A project of ISME’s History Standing Committee
Guido d’Arezzo
Guidonian Hand
ISME Website History Standing Committee IHME Homepage NIGERIA - Historical Overview    Western music education in Nigeria: a brief historical perspective   by Christian Onyeji  INTRODUCTION  A discussion on Western music education in Nigeria must necessarily take into account the historical time lines that are integral to Nigeria’s history as a nation. Such time lines highlight the major periods that enable clearer perception of the musical activities in Nigeria, which project the periods of Western music cultivation and development. In this regard therefore, a cursory look at the Nigeria’s music history reveals the following periods: 1. Pre-Colonial period; 2. Colonial Period; and 3. Post-Colonial / Post Independence Period. Within these periods could be found other minor time lines that present shades of progression in and out of the periods, revealing levels of musical intensities that could stand on their own with some musical identities. An example could be found in the post colonial period that could be divided into the period from 1960-1990; 1991-2001; 2002-date. These time lines present some forms of musical progression in creative styles, scholarly developments and research, quantitative increase in practitioners’ research output, etc. This short presentation would, on the backdrop of the time lines, highlight the origin of Western music education in Nigeria, the major developments, creative styles, music education institutions, achievements and major practitioners in the field of music in Nigeria.  PRE-COLONIAL PERIOD IN NIGERIAN MUSIC EDUCATION HISTORY   “Information about music in pre-colonial Africa is scanty” (Agawu, 2003: 3). Although information about music in this period is highly speculative, giving the lack of formal records at this time, it is not in doubt that traditional Nigerian societies at this time were music loving people and did engage in serious music making in vocal and instrumental forms. One could imagine that such interest in music provided the enabling ground for the Western music and music education that followed later to flourish. Being a part of the musical landscape of traditional African societies, vocal musical activities in Nigerian communities provided opportunity for various forms of choral music making in “part-singing”. Richard Lander noted while passing through Western and Northern  parts of Nigeria that ‘when heard at a distance, in the midst of solitary woods, the vocal music (of the indigenes) has a pleasing, plaintive effect’” (Lander, 1830: 289). Also various forms of harmonic derivations from vocal and instrumental music formed the backdrop that sustained the level of interest shown to Western choral and instrumental music much later. In Nigeria, “ensemble music and group types of music making constitute one of the most common forms of making music. The composition of each ensemble may vary from three or four drummers to consort players of flutes, drums and trumpets with vocal accompaniments” (Vidal, 2012: 58). Very often such ensembles brought people of diverse musical ability to create and perform music with far reaching melodic, rhythmic and harmonic results and effects. Music making and education were, thus, already entrenched in indigenous Nigerian societies before the advent of Western-style music education.  The apprenticeship system that existed at this time also nurtured and sustained the level of focus by some Christian converts to study organ and piano under some Missionaries at the early stages of their contact. Also deducible from the cultural practices at this time was the existing Master-Apprentice relationship characterized by discipline and respect which later Missionary music teachers enjoyed in their musical activities in churches and schools. In essence, although no Western-type music education took place at this point in time, this period provided the artistic and educational motivation and curiosity that sustained the interest which culminated in the acceptance of Western music education on its arrival in Nigeria from the West. The informal and semiformal musical structures in Nigeria and, by extension, Africa, may not be ignored in the proper discussion of music education in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, having been generally colonized.  The attempt by Portugal in early 1400 resulted in explorers moving to the West African Coast for trade and spread of Christian religion. This exploration, attracting other Western countries and in combination resulted in the great trans-Atlantic slave trade. Furthering their interests, the African continent was partitioned by European powers at the Berlin conference of 1884-1885 “to establish regulations that would protect their economic and political interests” (Agawu, 2003: 1). This enabled the implantation of Western colonial rule and Christian missionary work that came with several doctrines, religious observances, education and social activities including music education. By the later part of 19th century, Western presence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole has become so significant that colonial rule and cultural transfer from the West to Africa were at their peaks. It became evident that there was no going back as Western musical activities had swept through the Nigerian landscape in the form of singing in churches and in schools.  