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Michel Hogenes
Gehrels Music Education, A Dutch Association for Music Education

Introduction

Gehrels Music Education (GME) was founded in August 1945 during the fourth summer course for musicians and classroom teachers. During this course musicians and teachers were educated to teach music in schools as well as in specialised music schools. It was a plan to unite people in order to strive for the improvement of music education based on the ethos of a methodology developed by a Dutch musician and music educator, Willem Gehrels.

Nowadays, Gehrels Music Education wants to be a national centre of expertise that develops, bundles, disseminates and innovates national and international expertise in the field of music education, also in partnerships, with the aim to enhance the quality of music education for children from 0 up to and including 12 years old (early childhood and primary education).

The characteristics of high quality of music education, as defined by Gehrels Music Education are:

  • Music education that has a balance between productive, receptive and reflective forms of music activities
  • A balance between teacher-driven and learner-oriented music education
  • Teaching resources and musical activities are in line with the cultural background of children in a group and broaden children's cultural view
  • Materials and activities are developmental appropriate, and in line with children’s interests and talents
  • Materials and activities invite children to develop themselves musically
  • Music education that acknowledges the importance of the relationship of a child with key figures in musical activities, such as parents, caretakers, pedagogical staff, classroom teachers, and music teachers
  • Musical activities are attractive and contribute to the well-being of children
  • Musical activities contribute to a positive musical self-image.

The mission of Gehrels music education

Gehrels Music Education supports pedagogical staff, classroom teachers, music teachers and musicians in providing high quality music education. GME provides these groups with (innovative) teaching resources and possibilities for pursuing education in which national and international knowledge on music education is disseminated. De Pyramide [The Pyramid], a music education journal by GME that comes out five times a year and includes a CD two times a year, and the website are important means to achieve goals set by Gehrels Music Education. The journal and the website provide lesson plans, background articles and songs, as well as information on current issues in music education. In addition, Gehrels Music Education plays an advisory role. It actively contributes to policy issues and the development of music education for children from 0-12 years, both at a regional and national level.

Collaborations

Although the Netherlands is a small country with 17 million inhabitants, there is a number of organisations that partner Gehrels Music Education in promoting music education. As Gehrels Music Education focuses on early childhood music education as well as music in primary schools, the Vereniging Leraren Schoolmuziek (VLS) [Association for School Music Teachers] is GME’s counterpart for music educators with a conservatory background. Most of their members work in secondary schools. The VLS and GME have organised several joint professional development days. A second partner is the Stichting Muziek en het Jonge Kind [the Music and the Young Child Foundation]. This foundation promotes music for children till six years old and organises courses for early childhood music teachers. Gehrels Music Education and the Music and the Young Child Foundation collaborate during half-yearly professional development days. A third partner is the LKCA, the National Centre of Knowledge on Cultural Education and Amateur Arts. The LKCA is a platform for professionals, managers and policy makers in cultural education. And last but not least there is the Network of Music Teachers in (general) Teacher Education, the NMP [Netwerk Muziekdocenten Pabo]. GME and the NMP both focus on people working in primary education. Both associations have shared board members in the past.

At the moment, there is lots of attention for music in primary schools. A new foundation has been founded: More Music in the Classroom. The Minister of Education, together with private organisations, gives an (financial) impulse to music education (25 + 25 million euros). Schools can apply for money, collaborations between schools and conservatories as well as teacher education departments have started and there is a music contest for schools on national television. Honorary ambassador of this project is Queen Maxima of The Netherlands. The Queen is very much engaged in the project and helps to promote music education.

International partners

Apart from Dutch partners, Gehrels Music Education collaborates with international organisations. On a European level there is EuNet MERYC, the European Network for Music Educators and Researchers for Young Children. EuNet MERYC is an important partner for GME. GME organised and hosted the 2013 MERYC conference in The Hague. This year the MERYC conference will be held from June 19 till June 24 in Cambridge, UK.

On a global level ISME is an important partner of Gehrels Music Education. Gehrels Music Education has been the ISME National Affiliate for almost ten years. Last year, GME was very proud to host ISME’s Early Childhood Music Education (ECME) seminar in the Netherlands. Gehrels Music Education supports ISME’s ideas and values: to promote music in the education of people of all ages throughout the world, to enable every person to enjoy music and to take part freely in the musical life of the community, and to assist music educators in the preservation and teaching of the music cultures of human society while developing creative and competent musicians for the contemporary world.