The Music Integrated Center Padre Antonio Soler in San Lorenzo de El Escorial


Los centros integrados en el marco de la L.O.G.S.E. / The integrated centers within the framework of the L.O.G.S.E.

(Communication read at the Music Education Conference "O Centro Integrado de Música", organized by the Concello da Cultura Galega at the Rajoy Palace, Santiago de Compostela, January 29, 1999)


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, I would like to thank the Consello da Cultura Galega for its kind invitation to participate in this day of musical education whose axis is the Music Integrated Center. Since 1992 I have been collaborating, more or less regularly, with the Department of Music and Performing Arts of the Subdirectorate General for Artistic Education, as a technical advisor. Despite this experience, I must admit in advance that, as far as integrated centers are concerned, their non-existence in the territorial scope of management of the Ministry for Education and Culture means that in this intervention I cannot account for the policy carried out in this sense by said Department. But I do believe it is useful to outline a synthesis as broad and objective as possible, of what in my opinion constitute the main lines of the reform in relation to the legal, academic and organizational situation, from which the creation and implementation of the integrated centers, in order to try to place in its place in the chain the link that supposes such a singular type of educational center.
During the last fifteen years, Spanish cultural life has known a flowering of musical activity that would have been previously unimaginable. When precariousness was the norm, everything was consistent with it, and in this way the various musical expressions kept a relationship between them that was as logical and proportionate as it was... mean. In a country with hardly any orchestras, with a minimal musical life, scarcely protected from the public powers, no one was surprised that musical education was at a comparable level: music never came to have its own specific weight in obligatory education, while his professional teaching was obstinate in focusing on obsolete nineteenth-century approaches.
But something failed in the calculations of the administration, then strongly centralist: suddenly, during the seventies, a new generation began to be interested in music and asserted before the State their right to a decent musical education. As a response, the Government of the day made a hole for it -late, and badly- in the first year of the Polivalent Unified Baccalaureate, in the form of History of Music, limiting its presence in Basic General Education to a few contents within the area of artistic expression. As this was clearly insufficient to guarantee general knowledge (not technical, of course) of the matter, the growing social demand soon forced the application of one of the provisions of Decree 2618, of September 10, 1966, by which the general regulations of the Conservatories of Music were established, the only centers, in practice, dedicated at that time to specialized musical education: the specified in its eighth article, in the following terms: "In addition to the professional, the Conservatories will be authorized to have a section of non-professional education. The programs of this will be of less content and depth. The approved courses will not be valid to pass to the professional one, and in all the documentation related to it, it must be stated verbatim: Non-professional education. Students who have passed some courses in the non-professional education section and wish to go to the professional section for a c course that is not the first, they may do so in the manner established in article twenty". This form, as is evident, is none other than the so-called "special sufficiency exam", through which it is still possible to directly access the middle grade courses of said plan that have not yet expired.
This situation, together with the educational effects granted to the title of Professor -the one corresponding to the intermediate grade-, has been progressively devaluing the quality of Spanish musical education with the results that we all know, whose main example can be seen around the "rebellion ", in the 1980s, of the new autonomies against Madrid's centralism, which for decades had monopolized for itself the two best orchestras in the country. The -unprecedented- policy of creating new orchestras led, in just over ten years, to a radical change in our symphonic panorama, now comparable to that of any average country in Europe, both in terms of the quality of the ensembles and the nationality of most of its components. It was precisely in this last aspect where the musical educational system showed its absolute ineffectiveness: the majority hiring of foreign professionals brought to the fore the lack of qualification of our instrumentalists -with the usual exceptions-, as well as the inadequacy between the titles issued by our conservatories and said professional qualification.
The inclusion of musical education, within the so-called "special regime education", in the LOGSE, meant its full entry into the educational system -something that had been completely lacking until then-, as well as the beginning of a profound reform that still today, more than eight years after the approval of the Law, is still halfway through its development.

