Music in Japan is more than learning how to sing like in American schools, they actually learn how to play instruments namely the recorder and a pianika. A pianika is about twelve inches long, four inches wide, with a piano keyboard that is held vertically (or horizontally in some cases) and played like an accordion keyboard. It is powered by wind through a long plastic tube on one end.
From first grade, students are taught how to read music, play songs with the pianika, recorder, and some other instruments, and sing songs like the school song. To be more specific on reading music, first graders are taught how to count the beats in a measure, the concept of rests, and the timing of notes. Each year, the lessons will build on one another successively.
There was two pieces of information that I thought was very interesting. The first is that students learn how to write music notation after hearing a few notes and the second is that they are also expected to identify a pitch or note that the teacher has played on the piano. It makes me wonder if this is why there are so many young pop singers cropping up in Japan…
I think that this is pretty neat and I would’ve enjoyed learning more about music than learning how to read a music sheet or sing a song. Its a shame that those who are taught how to play instruments are only those who pass the music listening tests held during the beginning of the school year.
Lastly, schools in Japan also have marching bands from elementary schools and on. Students receive extra instructions on how to play instruments, play in school functions, and school sporting events. What I do not know for certain is if there are marching band competitions in Japan or if they have color guards (i.e. the flagbearers/dancers) in their band.