Sunday, September 2, 2018

sMAG Spring ENews 2018


Victorian Election 2018 Edition

July 12, 2018 Forum - Federation Hall

Key players throughout the music education field gathered at the forum to discuss where we are at now, where to from here, and to celebrate leadership change.
We heard an overview of achievements from the last 4 years from Retired Chair, Catherine Lyons, an oration from Prof. Gary McPherson, and split into conversation groups.
ACHIEVEMENTS
›Over the last 4.5 years, sMAG has submitted to 15 Reviews, contributed to 12 Campaigns, attended various meetings at various auspices and government, and participated in the Music Education Expert Reference Group - MEERG.
›There are up to 8 – 10 different regulator bodies that oversee education: DET, Federal and State Government, VITs, VCAA, VRQA, VAGO, IBAC, Youth Justice system and others in early years.
sMAG Submissions to Reviews & Final Report Responses:
  • ›2014 Federal Review into the Australian Curriculum
  • ›2014 Federal Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Groups (TEMAG) Consultation
  • ›2015 Submission AITSL “Classroom Ready: Demonstrating the Impact on Student Learning of Initial Teacher Education Programs” – Survey
  • ›2015 Submission to the Victorian State Schools Funding Review
  • ›Submission to the Victoria Government Vision for the Education State: Early Childhood Consultation Paper
  • ›2015 Position Paper - Victorian Secondary Instrumental Music Program for the MEERG
  • ›Submission to the Program for Students with Disabilities Review
  • 2015 Submission to the VET Funding Review
    ›Submission to the VIT Permission To Teach Review 2015
  • ›2016 Victorian Early Years Learning And Development Framework
  • ›2016 Review of The Program for Students With Disabilities
  • ›2016 “Working Together to Shape Teacher Education in Victoria”
  • ›2017 Victorian Submission into Youth Detention
  • ›2017 Submission to the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the 58th Parliament of Victoria
    ›2018 Victorian Budget Submissions
sMAG Campaigns:
  • ›2013 Election campaign; social media and letter writing to all candidates
  • ›Supported the 2014 Music Trust ‘Full Deal’ Campaign
  • ›Campaign to both Liberal and Labor parties to adopt the 17 Recs in early 2014
  • ›2015 Amuse Sounds Great Conference Forum
  • ›2016 AEU Collaborative campaign: VIT PTT
  • ››2016 Federal Election Campaign
  • ›2016 SIMP Funding Model
  • ›2016 Victorian Budget
  • ›2017 Music Australia Delegation to Federal Parliament Campaign
  • ›2018 Regional Forum – Geelong
  • ›2018 Victorian Budget
  • ›2018 VCAA Letter writing campaign
  • ›2018 Election Campaign launch – July.
The Music Education Expert Reference Group - MEERG:
 
Over the life of the MEERG several members of the sMAG committee contributed by attending the meetings and joining the conversations.  We  have seen many new initiatives put in place by the Victorian Andrews’ government and DET.  Many of the initiatives have been wholly completed by substantive Music education bodies and associated industry partners.
Some include:
  • ›Music PD at the Bastow – free to the public
  • ›Vic government Music in Schools vision (2015-2018)
  • ›Instrumental Music Grants ($400,000); a total of 87 primary schools (metropolitan and rural/regional) were allocated up to $5,000 and purchased over 2,000 music related resources, including musical instruments, music books, and accessories.
  • ›Delivery of Musical Futures Australia Programs ($1.6m); 1,118 teachers from 700 government and non-government schools, and 874 pre-service teachers have participated in MFA professional learning programs (August 2015 to 30 April 2018). 43% of schools (300) are located in regional areas.
  • ›National Music Teacher Mentoring Program 2018 Seven teachers are mentoring 15 teachers across participating schools including one new mentor based in Warrnambool.
  • ›Quality Music Education Framework (QMEF) The QMEF is now available on the DET website:  www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/arts/Pag es/QMEF.aspx
  • ›Strategic Partnerships Program   https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/partnerships.aspx#link41  
The SIMP
During the life of the MEERG, sMAG representatives have put forward significant discussion to DET around the SIMP.  The high value of the program was highlighted, data and evidence on delivery and outcomes, as well as a proposed Strategic Leadership Architecture to see the program grow and thrive.
At this point, little if any progress has been made towards improving SIMP delivery, nor resolving complex industrial dispute matters.
As such, a significant portion of future work, and election campaigns need to keep the SIMP as a key focus.
Any teachers delivering the SIMP and have concerns around their employment conditions are advised to seek support from the AEU.
 