COLONIAL/MISSIONARY PERIOD IN NIGERIAN WESTERN MUSIC EDUCATION HISTORY  Evidently, the establishment of colonial rule and the transplantation of Christian religion through missionary work by Europeans into Nigeria formed the foundation and enabling structures that rooted Western music education in Nigeria and in most African countries south of the Sahara. As early as 1841:  ... the Wesleyan mission visited Badagry and reached Abeokuta in 1846 (Burns, 1972). In 1843, rev. H. Townsend of church Missionaries Society (CMS) landed in Badagry and reached Abeokuta. On January 5, 1843, the first divine service was held in Abeokuta town. The first CMS baptism was held on February 5, 1848 while the first confirmation service was held by Bishop Vidal on November 19, 1854. In 1843, Reverend D. Hinderer visited Lagos. This wave of European religious influences reached Brass in 1868,Opobo and Bonny in 1869. New Calabar in 1874 and Okrika in 1878 (Epelle, 1964). Between 1841 and 1902, Euro-Christian religious and cultural influences swept through southern part of Nigeria, and moved in the northerly direction into the Islamized north. (Vidal, 2012: 85) With these churches and Christian missions came the continuous singing of songs from Western hymns and songs as well as other ceremonial and marching band music for administrative functions. “Music literacy (then) (solfa notation in particular) became expedient for the Missionary as well as the Colonial educational objectives and content. It served for producing church choirs and recreational school music.” (Nzewi 1999:4) At this point in Nigeria’s music history, it could be safely concluded that there was no structured formal programme of music instruction or verifiable curriculum. Attempts at this time were highly explorative, with every effort made to convert and attract locals to join in the musical activities to remove the burden of importing foreigners to take up such assignments. Music making in these outlets were general in nature without set goals of formal education leading to acquisition of certificates, diplomas or degrees. Western musical activities then were utilitarian in nature, serving specific purposes at any given point in time. Some pundits have argued that the intention of such Missionaries was not to develop music in Nigeria (Africa as a whole) to the benefit of natives but to have cheaper alternatives and manpower for their entertainment and provision of music during worship. Whatever the real intention is can, at best, be speculated upon now. Nevertheless, this encounter awakened in the hearts and minds of many Nigerians the desire to acquire the knowledge and skills of Western music through formal studies. Many of such locals took up the learning of musical instruments such as the harmonium, organ, trumpets, etc. through private studies, while some became choir masters and singers. Indeed, the first pipe organ was shipped to Nigeria by Harrison and Harrison of Great Britain in 1897 (Vidal, 2012: 87).   The attraction to the new wave of music saw the first Nigerian, Robert Coker, who later took up orders and became a pastor, “as the first Nigerian to study music abroad in Germany in 1871” (Vidal, 2012: 87). Prior to his study abroad, he was the Organist and Choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral, Lagos. As already mentioned, the strong musicality of Nigerians was instrumental to the great achievements of many people that switched over to the new Western art with excellence. With little or no formal training, many of such persons took up the challenge of imitating the type of music that the missionaries presented and were prepared for studies abroad while some others remained in the country to man the various church choirs. One of the strong strategies employed which contributed to the development of music in Nigeria at that time was the institution of choral competitions in schools and churches. This provided great motivation for the learning of European hymns and songs with eyes on the prizes. Also catalytic was the banning of Christian converts/members from participating in indigenous music practices which were regarded as pagan worship/practice. Thus, Indigenous music was left to the “pagans”. Such Christian converts threw in their whole creative and expressive life into the new music of the West. This saw the sustenance of both indigenous music and Western music, a feature that still exists till date.   “The second Nigerian to receive musical training abroad is Thomas K. Ekundayo Phillips (1884-1969) who in 1911 started studying music at the Trinity College of Music, London” (Vidal, 2012; 88). Following on the heels of Thomas are Fela Sowande, William Wilberforce Chukwudinka Echezona, Olaolu Omideyi, Lazarus Ekwueme, Akin Euba, and a whole lot of people that took the opportunity to study outside Nigeria before the establishment of music institutions in Nigeria. Most of them graduated as composers, organists, singers and pianists as well as ethnomusiclogists and music educators.  Many of the older generations of art music composers in Nigeria were trained in the mission schools established by the European missionaries. The establishment of European music education in Nigeria coerced new mode of musical expression and communication. Nigerians acquired the knowledge and skill of music notation, composition, performance and aesthetic appreciation of such music.  Characteristic of this period is the performance of choral and instrumental music drawn from the works of Western composers. Such performances were mainly hosted by the churches during the festive seasons. “Christianity, through its schools and churches, introduced melodrama, proscenium stage singing, congregational singing, Western harmony and choral singing, the organ/harmonium, and group singing very different from the traditional call and response” (Okafor, 2005: 194). Translation of Western hymns was a feature of Christian activities in Nigeria that played vital role in the musical acculturation of Nigerians. Though laden with some critical textual mis-interpretations, such translations played key roles in bringing the meaning of such hymns home to the converts and natives.   