Back to Article List


       To study music is to study the basics.  Music is a comprehensive art – within its study students come into contact with other basic areas of the curriculum: math, science, social studies, languages and physical education.   While music is a subject with its own body of knowledge, and is inherently worth knowing, its comprehensive nature serves as a foundation for a unified and comprehensive educational setting.

       In 1963, DECS Memorandum #11,s.1963 was issued pointing out that Arts and Physical Education in the elementary grades were often neglected for the sake of instructional and administrative expediency.  It called for the proper implementation of D.O. #1,s. 1957, singling out Arts & Physical Education as the proper vehicle for DECS’ cultural revival program.The directive also aimed to make Art Education, Music and Physical Education required subjects in the elementary grades.  Under Arts and Physical Education, all such subjects were to be allotted a  40-minute and 50-minute instruction time in the primary and intermediate grades respectively. It was further stated that the above mentioned subjects should not be sacrificed for the sake of any other subjects in the elementary school curriculum. (DO Memorandum #1,s. 1963 – cultural Revival. Through Art Education, Music and Physical Education in the Elementary Schools).

       Bulletin #6,s.1959, titled Improving the Teaching of Music, was a follow up of D.O. #1,s. 1957, observations being  that “music has for some years not been seriously taught”. Prescribed in this bulletin was for music to be combined with Art Education and Physical Education , and not as erroneously concluded from the title ‘Art Education and Physical  Education’ where Music seemed to have been scrapped from the daily schedule of subjects.  General Letter #23, dated July 21, 1956 gave specific instructions that music should have a definite period or time on the day’s program in addition to its correlation with appropriate subjects.

       As early as 1950, D.O. Memorandum #72, came out with a prescription of “Music courses in the Secondary Schools’ General Curriculum”.  Courses in Second, third and fourth year were likewise suggested:

    1. voice culture – for those inclined to singing

  • courses on orchestral instruments

  1. courses on band instruments – for those who wish to learn the trombone, cornet, xylophone, saxophone, etc.  The explanatory work was either vocal or instrumental and should be for 6 weeks, 80 minutes a day.

       The setback to the suggested music course offerings were and still is the absence of orchestral and band instruments which were/are very expensive.  Some sectors did come to have band instruments via donations or private sponsorship as fundings for their procurement was yet to be appropriated.

       The memo mentioned further that a school should not offer any music course unless a qualified teacher is available.  It deemed essential that a teacher of music must have a thorough academic and professional training experience, a pleasant and dignified personality alongside the provision of a well-equipped music room.

       A subsequent bulletin #6,s.1959 from the Bureau of Public Schools, titled Improving the Teaching of Musicunderlined that not any teacher can teach music. It states that a teacher of Music should be one with a special aptitude, not only because he can sing or play an instrument but also because he possesses a knowledge of Music reading and notation.  If there is only  one qualified music teacher in a school, Music instruction may be given once or twice a week for the total time allotted to the subject during the week.

       The Bureau of Public Schools likewise encouraged the training of all music teachers: consultants from the General Office,  Music instructors from the nearest regional normal schools, and lay music leaders of the community.

       The increasing importance given to music education was reflected  in the passage of R.A. 4723 (Music Law).  Enacted in 1966, the Music Law was the first legislative Act in the history of the country to directly benefit school music education.  The law envisioned the upgrading of Philippine Musical Culture through the improvement of Music instruction on  the elementary and secondary school levels of both public and private schools.

       The second Republic Act that has benefited Music education is R.A. 5523.  Enacted in 1968, the law has created various school division positions.  It specially provide for 10  music supervisory positions in ten school divisions of the Bureau of Public Schools.

       The initial implementation of the above stated laws has firmly rooted music in the curriculum of both public and private schools in the country.

       Not until recently,  the time allotted for each of the three subjects: Arts, Music and Physical Education, were 40 minutes daily for Grades I-IV, and 50 minutes daily for Grade V-VI.

       With the implementation of the Music Law, the subjects were subdivided into distinct areas, namely:

  1. Music and Art

  2. Physical Education

       Implementing regulations of R.A. 4723 (Music Law) was embodied in the bureau of Public Schools Circular #24,s.1967 but was rescinded by Department Order #10,s.1970 with the advent of the 1970 Revised Elementary Education Program. The latter provides that Music and Arts be treated as separate subject areas with Music allotted 3 days a week and Arts 2 days.

       The Philippine Society for Music Education (PSME), a non-profit association composed of music educators all over the  country, had its beginnings on November 23, 1971.   Its primary intent was to improve music education in all its areas, to share new knowledge and ideas on music and music education.  Symposia, workshops and annual general assemblies marked the infant years of PSME with Dr. Lucrecia S. Kasilag, now National Artist for music as founding president. As a direct effect of its historic formation,  three music organizations – the Philippine Choral conductors’ Association,  the Philippine Society for Organists, and the Piano Teachers’ Guild of the Philippines were likewise founded.

       In November 7-9, 1975, the succeeding president Dean Corazon S. Maceda spearheaded a workshop aimed at the formulation of goals of Music Education in the Philippines.   Twenty-nine workshop participants, all distinguished Filipino educators, came up with well-articulated goals for elementary, secondary and tertiary (music majors and none-music majors) level of music education.

       From 1975 onwards, PSME continued on its mission to improve music education through yearly seminars and workshops and lecture series, to help produce competent music teachers.  One such notable program undertaken under Dr. Loreto C. Gloria, was a nationwide scholarship program for public and private teachers from elementary and high school. This program was  implemented in cooperation with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine Normal University (PNU).  To date, two groups of Scholars have completed their training while a third batch is presently being readied for the second summer session by 1999, with completion seen by summer of 2000.