sMAG Facebook Group
VICTORIAN ELECTION NOVEMBER 2018

Victorian Election - Music Education Charter
https://www.change.org/p/smag-vic-victorian-election-music-education-charter

The Victorian Election - Music Education Charter is now published on Change.org. Please log on and sign so we can get thousands of signatures to bring the campaign to all election candidates.
With around 90 days before the State election, we need people to sign the petition: A healthy 4 years of growth, needs another 4 years to solidify Music in EVERY school. The Charter looks to the 17 recommendations for direction.  sMAG has analysed what has been achieved over the last 4 years, discussed at the forum and now presents what needs to happen in a new Victorian Government Term.  No matter who wins the election, we need to build on the last 4 years to see continuous growth.
 
Press 'like' and 'share' on all platforms,
and see our campaign grow!
Forum Footage - July 12, 2018
Retired Chair, Catherine Lyons, opens the forum, and Prof Gary McPherson provides part 1 of his speech.
CANDIDATE LETTER WRITING
Every candidate in your electorate will need a personalised letter
Find the addresses and candidates on the Victorian Electoral Commission Website.
https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/CandidatesAndParties/CurrentRegisteredParties.html
Use the tempalte below, and personalise your letter.
TO YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATE
Your Name
Your Address
Your Phone and Email

Date

The Candidate name
Their address
Their phone or email if known

Dear (insert name),

I would like to express my appreciation of the work involved, and the subsequent report and recommendations following the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education in Victoria.       
http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/etc/article/1965.  I was also very pleased around the work accomplished by DET, the 2014 – 2018 Victorian Andrews Government and the DET Music Education Expert Reference Group to date, and request/implore any newly elected Victorian government continue the work as outlined on change.org https://www.change.org/p/smag-vic-victorian-election-music-education-charter

In writing to you I am seeking your commitment to ensuring the implementation of the Music Education Inquiry recommendations continue, should you be elected as member of the Victorian parliament on Saturday November 24, 2018.  For the next term of government that support means:
 
  • Any newly elected government deliver on the clear aspiration of the last Parliament that music learning is an ‘integral part of every child’s education’ and is delivered by an expertly trained teacher - this means the teacher has a specialist degree in Music Education.
  • Ensure that the newly elected government commits to the development and implementation of a strategic plan that provides a sustainable basis for music education in Victorian schools built upon P - 8 classroom (whole-of-class) delivery and Secondary Instrumental Music Program (SIMP).  Whole of class provides a foundational understanding according to the curriculum.  SIMP provides specific instrumental education towards VET/VCAL/VCE outcome requirements.
  • Call on the government to appoint a music education specialist as director in an ongoing capacity the DET Music Education Team and Working Party that oversees the implementation of the Inquiry recommendations thereby acknowledging the high priority of this initiative in the eyes of an Victorian public.
  • Include as policy accountability structures for principals and schools under these teams, as this measure provides more surety of delivery and 
recognition of the high priority of this initiative, particularly in the implementation of the Secondary Instrumental Music Program (SIMP).
  • Provide sufficient funding and resources for principals and schools to provide music education to all their students 

  • Support the many students who currently miss out on whole of class (Primary)  and SIMP (Secondary)  music education get the education and opportunities they deserve by advocating that sufficient funding and resources for principals and schools are provides so that quality music education be made available to all students in all schools
  • Work in partnership with the Commonwealth government, according to the recommendations coming from the Review of 
the Australian curriculum, as it seeks to introduce compulsory music education into all schools across Australia. 


[Insert briefly why you consider music to be important, what is happening in your local area and, if you are a parent say that it is your expectation that music education be part of your child’s learning while at school]

With significant progress made against the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education in Victoria 17 recommendations,  during the Andrews' government term, it is time to build further to ensure all recommendations are fulfilled, particularly Recommendations 13 -17.    While investment into the SIMP is high, the funding only provides for 17% of students.  We need to aim for at least 70% in the next term of government, and then 100% in any succeeding government.     it is now time that action is taken to provide breadth, depth and quality so that all students attending Victorian state schools have the opportunity to learn and engage with music.  You will see that many have signed the petition on change.org and agree that we need more to be done to reach every child with an expert music education: https://www.change.org/p/smag-vic-victorian-election-music-education-charter

I wish you well in the upcoming campaign and trust that you and your party will make a comprehensive and unambiguous statement in support of music education on behalf of the children and parents of Victoria in the weeks and days ahead.