The dominance of Western art music, martial music, and secular songs during this period was something that bothered some of the talented and budding composers at that time. The idea of performing exclusively Western works was not entirely acceptable to some who felt indigenous Nigerian musical elements must be integrated in musical works to make them acceptable and less alienating to the majority of Nigerians. This is a challenge that was taken up later in the development of Western music/education in Nigeria. In the early part of twentieth century evidences of attempts to build a bridge across Western and indigenous Nigerian music started emerging in the works of Nigerian composers such as Fela Sowande, Wilberforce Echezona, Ayo Bankole, Akin Euba, Dayo Dedeke, Samuel Akpabot, etc. Such composers made notable attempts to combine elements of dance, rhythm, melody from indigenous Nigerian music with Western compositional idioms they learnt from Western works.   With the choral background established by the Missionaries at this period, majority of Nigerian composers and music educators, naturally, were drawn from the church choirs, school choirs or were those that, at least, passed through the choir. This is a feature that has largely determined the course of musical development of Nigeria till present with high dominance of choral music and choral composers among the educated class. To a great extent, there is a dearth of instrumental works and composers in Nigeria. Commenting on solo songs in Nigeria, Lo-Bamijoko remarked that “most solo songs by Nigerian composers…have always presented limitations for singers because the writers themselves are still quite limited in their expressive techniques for solo voice having written always for choruses” (Nwosu-Lobamijoko, 2001:71). There has always been the enduring impact of the church-choral beginnings of Western music education in Nigeria as noticed in the creative outputs of those that passed through such education.   The musical experiment occasioned by the contact with Western colonization, Missionaries and churches, education and social life continued till the later part of twentieth century when Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960. While more people were drawn to Western music education and practices through their conversion and schooling, there was also a growing yearning for nationalism in both social and creative life of the nation. Thus, indigenization process was set in motion leading to various forms of hybrid compositions and transplantation of indigenous musical elements from their once functional contexts to the contemplative platforms during the later part of the colonial period.  THE POST INDEPENDENCE PERIOD OF WESTERN MUSIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA  Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960 after Western acculturation has been fully entrenched. Following this independence and the strong wave of nationalism and indigenisation that was perforce, the first indigenous University of Nigeria was established at Nsukka in 1961. On the wisdom and perception of the founding fathers of the institution, a Department of Music was included as one of the pioneer disciplines in the University to cater for the creative and cultural expression of the teaming Nigerians. This Department was charged with the duty of providing bi-cultural training and skills development of students admitted for studies enabling a graduate “to take his place alongside music graduates from other parts of the world” (Ekwueme, 2004: 155). The first set of four students was made up of Meki Nzewi, Felix Nwuba, Michael Okoye and Samuel Ojukwu. These “guinea pigs”, though now giants in the field of music education, creativity and performance, were the experimental group used to test-run the ability of the nation to produce Nigerian-bred educated musicians. Although, many of the teachers were expatriates, there was a feeling of participation by Nigerians in developing a new breed and generation of educated musicians in Nigeria. While the nation retained most of the Western paraphernalia in music education at the onset of independence, it at least started a new phase of nationhood with eye on nationalistic pursuits.   Thus, formal Music education started at the University level in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1961, being the first indigenous Nigerian University. Since the inception of formal tertiary music education in 1961, several institutions of higher learning have embraced the study of music. At least nine universities and no fewer than sixteen colleges of education now offer Music in their educational programmes. Of the number of departments offering music however, only five (University of Nigeria, Nsukka 1961, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife 1976, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka 1992, Delta State University, Abraka 1985 and University of Uyo, Uyo 1982) are Departments of Music in Nigerian Universities while three (University of Ilorin, Ilorin; University of Lagos, Akoka 1975 and Lagos State University, Ijanikin) are Departments of Performing arts and Cultural and Creative Arts respectively. One, (University of Ibadan 1981) is an Institute of African Studies. Idolor (2001:138-140) provides a fairly comprehensive list of higher institutions that offer Music and their dates of establishment. In Ilorin and Lagos Universities, Music is combined with other disciplines such as dance and theatre arts, while only Research at postgraduate levels in African Music option is offered at Ibadan. As such, they do not offer full Music programme as in the other five departments. Programmes adopted by these institutions are bi-cultural, featuring studies in Western and African Music on equal footing.  