       The Department of Education and Culture (DEC) issued an Order #21,s.1973 which was a “Clarification on the Revised Physical Education and Health, Music Pre-Military Training (PMT) and Scouting Program for School Year 1973-1974.  The course name was changed to Youth Development Training (YDT) to replace Physical Education, Health, Music and PMT in the first to third years of high school.  Weekly schedules of 40 minutes per period were as follows:

  First Semester Second Semester
Scouting 2 days 1 day
Physical Education 1 day 2 days
Health 1 day 1 day
Music 1 day 1 day

       Citizens’ Arm Training (CAT), replaced PMT, PE, Health and Music for the fourth year.  A 40-minute weekly schedule per period were to be followed for both semesters.

CAT 2 days
Physical Education 1 day
Health 1 day
Music 1 day


       As a YDT component, Music Education was offered in all curriculum years.  Approximately 65% of the total number of music pieces to be learned in each curriculum year should consist of Philippine folk and composed music and the rest, foreign music, to include internationally known music matters. The creative uni-segmented and integrative conceptual approaches are suggested for music teaching-learning situations.

       Meanwhile, in 1970-71, the Revised Elementary Education curriculum gave Music and Arts, 30 minutes per day, to schedule as follow:

  First Semester Second Semester
Music 3 days 2 days
Art 2 day 3 days 

       Department of Education and Culture (DEC) Memorandum #65,s.1974 announced a “Third National Seminar – Practicum in School Music Education “, sponsored jointly by DECS, the Philippine National Society for Music Education and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, dated September 7-8, 1974.  It was held at Teachers’ Camp, Baguio city.  The theme was: “Innovative Musical Dimensions for the furtherance of the Quality of School Music Education in the New Society” with foreign music experts as resource speakers.

       The above national seminar-practicum came after the conclusion of a 5-year UP-BPS (University of the Philippines and Bureau of Public Schools) Scholarship Program from 1968-1973.  Annual scholarship recipients were teachers teaching music both in the elementary and secondary schools.  The period covered 2 semesters and 1 summer with a stipend for books and a living allowance including regular salaries. An average of 30 to 40 scholars a year attended the program highly benefitting Music Education in the country.

       1971 saw the start of the National Music Competitions as an annual undertaking aimed to discover and nurture young music talents from among school children.  Concerned music educators of varied expertise and persuasions voluntarily came together to contribute their time and experiences towards the yearly endeavor.  Teachers prepared their choirs and students to compete.  The DECS in various regions through regional levels, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) was mainly responsible for the week-long  National finals held every last week of November. This coincides with the National Music Week (Presidential Proclamation #1173 dated August 7, 1973).  From then on, the competition expanded to include not only children’s choirs but also solo instruments, piano solos, youth choirs, college choirs and eventually, also included the rondalla competition.

       In 1982, the Ministry of Education and Culture issued MEC Order #6,s.1982 outlining the New Elementary School Curriculum (NESC).  Beginning school year 1983-84, the new curriculum was introduced by grade levels.   The gradual implementation of NESC in Grades I through Grade VI saw the absence of Music in Grades I and II.  In the Revised Elementary Education Curriculum effective 1970-71, time allotment (minutes daily) for Music and Arts was:

30 30 30 30 30

       With the advent of the New Elementary School Curriculum effective school year 1983-84, time allotment for Arts and Physical Education became: 

    40 40 40 40 

       Music lost its identity with its marked absence in Grades I and II.  Music for the elementary grades was offered only from Grades III to VI.

       Time allotment – Minutes per week for Arts and Physical Education: 

    200 200 200 200 

       Equal distribution of time for Music, Arts and PE was on a 2-2-2 plan the whole year round.  In the mid-90’s Physical Education regained its foothold  in Grades I and II through Gr. VI with 120 minutes per week time allotment.  Meanwhile Music and Arts remained integrated in Civic and Culture in Grades I and II, while in Grade III and VI, they were eased out of the equal time sharing and given only 80 minutes a week divided by the 2 areas, Music and Art.   Music became a 40-minute, once-a-week-subject per period.  The preparation of students for Olympic competitions became the thrust of DECS up to present.

       The New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) became effective by School Year 1989-90.   Physical Education, Health and Music, Citizen’s Army Training (CAT) remained a component of PEHM in the fourth year.  Arts became integrated with Music in the 3rd and 4th year levels.

       Since 1973-74 with D.O. Memorandum #16.s.1973,v”Classification on the Revised PE and Health, Music, PMT and Scouting Program – Music was given a 40-minute once-a-week time allotment at all levels. This continued with the 1989 NSEC but by 1997, under the Revised Rating System,  time allotment for PEHM/CATwas scheduled as follows:

        First and Second Year 

First Semester – one day a week – 40 minutes
Second Semester – two days
  (Health opposite Music on a 1-2; 2-1 arrangement) 


        Third Year 

First Semester    
  Health – 2 days (40 minutes)
  Music – 1 day as Music and Arts (40 minutes)
  PE – 2 days (40 minutes)

Second Semester    
  Health – 1 day (40 minutes)
  Music – 1 day (40 minutes)
  Music and Arts – 1 day (40 minutes)
  PE – 2 days (60 minutes) 


        Fourth Year 

Health 1 day 40 minutes
Music and Arts 1 day 40 minutes
Physical Education 2 day 60 minutes
CAT 1 day 80 minutes


About the Author:
Violeta E. Hornilla attended the Special Music Education Training Program at the University of Oregon and the University of Michigan. She is the president of the Philippine Society for Music Education (PSME) and is a member of the Committee on Music, National Commission for Culture and the Arts.