Kind Regards/Yours sincerely,

Retirement

After 4.5 years as Chair of sMAG, Catherine handed over the baton to Mrs. Fiona Phillips and Ms. Susan Buchan. Mr. Carl Williams was inducted as Vice Chair as Sarina Iacono's retirement was also celebrated. Thanks were sincerely shared particularly to the long serving committee members. The work sMAG completes is all voluntary. All members of the team have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  We are all indebted to the sMAG teams and thank each and every person for their tireless service. We are all indebted to the inaugural Chair, Dr. Anne Lierse.
MESSAGE FROM CATHERINE:
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to everyone who has supported and contributed to our vision that every child in Victorian schools has access to a quality music education that is taught by professionally trained teachers. This is in-line with the recommendations from the National Review of Music Education (2005) which was the catalysis for the Victorian Music Workshop (2007) and the subsequent formation of sMAG which then led to the Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education in public Schools 2013.
Over the last 4.5 years we have seen great inroads made towards achieving this vision.  However, we are not there yet.  sMAG must not rest until 100% of Victorian public school students have access to a quality Music Education.  It has been my sincere pleasure to lead the Music Education community in efforts across sectors to improve outcomes for the Victorian State.  I look forward to liaising with the new Co-Chairs, and Vice Chair as needed to see a successful election campaign, and an ongoing upward trajectory of growth in the sector.

sMAG is  supported by our Ambassadors for the School Music Action Group 
Professor Brian Caldwell
The Honourable Barry Jones AC FAA FACE FAHA FASSA FTSE
Mr Jonathon Welch AO
 and Mr. Bob Spencer - The Angels.

sMAG has been supported by the following organisations:
Association of Music Educators
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
The Music Council of Australia
Victorian Opera
Australian Council of Educators
Victorian Music Teachers Association
Music Matters
Association of Directors of Music in independent schools.

sMAG also has the endorsement of the following organisations:
Australian Music Association
Australian Society for Music Education (Victorian Chapter)
Australian String Association (Victorian Chapter)
The Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia (Victorian Branch)
Musica Viva in Schools
Musical Futures
The Soundhouse Music Alliance
The Music Trust
The Song Room
Victorian Orff Schulwerk Association

No finances are garnished from any organisation, and no conflict of interest can be claimed. sMAG operates with an even hand, and remains un-financial in order to be an impartial representative of all voices in the field.
 
Catherine and Sarina will be available for consultation.
Catherine will continue to assist with social media.
Copyright © 2018 sMAG VIC, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O Box 4076, Box Hill South

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

sMAG ENews – Toughish Stuff


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Just wanting to acknowledge your patience as readers of the ENews is delivered over a few shorter bursts.  My recovery after the car bingle, continues slowly, and so far progress is steady.  Allowing me to write in short bursts assists, so thank you. Where in the last ENews, there was consistent analogies drawn around the world’s oceans and seas, I will use farming analogies through todays publication.

Australia has a variety of landscapes, with differing farming harvests.  Farms in some areas harvest a bounty, and other areas of land are sandy resulting in poor returns.  Such an analogy can paint a picture for Music delivery across the field.  For a whole generation in Victoria, particularly in the 1990s, Music Education delivered by a specialist teacher was denied to public school students.  This decade in Victoria, brought funding cuts that decimated music education delivery – creating a vacuum, or desert in some regions where little could grow.  Culture, knowledge and an inheritance were denied to so many children.  These youngsters are adults now, and so we have a generation of people who ‘do not know, what they don’t know’.  Thankfully, some are willing to learn.

