Transformations and cultural change in Scottish music education: historical perspectives and contemporary solutions

Mark Sheridan, Charles Byrne

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Political and social transformations impact on educational provision, and nowhere has that been more evident than in Scotland in the 20th Century: a period dominated by the expansion and then ultimate collapse of heavy engineering, shipbuilding and mining in the post-war decline of western domination of these markets in the 1960s and 1970s. These factors impacted on the fabric of communities and on secondary school provision where the old norms were swept away with a more egalitarian and inclusive curriculum defined in the 1970’s with a series of major government reports culminating in the ‘Music for All’ campaign (1984). The latter part of the 20th century also witnessed the renaissance of Gaelic and the traditional folk culture of Scotland led in part by collectors such as Hamish Henderson and the creation of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University in 1951. This was also paralleled by an increased desire for political and social change . The work of Fèisean Nan Gàidheal and other agencies,has brought the teaching of traditional music to many thousands of young people. Both formal and non-formal learning were transformed in the country during the last twenty years of the 20th Century with the advent in schools of rock, pop and jazz music as well as classical, and a thriving traditional music provision in the community. Inclusion, diversity and equality are the underpinning foundations of these provisions and the primacy of the learner – the truly student centred approach – is enshrined in the ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ national framework (2006). The paper concludes with a discussion on the challenges for facilitators and teachers in terms of pedagogy and methodology across these very different genres and what approaches can be deployed to ensure that all aspiring musicians have programmes of learning which are tailored to their needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Community Music
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
EventInternational Society of Music Educators - Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Glasgow , United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Jul 201627 Jul 2016


  • Music
  • education
  • Scottish
  • International


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