Shoka (Subject) (唱歌 (教科))

Shoka (music) is one of the subjects in the former ordinary and higher elementary schools. It corresponds to the present music as a subject.


With the promulgation of the school system in 1872, it was set up as a subject in elementary schools. However, it was just an imitation of foreign systems, and a titular subject with a note saying that for the time being this subject would not bet practiced.
It was because there were neither teachers who teach it nor teaching materials
Even under the subsequent Education Order, the Revised Education Order and Elementary School Order, it did not become a required subject.

Therefore, the Monbusho (Ministry of Education) established Ongaku Torishirabe-Gakari (later Tokyo Music School) at the instance of Shuji IZAWA. First of all, a "collection of elementary school songs" was edited by Shuji IZAWA and MASON. Many of the songs were foreign songs with Japanese words such as "Chocho", "Hotaru no Hikari", and "Aogebatotoshi". In 1886 it was decided that no textbooks for elementary schools should be adopted without the authorization of the Minister of Education, and for the time being privately-provided textbooks came to be adopted according to this regulation. From about 1888 privately-published collections of shoka appeared.

At the beginning there were many foreign songs, but songs composed by Japanese composers like Rentaro TAKI increased in number. In 1907 it became a required subject at last with the Revised Elementary School Order. On this occasion the "Fundamental Principles of Elementary School Rules" of the Monbusho Order ruled that "the goal of shoka is enabling students to sing plain songs, and at the same time to cultivate a sense of beauty and to develop virtue." In 1910 the Monbusho compiled "Jinjo Shogakko Tokuhon Shoka (song book for elementary schools) ". The greatest feature of this book was that all the songs were composed by Japanese. Thereafter, in shoka classes both Monbusho-written textbooks and privately published textbooks that passed the authorization of the Minister of Education were used concurrently.

Since then shoka had been taught in schools for thirty years. In 1941 with the enforcement of the National School Order, shoka developed into the geinoka (entertainment course) music.

[Original Japanese]