Given the state of affairs set forth above, it was inevitable that the first objective set by the Law was that of clarification: if the analysis revealed that the existing chaos was the result of the ineffectiveness of an educational system that was forced to care, in completely overwhelmed centers, for a demand as heterogeneous as disoriented, and that this was largely a consequence of the lack of a basic musical culture, which society clearly demanded, the first step in clarification could not be other than that of guaranteeing a minimum musical training through the obligatory presence of Music in the curricula corresponding to general education, in a similar way, with the same intensity and at the same levels -primary and oblugatory secondary- in which it has been taught, for many years, in all the countries of the current European Union, and with an important qualitative differentiation with respect to the previous system: that of the requirement of the necessary musical specialization to the teachers in charge of imparting it in Primary Education.
Next, and in the certainty that this generalized basic musical instruction would not be sufficient to care for a deeper training demand, although logically smaller than before, the Law clearly differentiates the professional/non-professional double track indicated in the Decree of 1966, but sending the latter to the Schools of Music (art. 39.5), thus leaving the conservatories and authorized centers free for a redefinition as centers dedicated exclusively to professional education, which is carried out in the Royal Decree 389/1992, of April 15 (art. 9), which establishes the minimum requirements for centers that provide artistic education.
This puts an end -at least on paper- to the ceremony of confusion prevailing up to that moment: in a giant leap, the previously only access route to musical training, centered on the conservatories, opens in three different itineraries: general education, obligatory for a wide range of ages; vocational education, reserved for those students who, in addition to being at an ideal age, demonstrate the interest and aptitude necessary to undertake studies of such high specialization; and, halfway between the two, that of non-regulated education, but of quality, open to all citizens who wish it, without any age limitation.
As if this were not enough, and given the immense difficulty involved in the unavoidable simultaneous performance for many years -because of the ideal ages mentioned above- of general education and specific music education of a professional nature, the Law still opens up a series of shortcuts that facilitate the way for students: thus, access to the different sections of the studies is liberalized (art. 40), as no requirement is required other than passing a test to enter any course of the elementary and intermediate levels, as well as to start the superior, without therefore being necessary to have studied and officially passed the previous courses, and the educational Administrations are entrusted (art. 41.1) with the adoption of the appropriate coordination measures regarding the organization and academic implementation of general and musical studies, explicitly establishing two of these coordination measures: validations and the creation of integrated centers.

Consistent with all of the above, the Law establishes the full inclusion of musical education in the system, granting the higher degree the equivalence, for all purposes, to the title of University Graduate (art. 42.3), and -what is particularly important in relation with the content of this session- the possibility of obtaining the Bachelor's Degree by those students who have completed the third cycle of the middle grade and pass the common subjects of the Baccalaureate (art. 41.2).
This provision is developed in Royal Decree 756/1992, of June 26, which establishes the basic aspects of the curriculum of the elementary and middle grades of music education, in whose third additional disposition it is determined that the validations provided in the Law may refer both to the areas and subjects of general and musical education, as well as to optional subjects of secondary education and Baccalaureate, granting the educational Administrations the competence to establish the latter, as well as to regulate, within the scope of its powers, the curricular adaptations aimed at facilitating the simultaneity of both studies that are deemed appropriate. Next, a status of legal nature is given to the Baccalaureate in Music, made up of the subjects of the third cycle of the middle grade of the corresponding specialty and, in addition, only -and I emphasize the adverb with special emphasis-, the common subjects of the Baccalaureate.
With said Royal Decree, a new Baccalaureate modality is therefore created, that of Music, which, once the third cycle of the intermediate level has been implemented, may be studied with the same legal rank as the four modalities (Arts, Nature and Health Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Technology) established in the LOGSE In relation to this new modality, and as is the case with its twin sister, that of Dance, the future orientations of a higher nature that the students will be able to choose have yet to be determined, although it seems evident that they will have to shine with their own light, in addition to the specific musical studies corresponding to the higher degree, the musical specialization of the Teaching studies and the studies related to the Degree in History and Sciences of Music within the university specialty of Art History.
This new Baccalaureate modality is especially important, because by limiting the general regime studies only to common subjects, the teaching time dedicated to them is so clearly reduced that this will have to result in an ideal temporary availability for attending classes and the study at home both of the instrumental specialty itself and of the other theoretical and theoretical-practical subjects of the third cycle of the middle grade, considerably intense and complex already in this formative stage, all the more so since it is the one that directly precedes the access to higher education studies.

