Music education in the United States

Music education in the United States can be traced through historical documentation to the colonial era. Among the Native Americans prior to European and African settlement, music education was entirely oral.


The earliest systematic music education in the country was centered on the training of singers for Protestant church services, to lead the congregation in psalm-singing.  In the 18th century, the first singing schools in the country were founded, and a number of legendary traveling singing masters traveled New England, teaching in barns, schoolhouses and other informal locations; these masters included Francis Hopkinson and William Billings. By the end of the century, more formal singing schools in cities like Savannah, Philadelphia and Boston become social singing societies.

Public education in the United States first offered music as part of the curriculum in Boston in the 1830s, and it spread through the help of singing teacher Lowell Mason, after he successfully advocated it to the Boston School Committee in 1838. The committee ultimately decided to include music as a curricular subject because it was of a moral, physical, and intellectual nature. Music was considered moral because it played such a part in religion, as well as the fact that had been documented to produce “happiness, contentment, cheerfulness, and tranquility.” It was of a physical nature because singing was exercise for the lungs.The committee justified music’s intellectual nature by stating that it had been studied as a part of the quadrivium in the Middle Ages, and that it “contributes to memory, comparison, attention, and intellectual faculties.”


In the present era, the real fact is that  funding for music education has been reduced largely. Music teachers struggle and so the society is losing music teachers at a high rate. As the general education system is changing and everything is requires a tested method. It is very difficult to measure musical success  by pencil and paper and it is only through the development  of musicianship. There are some music schools which are extremely conservative and this should be changed. It should be open to multicultural music. There is still room for “traditional” music education and  music educators should embrace the craft as a way to teach creativity, problem-solving and cultural harmony.

Many talented students decide to study abroad at prominent music schools and colleges. For this, student health insurance and travel insurance is a must – click here for more details .

For more information about music education around the world visit International Society for Music Education and the Music Education Council.