Over only 4 years, the music education sector has received funding from the Victorian Andrew’s government with whom Music Education has found favour.  The rocks and boulders in the desert have started to be pushed aside.  Whatever your political allegiances, and whatever your opinion of Musical Futures, the organization has been brave enough to roll through the desert and turn the soil.  The process has pushed huge boulders out of the way, and carried a heavy load.  Ian Harvey has travelled to every corner of Victoria personally, to convince school principals that a music education is needed.  To convince principals who may have never received a music education themselves, and can’t see the benefit.  Yet, he has convinced them to start a program. 
Whatever your opinions of the National Music Teacher Mentoring program, the participants have all reported very positive feedback. Seven teachers are mentoring 15 teachers across participating schools including one new mentor based in Warrnambool. Mr. Richard Gill OM led the charge with this program, and worked hard to put it in place.  We must acknowledge the hard work of Mr. Richard Gill AO, and Mr. Ian Harvey in each moving huge boulders in making these two programs move through, and turn the first sod. In reality, these programs do turn the first sod towards generational change. These giants of the Music Education community have been working hard for decades, and have each now seen some result.  Both have broad shoulders, and have carried their story to politicians independently of sMAG.  Each has made these gains in their own right, and have fought for music education for decades longer many of us, particularly involved in the NRSME: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/9459/
We, as a community, owe them our appreciation.
The whole music community, now has the opportunity to move through, and provide to the teaching professionals receiving the benefits from the above, support, networks and resources.  By picking up these thousands of teachers who have received some Professional Learning, the whole community will ‘replenish the land with the nutrients needed to sustain long-term growth’ – so to speak.  Once all the offerings have moved through, finally ‘seed can be sewn’ as the next generation begins to flourish.  And to achieve this, as Fiona Phillips now carries the analogy in her attachment, it must rain – and rain steadily for a long time so that the next generation benefits from ‘a strong harvest’.
Furthermore, the Victorian government in its agenda to build The Education State, has funded the building of many performing arts spaces.  Primary and Secondary schools alike are receiving the benefit of brand new Music, dance and drama facilities all across Victoria.  There are so many, there are too many to name!!!
Wow!!!  We have not seen anything like this for several generations!
We have such an opportunity now, to invest into good soil, and turn the land over, ready to plant – for a harvest to come in around 10 or 20 years time. The societal benefits will be far reaching, if every educator invests in a their space in the education field. Are you a Professional Learning provider? What will you invest into the community?  Are you in Music industry? What can you offer?  What has sport done with industry partners, that Music can now emulate?  Are you a music teacher in a school? How can you inspire, create positivity and get the whole school singing as exampled by Sue Arney in ‘The Singing Classroom’?  -  “A Million Dreams” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rxgAh1bnHU
It’s up to you!    What will you plant?
Initial Teacher Education - ITE

We have seen mixed progress in the tertiary sector in terms of Music Education Specialism delivery.  We celebrate news from the MEERG on the student participation in the University of Melbourne, Masters of Music -  Performance Teaching. Kenna George reported that approximately 35 students are accepted each year with most students opting for specialism - instrumental strings.
Aspiring instrumental teachers have the opportunity to gain a qualification at the University of Melbourne, Conservatorium of Music.  See an introduction from Professor Ian Godfrey on Youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=70&v=Ju5pFmEu2AA.  Specific information may be obtained directly from the website: https://mcm.unimelb.edu.au/study/degrees/master-of-music-performance-teaching/overview . Aspiring music teachers gain the skills and confidence to enter the Secondary Education Sector, or the Studio Music sector.
The Bachelor of Music at the University of Melbourne, Conservatorium of Music offers tremendous opportunities as outlined by Prof. Gary McPherson here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhumZDVS8x4&t=41s Graduates are confident to pursue a professional music career on graduation, or move into the Masters degree already mentioned.
We celebrate delivery and participation at the University of Education, Graduate School of Education Masters Course with a specialization in Arts Education. https://education.unimelb.edu.au/study_with_us/courses/master-of-education/overview/arts-education Many pre service teachers have participated in specialized Music Education training, which is showcased on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Music-Education-At-Melbourne-121801714542789/ Graduates usually gain employment in a classroom setting.
We do have some positive news from Deakin, however we will hold this over until the next ENews, or provide an update at the Forum.  Our incoming Co-Chair, Fiona Phillips, lectures at Deakin and will be able to elaborate in the near future.

