. Not only must schools decide which specialised areas will be adopted, but how their application will be implemented. ISME Website History Standing Committee Copyright © 2014 History Standing Committee, International Society for Music Education (ISME) [ Go to Part 2 ] Overview [ Go to Part 2 ] IHME Homepage Overview