¿Cuántas son dos y dos? A propósito de las eseñanzas integradas / How many is two and two? About integrated teachings

(Article published in no. 10 of the magazine Doce Notas. Madrid, February 1998)


The article entitled Parents of students. The cry in the sky, published in the previous issue of Doce Notas, in which the opinion of the current board of directors of the State Federation of Parents of Students of Music Conservatory "Joaquín Turina " about certain aspects of the current state of musical education, makes it advisable to quickly clarify some of the opinions expressed in it, since its exposition could be the cause of misinterpretations that, far from contributing to clarifying the current situation, would end up to rarefy it even more than it is.
There are several points of discrepancy with the content of the aforementioned article, and it will be good to return to all of them in a future article; but, in order not to bore the reader, as well as to concentrate my energies and theirs, I will only refer on this occasion to the aspect that, in my opinion, is more confusingly exposed, and whose importance and timeliness require a quick clarification, for questioning nothing less than the viability of the full implementation of the intermediate degree (remember that during the current academic year its third course has been implemented, and that the remaining three will be during the courses 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, respectively).
There is an aspect of musical education that, in the case of the middle grade courses that remain to be implemented, is of great concern to all sectors of the educational community: teachers, students and, with them, their parents, watch with concern how the progressive advance in musical studies requires for the students to dedicate themselves more and more to them, which, logically, translates into the need for more hours a day of physical presence in the conservatory and individual work at home. But what should be considered absolutely normal in higher grades (dedication to musical studies is supposed to be absolute), in the case of intermediate levels can be totally hampered if, as seems desirable, the student takes this training period in the ages that are considered suitable for it -which are none other than those that in turn will have to allow admission to higher education at around 18 years of age (as occurs in any university career, with which our studies, as it will be remembered, are fully equal since the entry into force of the LOGSE), given that, as is logical, the aforementioned ideal ages are none other than those that oblige the apprentice musician to simultaneously complete the studies corresponding to general education (in specifically, the four courses of Compulsory Secondary Education and the two of Baccalaureate) with those of the specialized teaching of music (as well as dance, to which it is applicable in its entirety all that has been said and remains to be said).
A detailed reading of the table published on page 8 of the previous issue of Doce Notas is simply chilling. If credibility is given to what it contains, students who are simultaneously studying the 2nd cycle of middle grade and ESO (between 15 and 16 years of age) must dedicate a total of 94 hours and a half a week to both studies (which means an average of 13 hours per day, including Saturdays and Sundays!), while for those who attend from the year 1999-2000 the 3rd. cycle of music and Baccalaureate the total is 112 h. (= 16 hours a day. If they spend -what less?- 8 hours sleeping, when do they eat, listen to music other than the one they study, or -what is no less important- go to the movies, read or, simply, have fun our students?).

The initial shock forces a calm reading of the addends: because, without a doubt, there must be an error. And this becomes evident when verifying a certain "bias" hidden behind the figures, with no other apparent objective than to inflate, like a Christmas turkey, the time tables of the inset in question. To obtain these macro figures, the directive of the Federation of Parents of Students has not hesitated to "punish" their children in the 2nd cycle, forcing them to study for 1 hour a day (including Saturdays and Sundays, if you want the accounts to balance) repertoire for the Orchestra class, and another hour a day for the Chamber Music class (which would presuppose such a degree of technical complexity in the didactic programming of these subjects, that the formative nature that ensemble teaching should have in this section of the studies would disappear completely), as well as to dedicate 45 minutes a day to the teachings of Harmony and Complementary Piano.
Similarly, third cycle students must spend the same amount of time daily on Orchestra and Chamber Music, plus 45 minutes daily on History of Music, another 45 minutes daily on the elective, 1 hour daily on Analysis and -already in a real delirium- 1 h. and 45 minutes a day to the subject "Fundamentals of composition", which, without knowing why, has been downgraded by the Federation of Parents of Students (what would Joaquín Turina say, if he raised his head?) to the rank of "complementary " with which it appears named (a betrayal of the subconscious?). At this point in examining the inset, the initial shock has turned into deep indignation. Who are you trying to cheat?
I swear by the most sacred that during my entire student life I never dedicated to my training as a composer the daily hours that, in the opinion of the directive of the Federation of Parents of Students, are required, and much less in the teachings equivalent to those of the aforementioned courses of the new middle level. And I can assure you that, from my teaching activity as a professor of Harmony and, in the very near future, of Analysis and Foundations of Composition of the new curriculum, I have never advised nor will I advise any student to dedicate the daily time advocated to study in that inset: with much less is enough, and as fundamental for the student is the organized study, dosed and absent of neurosis, as the attendance, periodic and frequent, to concerts and auditions of good music, which, being as formative or more that the study, does not appear mentioned even by chance.