As ITE falls under Federal legislation, and having written to the Hon. Mr. Simon Birmingham, we have received a helpful reply.  While aspects of the letter outlined aspects we were already aware of, Mr. Birmingham provided insight into the separation of Federal and State auspice, as well as unpacking some of the regulatory language.
Hon. Mr. Birmingham stated:

“Whilst English/literacy and maths/numeracy have been identified by the Government as national
priority learning areas for primary specialisation, ITE providers are able to provide a specialisation in
any learning area of the primary curriculum, including the arts, if it is an area of employer demand.”

He referred to the AITSL documents, which are also regulatory, outlining clearly that if employers demand staff in a specialism, ITE providers can be persuaded to supply.  While I am not an Oxford scholar, my reading of his letter and the AITSL documents, and my understanding of local school behaviour responding to community demands we have a line of action that can be pursued. It would seem to me that if a local community demands music education delivery, voices and pressures local schools to provide a music education, then principals will be crying out for staff.
Should you have children in a public school, you would do well to write to the Principal, and School Council requesting a Specialist Music Teacher who delivers a whole of class, sequential, continuous and developmental program against the Victorian Curriculum.

Members of the tertiary community may request a copy of the letter to sMAG from the Hon. Mr. Simon Birmingham by return email: smag.schoolmusicactiongroup@gmail.com .  We look forward to what developments Fiona Phillips and Sue Buchan will lead the Music Education community towards with this information now at hand.

After perusing the Hon. Simon Birmingham's letter, I have a hunch.  Would you each please pop this on all social media platforms, as it really showcases Aussie kids, as Music Education kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyzeMg_3CTg


The VCAA Guide to Music Education

As reported in a previous edition of the ENews, we still await the publication of the VCAA Guide to Music Education.  Helen Champion put in countless hours of work in creating the guide.  She invested the time to consult Music Educators around Victoria, and developed a rich resource.  We believe the Music Education community will celebrate the guide when it is published online.  Such a document will engender and support deep and rich Music Education throughout Victoria.
The VCAA will communicate the Guide to Music Education release via their communication usual portals when it goes live.  If you wish to make inquires, you can find the VCAA contact details here: https://www.vic.gov.au/contactsandservices/directory/?ea0_lfz149_120.&organizationalUnit&9ab88530-1d59-47b0-9907-337563fa148e


The SIMP

We have had serious discussions at the MEERG around the SIMP.  The Chair advised that following discussions with the Minister for Education, DET will establish a working group with representatives from each DET region and central office to share best practice and discuss ways to improve the support and coordination for music education. The first meeting will be held in Term 3 2018.  DET will use the new working group to share best practice and consider improvements to the SIMP. The Department will use the new Music Working Group to identify local and regional area PLC (Professional Learning Community) leaders and communication opportunities. Inquires to the new Music Education Team at DET can be directed here:  music.education@edumail.vic.gov.au
Rather than provide a long catch up here, we would prefer to discuss progress in person when we gather at the forum.  Using the farming analogy, farmers always must consider carefully what to plant and sew, according to the current climate. Please encourage colleagues to gather at the forum.  We will break off into sector groups in different rooms and allow a focus and reflection time.

Multicultural Melbourne

Indulge me a little, while I speak of my beautiful city and my own story. We all have a story, and we Aussies love to share our stories. Here is a small portion of mine.
We have in our city, and throughout Victoria, access to the richest cultures of the world from actual members of those cultures.  As a child, I was one of those many thousands of public school students who were denied a music education during those ‘desert like’ decades.  My parents more than made up for it, singing, dancing and playing the records of their English heritage every weekend.  In the ‘village’ where I grew up, the parents of my friends shared the music of their heritage as we all played in the backyards in the summer time.  I learnt to dance ‘The Zorba’ and all about the Bouzouki in one home.  In others, at parties, when the feasting was done, and vino was well drunk, the patriarch of the Italian family would stand up and start to sing Verdi and Rossini. While I was denied a music education in primary school, I learnt of the European greats at the feat of painters, farmers and bricklayers.  You see, Music Education was compulsory in Italy in the 20th century. The leaders knew music would carry the culture through the generations.  Our indigenous people know this, and carry the culture of their people through corroboree, art, music and dance.

