For students in Years 1–10 in Queensland, Australia, The Arts (hereafter referred to as ‘arts’) is one of eight Key Learning Areas in the core curriculum. Yet, while arts – comprising five strands including music – is a mandatory component of the curriculum, implementation varies widely. This occurs for a range of reasons, one of which is the common practice that generalist teachers are allocated delivery of the arts programme in their teaching load. Furthermore, research reveals that music and the arts are frequently considered to be the ‘frills subject’ in a school's timetable, often the first to be removed from the timetable when time is short and the first to feel the impact of budget cuts, including the engagement of specialist arts educators (Russell-Bowie, 2004). This study highlights the gap between policy rhetoric for music and the arts and the pedagogical reality in generalist classrooms. Using a narrative informed case study methodology, a story constellation derived from a beginning generalist teacher and a school principal is revealed. The discussion which follows provides a focus, through the generation of key values statements derived from the data, on the tensions this beginning teacher has experienced in his practice as a teacher responsible for teaching music and the arts, juxtaposed with a similar narrative of the school principal.
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