A simple examination of the current regulations (see table 1) allows us to foresee that the situation could not be more favorable for the students who can benefit from this new modality of Baccalaureate: the 12 hours of common subjects in the first year, and the 10 hours in the second, make it possible for the total weekly teaching time of the students not to exceed 21 hours in the first year and 19 in the second, in the case of the symphonic specialties, always more charged with teaching time due to the obligatory subject of Orchestra during the middle grade. Naturally, the dedication outside the center to these subjects by the student will have to be very intense, but it must be remembered that the total weekly teaching load of the Baccalaureate, in any of the other modalities, is 30 hours.

Without being so spectacular, the hourly figures on Compulsory Secondary Education will also experience a notable decrease once the coordination between the general regime teachings and those of the special regime provided for in the Law has been regulated. 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 that would release the area of Music and elective subject to students who were in the middle grade of Music and Dance, as well as the Physical Education area to the latter.
Of course, the aforementioned curricular adaptations would be meaningless if they were not accompanied by coordination between the two teachings which, although in the case of integrated centers it will not suppose the slightest problem, could be a source of organizational conflicts when each one of them they take place in a different center. For this reason, the set of measures aimed at facilitating the simultaneity of studies adopted so far is completed with that established in the third additional disposition of the Organic Law of participation, evaluation and the government of educational centers (LOPEG), according to which "those students who simultaneously study regulated music or dance studies and general education will have priority for admission in the centers that provide such general education that the educational Administration determines." Which, naturally, has no other objective than to make possible a total time coordination between both centers; it would be useless to free Baccalaureate students from 20 hours a week, if this is not accompanied by the concentration of common subjects in a time slot that would also free them from their physical presence in the Institute, for the benefit of the attending classes at the conservatory and, what is equally important, the work to be done at home.

Undoubtedly, the necessary coordination between the two centers will be complex, at least during the first years of the new academic organization. Aspects such as those related to tutorials, evaluation or, simply, the completion of the Grade Book or Books will require a more or less long natural phase of adaptation to the new situation, for whose follow-up the Inspection Services of the different Administrations will have to also submit to a prior information process that allows them to "acclimatize" to the new situation, if it is to be assessed correctly.
For all these reasons, the integrated center is emerging as the ideal model. Based on the provisions for this type of educational center in Royal Decree 389/1992, of April 15, which establishes the minimum requirements for centers that provide artistic education, and the curricular adaptation that is currently in development phase by the Technical Department of Music and Performing Arts of the General Subdirectorate of Artistic Education, the integrated centers will not require, for their creation and start-up, more than the consequent adaptation of the remaining complementary aspects of the aforementioned regulations (organic regulation, evaluation, grade book, etc.).
Now, whether the simultaneous teaching is carried out in two different centers or in one, the current situation of musical studies forces us to pose a problem that, at this point in my intervention, is as inevitable as it is necessary to put on the table.
Although the regulation of general education requires that, in its obligatory section, the Law itself establishes the ages at which the different training stages that it consists of must be taken, the same does not happen with the rest of the teachings of the system, among which those of the special regime of Music and Dance are included. At most, the Law cannot pass, for these, to refer to "the ideal age" as one of the criteria that must be taken into account for the admission of students. Consequently, it is left to the educational Administrations -which, in turn, can delegate to the centers themselves- the power to establish or not age limits for access to the different degrees and courses of the same. And even if one acts in this sense with the utmost sanity and with a vision of the future, the most that seems reasonable to reach in said limitation is the establishment of an age range between which priority is given -talent and aptitudes apart- to students who wish to access these studies.
As a consequence, students of very different ages can coincide in access to the first year of middle level. The current statistics are terrifying in this sense, but eloquent, and show how far our conservatories are from having become aware of the new situation: in the Conservatory where I teach, the ages of access to this level have changed, since its implementation: between 12 and 29 years old in the 1995-96 academic year; between 12 and 41 years old in the 1996-97; between 12 and 45 years old in the 1997-98; and between 12 and 46 years in the present course. Which, translated into simultaneous general regime studies, offers a wide range of possibilities: from the student whose age coincides, in an almost utopian way, with that considered ideal for integrated education, to the one who is closer to retirement than to the Baccalaureate (see table nº 2). Note that in all cases the number of students whose ages coincide for both teachings is far from being the majority, ranging from 2 to 11%.

