Policy goals stipulated by the Ministry of Education of the post-colonial government of Malawi advocate music education and inclusion of indigenous music in education. In spite of such stipulations, music education is non-practical and the integration of indigenous music in education is unsatisfactory. This thesis attempts to address these issues while focusing on the meaning and purpose of music to Malawians. The thesis begins by tracing the history of music in classroom education in Malawi from 1875 to the present with an attempt to investigate the factors that have contributed to the current crisis in music in schools. This historical-ethnographic study sets out to demonstrate that the ideals and practices of foreign religions as well as Western education denied indigenous music of Malawians a place in classroom education as well as inside and outside the church or the mosque. The thesis strives to portray the consequences of this denial on issues of purpose, outcome, content, methodology and support for music education; trends in indigenous music in ethnic societies; policy goals and statements of music education in the Malawian education; and attitude towards music and music education. Adopting the approaches of both musicology and ethnomusicology, the thesis discusses the role played by indigenous music in ethnic societies and the rationalised views of this music as provided by the musically informed native Malawian practitioners. This discussion further demonstrates how indigenous music structures reflect the social realities of Malawians such as the sharing of resources and theories of life. The thesis argues musical issues that would be the basis for remedying the crisis in music education. A philosophical proposition for modern music education, and the significance of indigenous music in classroom education are argued. An introduction to music education that promotes the use of indigenous music in study and performance is suggested. Sources relied on in the thesis include published and unpublished studies of music and music education; audio/video recordings; and field research undertaken to obtain information about existing indigenous music and their knowledge systems known in Malawian ethnic societies, but not yet covered by existing publications.