Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Music



First Advisor

Alan L. Spurgeon

Second Advisor

Donald Trott

Third Advisor

Andrew Paney

Relational Format



The rich and internationally respected Jamaican music culture has been influenced by the system of music education that exists in the country. Public school and college level music education programs in particular have provided the opportunity for students to have an early exposure to music and to pursue a career in music. However, the multitude of opportunities to study and pursue music did not always exist in Jamaica. The goal of this study is to examine the history of music education in Jamaica with particular focus on such influences as British colonialism, the African Diaspora, Jamaican folk music and Jamaican popular music. A secondary goal of the study is to examine the parallels between Jamaica and more affluent countries like England and other British influenced countries in the development of music education. By the end of the 19th century, music had become a part of the school curricula in countries known as the Commonwealth Caribbean, which included Jamaica. Because Jamaica was a British colony, there was a strong British influence on the Jamaican education system. Singing was the primary musical presence in Jamaican schools, and most of the folk music from the Afro-Jamaican population was deemed as unworthy to be included in the school curricula. Since independence in 1962 to the 21st century, the culture of music education has changed to include much more Jamaican folk and popular music. This cultural shift can be attributed in part to the influence of such institutions as the Edna Manley College School of Music, the Mico University College, and Alpha Boys' School. With the use of narrative methodology and analysis of primary and secondary sources, this dissertation traces the history of how the system of music education that exists today, became established in Jamaican schools.



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