We all have an immigration story.  My immigration story impacts on my public secondary school education.  My Grandfather decided to bring the family to Australia after WW2.  During the war, he had served in the British Royal Air Force in the Red Beret.  For the first 3 years, he spied out enemy air attacks, and intercepted enemy messages and forwarded them to Bletchley where Alan Turing was working.  In 1942, when Darwin was attacked, he along with hundreds of thousands of British, was seconded to Australia.  He camped on the MCG with all the Americans, Canadians and other allied forces before being deployed to Darwin to fight the Kamakaze.  While here, The Blitz occurred, and his house was lost.  Before the loss, he was a wealthy man.  So when the offer came to resettle in Australia came, he chose Melbourne. While in Australia, all the generations passed on the culture through the music.  Songs of great strength and character.  A piano was purchased, and we all got to learn.  We played Mozart, and Beethoven, McCartney, and folk songs.  The house was full of music.
Yet, at secondary school, there was no music.  I had to study piano privately to pass the VCE. A new principal came, Dad got on the school council and asked for a Music program, and the school hired someone who offered pop/rock music.  Well, none of the children in this village were interested in 3 chord songs, with only a 4 part band.  All the students were children of Europe’s WW2, and wanted to hear the sounds of cultural greats from Europe – not pop music!  You see presumptions were made. The teacher didn’t research the clientele.

Who do we have in our classrooms now, Victoria?  Many of us have the children of Persia, Arabia and Africa.  Play the Tabla and the djembe.  Ask the young people what they want to hear, and connect them to culture.

On the flip side of this story, I have met musicians from all the top conservatoria of the world here in Melbourne.  During those 1990s when music teachers could not get jobs in schools, I ran a private studio, and was able to hire Moscow conservatorium graduates, guitarists from Spain, and all the best musicians Multicultural Melbourne could offer.  Many would bemoan the cultural musical desert they encountered in their corner of Australia. Slavomir provided a better example, and established the Australian Chopin Society in Melbourne: http://en.chopin.nifc.pl/chopin/institutions/detail/cat/1/id/8   So, if I heard bemoaning after knowing Slavomir, I would kindly ask the question, ‘What of your heritage can you bring to your corner of the music field here in Australia?’  A few have proceeded to inject a little of their rich history into our space.  One has chosen to use his extensive violin skills gained in Austria, and refined in the USA playing behind Bernstein and Pavarotti, by reviewing and reworking violin instrumental examination repertoire.  Another has brought her extensive Russian heritage of piano playing and establishing a summer piano accompaniment festival.
What aspect of your heritage or country of origin can you bring to the field here?  Which of you will form the Melbourne Italian Opera society?  I will be the first to subscribe!!

Let’s all farm this field together, and yield a future harvest. Yet, it must rain ...... ......see article from Fiona Phillips below


EVENT: FORUM


Date: Thursday July 12
Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm
VENUE: Federation Hall - VCA: 234 St Kilda Road, Southbank, Melbourne
https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/venues/federation-hall-victorian-college-of-the-arts/
FOCUS: Victorian Music Education Charter 
Music teachers, SIMP providers, Tertiary lecturers, Music Industry professionals, Performing Musicians and all those interested in Music education are invited to the July Forum. 
Speaker: Prof. Gary Macpherson
Retiring sMAG Chair: Catherine Lyons
New sMAG Co-Chair induction: Ms. Fiona Phillips and Ms. Sue Buchan.
The forum will review the proposed Victorian Music Education Charter for everyone to put to all political candidates. 
Formal hand over of leadership will occur at this event, where reflections over the last 4.5 years will occur and Fiona Phillips and Sue Buchan will be welcomed as new Co-Chairs of sMAG. Mr. Carl Williams will be welcomed as Vice Chair.

sMAG FACEBOOK GROUP.
Networking and supporting one another on Facebook provides for rich sharing at times.  Please join the group, and join the conversations: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1101931139911842/

Kind Regards,
Catherine Lyons
  

Becoming more musical = success.


A story of becoming musical and a letter from a principal’s desk

This is the story of what is possible if a school commits itself to becoming more musical.
The story is of a primary school situated in regional Victoria struggling to become more musical. There were student attendance issues, low staff moral and family connectedness and engagement was sluggish at best. The school had a desire to include more music and had tried a few “one off” NGO offerings. The effort applied to balance the budget and make room for music was intense and exhausting. The goal to include more music and become more musical as a school, was seeming as if it was impossible and defeat had all but set in. It appeared as it music was something that they were not going to be able to do. Some of the generalist staff had undergone professional learning / training or could remember a few things from their ITE studies, but more often than not they had received little or no understanding of how to use music effectively in the classroom and especially in the setting they found themselves in. “It takes time to become musical and not enough time was provided in my ITE” (Heinrich, 2012; Phillips, 2013).