The statistics referring to the only existing integrated center in the so-called "MEC territory" are especially eloquent. Located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, it reports directly to the Community of Madrid, and since its creation in 1994, it has focused on simultaneity between primary education and the elementary level of Music, rigorously applying the "correct" correspondence between the ages and courses of both teachings. As a consequence of this, it currently has barely a hundred students, of which the majority belong to the elementary grade, while only eight are simultaneously in the first course of the intermediate grade, which began in said center in the current academic year, and the 1st year of Obligatory Secondary Education. Although here these figures do coincide 100% with the corresponding "correct" ages, the low enrollment that derives from that requirement forces us to question the very viability of the center, if a similar situation is maintained continuously.
Without doubting that the academic structure established in the Law for Obligatory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate in relation to the intermediate level of Music and Dance has its ideal framework of realization in the same age range, the low degree of musical "civilization" of current Spanish society -and, certainly, of the next few years- recommends that a transitory solution be adopted until both schools, students and parents become aware of it, since everything points to the fact that, if carried out rigorously, the parallelism between the ages at which the courses considered equivalent to both teachings "should" be taken, it does not seem that in the near future the number of students who could benefit from the curricular adaptations currently under study will ever be high. For this reason, in the opinion of the technical team of which I am a part, it is not reasonable, today, to take rigor to that extreme; because, in any case, students who, in addition to general education, attend the intermediate level of music will always be in a clear position of advantage with respect to the knowledge related to the area of music in Secondary Education. Therefore, we do not see why the integration of both teachings cannot be made more flexible, within logical margins, so that the largest possible number of students can benefit from it.
The proposal that, in this sense, has been prepared by the General Subdirectorate of Artistic Education, has been formulated in a first draft of Royal Decree that only a few hours ago has been delivered for study to the commission of experts of the different Autonomous Communities. Said draft establishes the aforementioned margin of flexibility between the correspondences between the ages in a maximum of two years of difference (in less) between the secondary education course and that corresponding to the average degree of Music or Dance that the student was doing. simultaneously.
In Table 3 we can see the different situations that this will give rise to.

Although this would not pose major problems for Obligatory Secondary Education, with regard to Baccalaureate, a profound modification of what has been established up to now would be necessary (which could also be carried out in this Royal Decree, since it is a basic rule for the whole State). Remember that the Baccalaureate is already linked from the Law itself with the third cycle of the middle grade, and that the proposed two-year gap would extend this link to the second cycle. In any case, students who find themselves in the limit situation would have a maximum of four years to obtain the Bachelor's Degree in Music, which are the same now established for obtaining the Bachelor's Degree in any of the other modalities, with which the necessary modifications are more formal than substantive.
Once this flexibility in ages has been achieved, it would be feasible for both the general education centers coordinated with those for music education, and those integrated centers themselves, to have a number of students from both educations that would allow them to train a minimum of one or two units, depending on the course, made up entirely of students enrolled in both courses, in the coordinated centers of general education (which would give a total of between 160 and 320 students), and those deemed appropriate in the integrated centers, according to their ability. In the case of the former, the time organization of the groups made up in this way would be much easier, and the advantages derived from it could be extended to a high percentage of middle grade students.
Lastly, I believe that it is necessary to keep in mind that under the generic name of integrated centers there may be room for different models which, although they all share the common core that supposes the simultaneity of general and specialized education, have objectives that diverge in terms of the degree of professionalism. In this sense, it is worth noting that the most musically civilized European countries -and not all- have thought it opportune not to generalize them, but rather to reduce them to a very limited number of such centers (only one, in many cases), but of a very high level that marks, in turn, some particularly rigorous admission exams, in accordance with the objective of high qualification to address the pursued higher professional studies. The opposite, that is, the massive creation of this type of center, could result in a rapid devaluation of the quality of the teachings imparted, which could be a consequence, first, of the attenuation in the rigor for access to them derived of their generalization -that is: of the need to fill them-, and cause, later, of a drop in the level of technical and artistic qualification that, today, requires a formative stage -that of the middle grade- of unquestionable importance for the professional future.
Thank you very much for your attention.

January 1999