Spring Holiday : Dieter Mack Lecture of Indonesian Music Education

Hello all! ひさしぶり!!

Now the spring holiday had ended and almost all the Sakura in Tokyo had fallen down, really-really fast. Seems like it was yesterday when I packed my suitcase and fly back to Indonesia for spring holiday. But now I’m back at Umegaoka Dormitory, writing this, after finishing my research presentation for tomorrow, well it’s time to fight again in this Spring Semester! 😉

Now i want to tell you about a little glimpse of my holiday in Indonesia. During that comparatively short time actually I learned something big by attending a lecture of music conducted by Professor Dieter Mack at Indonesian University of Music together with my Klabklassik fellows. Ok let me explain one by one!


So first, Klabklassik is a community that i follow in Bandung. Klab comes from club and klassik from classical music. At first it was bunch of people that love classical music and mainly all of them were instrument player as well. But as the community grows more and more activities and people were involved in this community. From conducting classical music concert with local and international performer, creating guitar ensemble named Ririungan Gitar Bandung (Ririungan means getting together, it’s Sundanese language), music discussion (not only classcal music), watching movies together, hearing sessions, etcetera. Please visit here to know more about this community 🙂

I have been actively involved in this community since i was in the second grade of high school. And i learned a lot definitely! 🙂

Second, Professor Dieter Mack is a professor from Germany with the field of music as well as musicologist and composer. He has special interest on Indonesian music especially Gamelan Bali. From 1990s he had traveled back and forth from Germany to Indonesian, firstly to study Gamelan Bali until he had earned a quite big role at creating and renewing Indonesian school music education. And that day he was also talking about Indonesian school music education.

My bestfriend (actually the founder of Klabklassik) Syarif told me that Dieter Mack’s lectures were always inspiring, especially with his really distinctive Indonesian language. And he was true, I was really inspired by this lecture! 🙂 Here is the english summary of the lecture, if you would like to read the Indonesian version please go here and found the same article written by me.




Sometimes it is very pitiful that although Indonesia as a country really has a musical diversity coming from its numerous region, music education in school at Indonesia is still considered cannot fully teach a musical competency that comes from Indonesia’s own musical diversity. Before all the curriculum’s renewing happened, student were mainly only taught about western music. Studying western music is also valuable but wouldn’t it be better if it contains Indonesian local music?

Professor Dieter Mack giving Lecture


Some question aroused with Indonesia’s great diversity of music, is it better for the student to learn about almost all kind of music of Indonesia or to specialize on local music according to where they live? Responding to this, Professor Dieter Mack think that it is better for the student to gain music education regarding his/her own area’s local music. Wondering why he thinks so?


Firstly, music is a part of art, something related to local value, it can be highly different between area. Music is like a yin to yang compared to science which is universal. Secondly, the main purpose of education in school is actually to give model or to simulate things that can be further studied by the student. In any field of education, it is impossible to give all lesson to the student so that’s why modeling or simulating approach is considered to be the best.

Thirdly, local music based education is the best approach to fulfill the main goal of music education, reaching music competency. Let’s take an example of gamelan (a kind of Indonesian traditional music). Studying one kind of gamelan from one area with simple media that can give student musical experience worth a lot more than studying all kind of gamelan in Indonesia. Those kind of learning method that study all the kind of gamelan in Indonesia is only appreciation form towards diversity or even only contains cultural information, which cannot increase the musical competency of student.

What is actually a musical competency? Musical competency consists of tone, music form, rhythm,  etcetera. Those kind of understanding can be approached even using simple media when the exact instrument is not available. For example, imitating the rhythm pattern of each instrument inside gamelan orchestra from the teacher. To know the note range, teacher can also use bottles filled with water (with different height of water) to imitate the higher and lower notes. The presence of audio and visual media would be very beneficial for the learning, however the form of imitating should be included in every kind of music education.

According to Learning Sequences of Music a book written by Edwin E. Gordon, imitating is the most natural learning form, also called figural knowledge. Figural knowledge learning process is analogous with filling in “drawer” in your brain by imitating, just like baby’s speaking learning process. At this stage, music education given is still not connected with each other. Up next after the figural knowledge there is a process called formal knowledge. It is analogous with connecting each information of the “drawer” in your brain with some exact form. A music learning process using those two methods is considered to give student better understanding and music competency  compared to cognitively based education.


Another message that we learned from Professor Dieter Mack that day was on conducting music education in Indonesia we should not always depend on curriculum. Curriculum is only the source of information and it should be more flexible to be adjusted according to the student’s needs. If you are willing to be a good music educator, you have to be able to decide creatively about how to deliver the content of education to your student. How educator can deliver the content of education in an appropriate and well adjusted way to its student is really the main key of music education.



With Love



Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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