Following the Nigerian policy on education, in the later part of twentieth century, which mandated the inclusion of creative arts in the educational curricular, many colleges of education, secondary and primary schools included music as course of study or teaching subject, particularly in the southern part of the country. This enabled the production of music enthusiasts and practitioners at different levels of expertise. Many of these institutions have produced many graduates that form the core of personnel for music education, composition, performance and research in the country and beyond. Very many gifted persons have also been discovered in the process.  Quite significant in this period is the constant search for creative styles and compositional techniques for expressing the musical art within and outside the educational institutions. This has given rise to various compositional styles such as African pianism, Drummistic piano style of composition, African vocalism, Research composition, Creative musicology, Nsukka choral school of composition, etc. All these emerged from the creative works developed in educational institutions within this period.    Very few composers of written music for instruments are found in Nigeria. These include Fela Sowande, Ayo Bankole, Akin Euba, Lazarus Ekwueme, Joshua Uzoigwe, Meki Nzewi, Yemi Olaniyan,  Bode Omojola and Christian Onyeji.  Nigerian composers that have contributed immensely to the development of written music following their Western music education include the following: Rev. T.K.E. Phillips (church anthems); Fela Sowande (symphonic works, organ works and jazz arrangements); Akin Euba (piano pieces he calls “African Pianism”, operatic works, intercultural works for ensembles, solo songs for voice and piano); Ayo Bankole (organ works, vocal pieces for voice and piano, secular choral pieces); Wilberforce Echezona (secular choral works, church anthems); Samuel Akpabot (orchestral pieces, choral works, an operatic work); Lazarus Ekwueme (secular/sacred choral pieces, church anthems, an opera, solo songs); Adam Fiberesima (Operatic works, secular choral pieces); Dayo Dedeke (Yoruba hymn book) and Okechukwu Ndubuisi (piano pieces, secular and sacred choral works, solo songs for voice and piano). Others are Felix Nwuba (secular and sacred choral works and anthems); David Okongwu (sacred choral works and church anthems); Samuel Ojukwu (secular and sacred choral works and anthems); Dan Agu (Secular and sacred choral works and anthems); Ikoli Harcourt White (sacred choral works); Meki Nzewi (musical theatre works including music-drama, musicals, operas, danced drama, television drama, secular choral pieces, church anthems, works for intercultural ensembles, pieces for voice and drum and drum solos), Joshua Uzoigwe (drummistic piano music, secular solo songs for voice and piano, intercultural works for voice and piano and symphonic works); Christian Onyeji (solo songs for voice and piano, drummistic piano works, secular and sacred choral works, a symphony, quartet, intercultural ensemble works); Bode Omojola (secular choral pieces, operas, solo song for voice and piano); Yemi Olaniyan (secular choral pieces, experimental compositions for Nigerian instruments, works for solo Nigerian instruments).  CONCLUSION  Western music education has been rooted in Nigeria so much so that no discussion on music (education) in Nigeria would ignore its contributions to the Nigerian music development. Although there are contending views on its impact on the musicality of Nigerians, particularly to the indigenous musical practice and creativity, the fact remains that the Western education has remained a force to reckon within Nigeria. While many of the voices call for gradual but purposeful dismantling of Western musical structures in the Nigerian educational system, it is sad to note that not much has been put forward to replace it. At the moment, Nigerians are exposed to Western and African musical education in the educational system. Until the nation’s music curriculum planners and educators provide alternative music education programmes and methods that are truly sensitive to the indigenous creative endowments and practices of Nigeria, music education in Nigeria would remain Western-influenced. 	  REFERENCES Agawu, K. (2003). Representing African music: Postcolonial notes, Queries and Positions. New York: Routledge. Burns, Alan. (1972). History of Nigeria. London: G. Allen and Unwin. Ekwueme, L.E.N. (2004). Essays on African and African-American Music and Culture. Lagos: LENAUS Publishing Ltd. Epelle, E.M.T. (1964). Bishops in the Niger Delta. Aba: C.M.S. Idolor, G. E. (2001). Formal Education and the Development of African Art Music in Nigeria.  In M.A. Omibiyi (Ed.), African Art Music in Nigeria : Fela Sowande  Memorial  (pp. 135-149). Lagos: Stirling-Horden Publishers (Nig.) Ltd.  Lander, R. (1830). Records of Cpt. Clapperton’s last expedition to Africa (Vol. 1). London. Lo-Bamijoko, J. (2001). Art Singing in Nigeria: The Composer and the Performers. In M.A. Omibiyi (Ed.), African Art Music in Nigeria : Fela Sowande Memorial (pp. 70-76). Lagos: Stirling-Horden Publishers (Nig.) Ltd.  Okafor, R. C. (2005). Music in Nigerian society. Enugu: New Generation Books. Nzewi, M. (1999a). Modern Art Music in Nigeria: Whose Modernism. Unpublished Seminar paper presented at the Department of Music, University of Natal, Duban, R S A. Vidal, A. O. (2012). Selected topics on Nigerian music: General nature, history and musicology/music education. In F. Adedeji (Ed.), Ile-Ife: IMEF African Music Publishers.   NIGERIA - Additional Reference  Kwami, R. (1994). Music education in Ghana and Nigeria: A brief survey. Africa, 64(4), 544-560. doi:10.2307/1161373 Additional Reference Overview ISME Website History Standing Committee IHME Homepage Copyright © 2014 History Standing Committee, International Society for Music Education (ISME) Overview