Governments have much evidence (Victorian Government, 2015) in front of them of the benefits of a sequential music program for learning and development, but at an AITSL level they have identified other learning areas as being a focus and this pushes back on the system causing ITE providers to focus on building capacity and skills in the identified areas. The result is a national drought of musically prepared teachers. With very few teachers who had any sort of well from which to draw from in terms of musical knowledge, and who also felt inadequately prepared to implement effective music learning, and with no funds to employ a specialist teacher, all seemed lost. It was into this situation that a place based philanthropic organisation stepped in. The place-based funder had undertaken research and discovered that only 1 in 8 schools in the region had access to a trained music teacher. They had also undertaken research that indicated increasing opportunities for education and participation in music was an effective way of building social capital and improving academic and holistic developmental outcomes. Their goal was to lift these outcomes in the region and therefore increased access to, and participation in, music education became a focus of their funding. Initially the principal was sceptical, but after seeding funds were released and a program was designed and implemented he saw the beginnings of gains across most indicators and was convinced. The program to become more musical has evolved in response to the community. The following is an excerpt from a personal response of thanks to the CEO of the philanthropic organisation.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to write to thank you for your continued support of our school and community and to let you know some recent highlights for us as a school. 
These include
· Our music program is a success that we can all be proud of. Students are eager to be part of this terrific program. Our year 6 students anecdotally report that they have contacts with the secondary college and that this assists with transition. Once at secondary college they are able to immediately join the college’s intermediate band in year 7 and miss the junior band. Our year 6 have also had a number of opportunities to perform alongside secondary students. This is a terrific experience.
· Our academic results are showing continual signs of improvement. This is particularly true for maths. We are continuing to work hard to improve reading outcomes and have a clear evidenced based instructional model in place.
· We are also beginning to see that the integration of a KODALY/ORFF based pedagogical approach to singing and body percussion in the early years might make the best connections to THRASS and continue to lift these areas of spelling, reading and writing. It is a work in progress but this approach has the benefit of including songs from culture and celebrates the diversity in our community.
· Our student attitude to school survey results, a Department of Education and Training survey, (most recent 2017) show very high levels of connectedness with the school. Students report very high levels of agreement with all areas of the survey.
· Our recent survey of staff opinion (2016 and 2017) showed the highest agreement in all areas in more than a decade. This is evidence that our staff are very committed to working as a team to support all students and that we have developed a very supportive staff culture.
· Attendance data has improved significantly in the past 4 years. On average students are now attending about 7 days extra per year. This has continued to further improve in 2018
· Our student numbers have increased in 2017 and 2018. This is the first time in 15 years that enrolment has increased.
· We have strong future plans to work closely with our community to improve outcomes in the Early years.

Not all of this can be attributed to the music program and us 'becoming more musical' but anecdotally this focus on intentionally being more musical and the work to become more musical is the only thing that was introduced over this period and has remained. One of your trustees indicated that it would take time to become more musical and they were right. If you had not stepped in to support us becoming more musical we would never have continued the journey – we couldn’t have begun even - and we would never have experienced and known the benefits of what is continuing to be a more musical and successful place."
This is not the only school for which becoming more musical has equalled success – there are a number of primary schools that have become more musical and have experienced the benefits of this shift. What is significant, and somewhat alarming about this story is that becoming musical had to be funded by a philanthropic organisation. Unfortunately, it is reflective of an on-going climate change in ITE and in education generally resulting in conditions that are sure to end in a musical drought. Cultural institutions are trying to provide ‘bottled water’ and some NGOs disaster relief – if you get my metaphor – but what the regions really need is regular rain. Regular rain in the form of sequential developmental music education that is responsive to children and sensitive to the communities that they live in. It needs to rain locally and for a significant time. We must be diligent and keep encouraging each other to present the message that Music matters. Music not as another letter in a sequence of MMADD or STEAM or MINDFULNESS but music for music’s sake, for it is music and people in a school becoming more musical that has made the difference. Becoming more musical for this school equals success.

Fiona Phillips B Ed, Grad Dip Music Ed, Grad Cert Higher Ed, M Ed by research, PhD candidate.