But nevertheless, the clear accounts do not end here. In a quick summary, it is necessary to remember that the LOGSE establishes in its art. 17 Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, providing for the latter (art. 27.3) a minimum of four modalities (Arts, Natural and Health Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Technology), and granting the Government the power to establish new modalities, in accordance with the Autonomous Communities (art. 27.7). Likewise, and within the chapter dedicated to artistic education, it is established in art. 41.2 that students who have completed the third cycle of the middle grade of music or dance will obtain the Bachelor's degree, if they pass the common subjects of the baccalaureate.
In accordance with the foregoing, the 3rd paragraph of the third additional disposition of Royal Decree 756/1992, of June 26, which establishes the basic aspects of the curriculum of the elementary and middle levels of music, provides that the specific Baccalaureate referred to in the LOGSE in its art. 41.2, mentioned in the previous paragraph, will receive the denomination of Baccalaureate in Music, and will be considered integrated by the subjects of the third cycle of the middle degree in the corresponding specialty and, in addition, only the common subjects of the Baccalaureate. Said teachings may be taken simultaneously (third additional disposition, 4th paragraph), and the aforementioned common Baccalaureate subjects may also be taken after passing the third cycle of the middle music degree.
And since the elaboration and approval of the Royal Decree mentioned in the previous paragraph corresponded to the Government of the nation, and that this norm was agreed at the time with the Autonomous Communities, there is no reason to think that the Baccalaureate of Music to which it refers to be different, legally speaking, than the minimum modalities of Baccalaureate established in art. 27.3 of the LOGSE. In this sense, the aforementioned Royal Decree approved not only the minimum teachings of the elementary and middle levels of Music, but also a new modality of Baccalaureate, that of Music, as provided in the Law.
Therefore, it is worth asking about the meaning of the second part of the schedule of the Federation of Parents of Students Associations (the one that refers to the Baccalaureate), given that, not only is the reader not warned at any time of the legal existence of the new Baccalaureate in Music modality, but, on the contrary, it is silently silenced, by assuming in the calculation that students in the third cycle of intermediate grade must fully comply with the complete teaching time (29 hours per week in the first year, and 30 in the second) of any of the modalities of the General Baccalaureate.
In the attached insets (a varied sample of different instrumental specialties) the distortion of figures proposed by the Federation of APAs can be verified, since, as can be seen, the total teaching of the common subjects (the only ones that must be studied, according to the cited Royal Decree, to obtain the title of Bachelor of Music) amounts to 12 h. weekly in the first year, and 10 in the second. If the resulting little more than two hours of daily average are managed to be concentrated by the Institutes in a time slot that makes them operational (for the time being, the creation of integrated centers is more in the realm of fiction than that of immediate reality), and accepting as correct the calculations on displacements shuffled by the directive of the Federation and applying to said teaching time the proportional part of the 17.30 hours/week calculated for "Study and work", it turns out that the 50 weekly hours dedicated to the Institute are reduced —without exaggeration— to a maximun of 21. Now adjust the real time calculations (teaching and work at home) that, in accordance with the above, must be applied to a student in the third cycle of music, and it will be verified that he has more than enough time to comfortably carry out both teachings simultaneously. Much better, obviously, than any student of the 1966 plan who has been or is currently in the same situation.

Without being so spectacular, the hourly figures on ESO will experience a notable decrease if the Government is once and for all able to address the development of integrated teachings of the general regime and the special regime of music (and dance), in what is referred to this formative stage. In any case, the 25 hours per week of physical presence in the center could be reduced by between 4 and 6 hours, depending on the course, as a result of a curricular adaptation by which the students of the 1st and 2nd cycles of middle grade of Music would not have to study the subject of Music, obviously, nor the elective subjects, and the time resulting from said deletions can be devoted to the specific subjects of the music curriculum. And as in the case of the Baccalaureate mentioned above, once said norm is approved, the simultaneity of both teachings would be much more advantageous for LOGSE middle-grade students than it has been for those of the same grade of the 1966 plan.
An extreme case -and as such must be valued- of what has been said is illustrated by the reproduction of the files corresponding to two students who study with me the 3rd year of Harmony during the current year (the personal data have been, of course, eliminated, but the veracity of the academic data has been duly verified by this publication) and, simultaneously, 2nd year of Baccalaureate (file number 1) and 4th year of ESO (file no. 2). The first is 16 years old, and the second 15; they fall, therefore, within the age considered suitable for the studies they are doing, which will allow them to enter higher grade at around 18 years of age. In accordance with the teaching times established by the General Directorate of Educational Centers for the subjects of the 1966 study plan, their physical presence at the Conservatory is required for no less than 12 hours weekly in the first case, and 16 in the second.

Both cases are not frequent (the average weekly hours of students of these ages oscillate between 6 and 7 hours), but the serious thing is that the academic destructuring of the 1966 plan makes it possible. If we add the 30 and 25 hours of the 2nd year of Baccalaureate and the 4th year of ESO to the respective 12 and 16 hours, which must be completed in their entirety -both students belong, as has been said, to the 1966 plan, so can’t benefit from the advantages that, in this sense, the students of the new order will have-, the result is, in their case, considerably higher than that put forward by the Federation's directive to question the viability of the new musical teaching plan, whose organization in closed courses makes such academic nonsense simply impossible.
In view of all of the above, it would not hurt for those responsible for the information that appeared in the previous issue of Doce Notas to make clear to public opinion the goodness of their intentions, because otherwise, the obvious manipulation of objective figures would force us to think that what is being pursued can be anything, except what it should be. The teaching of music in our country has dragged on for decades in an unfortunate situation, which has made us the laughing stock of a Europe to which we must now integrate in every way, that one included. For this reason, passing off any past time as the best is, not just a supine nonsense, but a clear symptom of the most serious and absolute irresponsibility, as is trying to confuse a public opinion that is as uninformed as it is naive, which, precisely for that reason, deserves a very different treatment that, of course, goes through respect and veracity.

Madrid, January 1998