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Make Music Part Of The Single National Curriculum

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In these turbulent times, living through a pandemic, the necessity for artistic expression has never been more apparent. Since March 2020, artists from across the world have created unique works of art, whether they be in visual, fine arts or the performing arts. In terms of music, an explosion of content has emerged on the digital platform, creating a new generation of composers, producers, musicians, vocalists and songwriters across the world. In Pakistan, one finds artists in their teenage years already formulating their own powerful medium of expression through music which has helped millions or billions emotionally whilst it has also made a mark as a robust career path.

Currently, as a result of online resources for the beginning of sustainable income in music, artists may look for ways to establish careers in music without having to depend and rely on sources other than themselves. Furthermore, digital television platforms headed by corporations such as Coke Studio, Nescafe Basement and Pepsi Battle of the Bands have served as strong stepping stones for establishing a sustainable career in music. However, this will require education and training of understanding the resources available at their fingertips through proper learning and nurturing in their school years.

Beyond careers, music provides those critical soft skills that are essential as life skills and increasingly seen as the trigger for cognitive growth and better learning outcomes. Howard Gardner already alluded to music as an important category of multiple intelligences in the ‘80s (1983/1984). Since Gardner’s contribution to expanded learning, there has been a great deal of work on revisiting learning from the lens of 21st century skills, where music is an essential ‘Communication” skill. The Multiple Intelligences include: Music Verbal Intrapersonal Interpersonal Spatial Natural Math Kinesthetic (1984). For 21st century learning skills much has been written and continues to drive the curriculum framing for education systems across the world. The 12 core 21st Century skills include: 4 Cs (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication), information, media and technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills. Thus, music and performing arts have a clear place in this rich skills spectrum for the 21st century.

Due to the presence of music in everyday life and routine, there is no doubt that its placement must be embedded in school curriculums of today and the future in Pakistan. The country is embarking on the Single National Curriculum (SNC) and it is imperative to ensure that music and performing arts have secured a legitimate space in the SNC for holistic development of our children and society.

I believe there is a reasonable possibility to legitimately include ‘music and performing arts’ in the SNC principles (2020) Our country boasts of a variety of rich musical traditions that continue to inspire people of all ages and strata of society. At an early age, I had the privilege of receiving pearls of wisdom in music simply because I belonged to a family that understood and respected music not just as an art but as a tool for improving one’s own understanding and reflection. Why shouldn’t this idea and notion not be introduced in all our public and private educational institutions as well?

Therefore, our schools need to nurture young minds in the field of music through qualified, professional individuals with a formidable educational background and experience as a music professional as well. Music is not only inspiring and uplifting for our children and indeed our teachers and parents but is an EQUALIZER too; it cuts across wealth, religion, geography and gender. Yes it is compelling to conceptualize music as Equity and Empowerment. It is our obligation as educators to help our young musicians be discovered early and flourish by providing them with an encouraging environment for learning music in schools across Pakistan.

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Naya Daur