Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (65)

Tom Neville


65. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider changing the status of turntables to deem them musical instruments on the school curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42605/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Leaving Certificate Music syllabus states clearly that:

‘Students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to input via electronic instruments (and/or conventional instruments with electronic controllers providing a midi interface) a musical score of at least two real parts.’

Turntables do not allow for the input of musical score, and are therefore not suitable for the purpose of demonstrating an ability to understand and to use microtechnology music-making systems.

It is therefore not considered to be an instrument and is not equitable with other acoustic or electronic instruments for practical/performance purposes.

Students are, however, free to use electronic instruments for performance purposes.

While electronic instruments are referenced in the Leaving Certificate syllabus no specific electronic musical instruments are named, but nor is there an exhaustive list of recognised acoustic instruments. Electronic musical instruments are referenced generally, as synthesisers, MIDI interfaces and computerised music systems. Likewise, no electronic music equipment is specified in any syllabus documentation.

In relation to the Junior Cycle specification 2018, there are no references to specific instruments electronic or otherwise. There is no distinction made between acoustic and electronic in the Junior Cycle specification for Music, allowing for the inclusion and exploration of a variety of instruments by students.

For the purposes of assessment at Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Music, students can perform as a soloist or as a group on any instrument or combination of instruments, and this can be acoustic or digital/electronic. The State Examinations Commission issue guidelines on this every year, to ensure that there is clarity on what is allowed and not allowed in the practical examination. Here is an example of their guidelines from 2019:

At primary level, the primary school curriculum incorporates the subject’s visual arts, music and drama within the curriculum area of arts education. In the primary school music curriculum, enabling pupils to record compositions on electronic media is referenced in all strands of the curriculum from infants up to sixth class.

The music curriculum for 3rd and 4th classes confirms that pupils should be enabled to select different kinds of sounds, including electronic instruments. For 5th and 6th classes the curriculum advises "creativity and uniqueness are given a means of self-expression through the provision of opportunities to experiment and gain control of a range of musical materials. These include manufactured instruments and home-made percussion and melodic instruments as well as electronic media.”