Music education in Jordan ‘in fragile state’

Music education2
(Photo: Freepik)
AMMAN — According to teachers and students, music education in Jordan is limited and undervalued.

“Music education in private and public schools in Jordan is in a fragile state,” said Mohammad Alshawaheen, head of the Theater and Music Department in the Ministry of Education, in an interview with Jordan News. He attributed this problem to the “small number of specialized teachers appointed in the schools.” اضافة اعلان

Alshawaheen said that teaching music is not only important for the student’s educational success, but also for their personal development. “Its influence on the students will give the students many life skills they will use in the future,” he said.

“The disadvantage of not teaching music is that we do not give the students sufficient space to express their ideas,” said Alshawaheen. “By not giving the student aesthetic taste in arts in general and music in particular” schools limit students’ intellectual development and put them on the path to extremism and “intellectual intolerance,” he said. “If highly and technically skilled in any kind of art, the human being becomes more of a well-balanced person.”

“Universities do not graduate a sufficient number of music teachers to teach music in schools,” added Alshawaheen. “There is no effective partnership between universities and the Ministry of Education in appointing graduates as music teachers.” He said that the Ministry of Education prioritizes appointing teachers in other academic disciplines over appointing teachers in the arts. 

An educator lamented the absence of music education at her school. “Teaching music in schools is an excellent idea, and I hope that it will be applied in public schools,” said Nawa, a government school principal in Zarqa, in an interview with Jordan News. “We have a music course, and we put marks annually for it, but unfortunately, it is not implemented because of the lack of capacity, infrastructure, and teachers who specialize in music.”

Nawa added: “The advantages of teaching music are that it nourishes the soul, relaxes the soul, and, if taught as a course in our schools, will help our students because they fill their time with something useful and at the same time fun.”

Nawa emphasized that effective music education requires age-appropriate courses and proficient teachers. Additionally, the students must apply their lessons “in rooms equipped with musical instruments, so the lesson is practical, not just theoretical,” she said.

“While many schools of an Islamic identity may not teach music, depending on whether the issue is permissible or forbidden,” said Maha Alkhatib, a private school principal in Amman, “other private schools consider teaching music as an enriching and important subject.”

According to Alkhatib, the positive effects of music education include mitigating boredom, providing a positive outlet for student energy, developing students’ talents, and providing an opportunity for students to compete in competitions, whether at the level of the Ministry of Education or at the school level.

“For music to be taught, specialists who have knowledge about music and play more than one instrument must be appointed,” said Alkhatib. 

“Teaching music is something that public schools lack, and the subject of music is an important subject because it develops students’ skills,” said Sayel, a student at a public school. 

Sayel also said that music education provides students possible work opportunities as well as “psychological health benefits” including alleviation of depression and anxiety.

A private school student said that music education lessened his anxiety. “Based on my experience, I have found it very therapeutic that a musical course is taught in schools. Schools are usually associated with a very high-stress level environment which is very hard to escape,” said Tammam, a student at King’s Academy, a prestigious private school, in an interview with Jordan News. “Despite the stress I go through daily, on certain days after leaving my math class, I attend my piano class, and immediately forget about my tests and just focus on the keys that lay beneath my palm.”

“I believe and recommend that any school that can provide a musical course should do so,” he said. “I also don’t understand why some schools are eliminating their music education programs because almost everybody enjoys music, whether they are listening to it, talking about it, or playing it.”

Tammam also noted that “If some schools do eliminate those courses, they will not only eliminate a fun subject but one that will enrich their students’ lives and education.”