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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The Correlation between the Decline of the Religious Orders and the Decline of Music in Secondary Schools
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Music Education
Supervisor(s): John O'Flynn & Gareth Cox
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: 2003
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Mary Immaculate College, UL
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (115pp.)
Abstract: This thesis explores the contributions made by the religious to music education in girls' voluntary secondary schools. Recently, there has been a major decline in the number of vocations to religious orders and so the future of the extent of religious involvement in schools is in doubt. Previously, the religious accounted for a high percentage of the
managers and teachers in voluntary secondary schools whereas now, religious orders are preparing for a time when they may no longer be part of many of the schools that they originally founded. Their influence over the years has had many facets but the religious always paid particular attention to music. Before music became a common subject in schools the religious taught it as a subject and established choirs and orchestras in their schools as
well as giving students the opportunity to learn an instrument and perform in public concerts or musicals. One particular area of interest is the extent to which the religious provided instrumental lessons free of charge. Many students that studied music in schools would not have had that opportunity were it not for the voluntary contributions made by the religious. Currently, some students may not be in a position to avail of the opportunity to learn an instrument because of their financial circumstances.
This thesis is in two parts. In the literature review, the general history of education in Ireland and the involvement of the religious in education is assessed with particular reference to single-sex education. The main area of interest, of course, is girls' voluntary secondary schools and the emphasis placed on the Arts, in particular music. Issues relating to the Junior and Leaving certificate curricula are considered and recent changes to these curricula are discussed. Part two consists of a survey of eighteen schools. Principals and music teachers were interviewed and a questionnaire was completed during the meeting. Questions relating to previous and current religious involvement are foremost in the questionnaire for principals. Other topics include the history of and recent changes to school music as
well as participation rates at junior and senior level. The variety of instrumental lessons available and the history of instrumental teaching in the school are also examined. The area of extra curricular activities and the extent to which these are timetabled is the final area for examination in the principals' questionnaire. The teachers' questionnaire is concerned with their impressions of music in the school prior to their appointment as music teacher. The questionnaire also seeks the opinions of the music teachers on the contributions and involvement of the religious to music in their schools.
The results of the two surveys are presented separately in various graphs and tables and the findings are then discussed. Any co-relating material is examined. Where possible, the findings of the surveys arc co-related to the findings of the literature review. Finally, conclusions are made and there are suggestions for further study.

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