Sunday, June 17, 2018

sMAG ENews – Good News

As we all move towards the end of term, many of us have written reports, hosted concerts, prepared students for examinations and moving towards more performances in the last 2 weeks of the term.  All while planning for Term 3 curriculum and hosting Parent/Teacher interviews. J  
I hope you are all able to access Barocca, coffee and chocolate at this time. J

For me personally, I am in the midst of the above, and recovering from a bit of whiplash after a little car bingle.  No need to worry, I am on the mend, and have traversed through worse in the past. ‘The sun will always come up tomorrow’. For sMAG ENews, it just means that I will stagger the ENews over a few editions.  This will allow me to move away from the computer every hour and do some stretches.  For you the reader, it will mean a few extra emails, but much shorter bursts to sit and read. I hope you understand, and are happy to read a few ENews deliveries in shorter bursts.  I also don’t really know if each edition of the ENews will be the last, as if I l move the wrong way, there will be a bit of pain and regression.  So I must tread carefully, daily. Never mind, there are people in the world far worse off – she’ll be right mate!

Learning Journey

We all celebrated the Inquiry into the extent, benefits and potential of music education in Victorian schools 2013, and the 17 recommendations.  We have seen many positive outcomes as the recommendations and findings have been used to influence improvements under various auspices.  The current Victorian government, and Deputy Premier have provided extensive funding to improve outcomes.  DET ran the MEERG and invested 4 years of their capacity to see extensive improvement to policy and development.  sMAG and the extensive music community is very appreciative of this investment.

Over the last few years, I have learnt that there are many governing authorities that surround education.  Each have a specific auspice, and each may NOT cross over to the other's domain. There are so many auspices, there are too many to name! As I start to wind down, knowing I will hand over soon, my father's voice comes to mind, saying 'You would have to be an Oxford Scholar.....' to understand all the auspices and their respective regulation.  sMAG has been bringing the review and recommendations to the Federal and Victorian State government auspices.  It is my view that the Victorian Andrews’ government has provided generous funding, significant time and influence, and has done all within its auspice to generate the commencement of significant change against the Inquiry 2013 recommendations. Particularly in funding the purchase of instruments.  Instruments purchased wisely can have a whole of school, positive effect. I will tease this out in a moment – for now:  If ‘a tidal wave, floats all boats’, those of us receiving grants must (so to speak) ‘take hold of the bridge as captains of our boats, and ride the wave’.  For those, in this vast ocean of music education receiving grants, do have it within their auspice to make wise purchases to see long term, positive outcomes. There will be a few sharks circling, so later in this ENews, I will ask you to indulge me with listening to some of my thoughts on ‘where to throw your nets for a great catch’.  J

The Good News - QMEF

As reported in a previous edition of the ENews, the School Music Action Group Victoria we welcome the publication of the QMEF.  The Quality Music Education Framework is published. Please see the link to the framework below.  The document is dense, and you have to hyperlink it with other documents that DET provides to support professional practice.  Mandy Stefanakis has already published an analysis on the ‘Music Trust’ website at: Mandy’s work unpacks aspects of the QMEF, and cites references to other major relevant works across the field.

The Framework provides specific advise to school leaders around policy and investment to support new and thriving Music Education programs, as well as support to the Music Specialist Teacher developing new programs.  Everyone in a school setting now has at their fingertips the professional framework to improve learning outcomes in their domain and auspice, in their corner of Victoria.
We applaud Dr. Neryl Jeanneret,, as author, the Victorian DET as support authority and the Victorian Andrew’s government for funding a world first.  There is nothing else like the QMEF in the world.  Congratulations! “Bravo, Bravissimo – very well done!”

The Good News – Funding to Purchase Instruments

sMAG welcomes the 2018/2019 Victorian State Budget with news of specific funding for Music Education. 
The sMAG committee welcomes the commitment of $1M to further music education and we expressed the music communities appreciation at the MEERG, in our last ENews and in a letter to the Hon. Mr. Merlino on May 10.:-) -) You can view the public announcement here: and again here:

We hear from the MEERG that $600,000 will be allocated to schools to purchase instruments and related music education resources.  The selection process to receive a small allocation from this line item of funding will be available.  Low SES schools will be prioritized.  A new selection process will occur for this round of funding, as opposed to the previous selection process when the government allocated $400,000
The DET music team will publish their selection criteria at some point in the future.

Wow – as a teacher working in a Primary school setting, this is significant.  Such investment is ‘a tidal wave to float many boats’.  An image comes to mind - the story of ‘The Little Ships of Dunkirk’. 300,000 ordinary citizens floated their boats across the English channel in 1940 and succeeded in a strategic evacuation.

So, indulge me a little here – I would like to speak specifically to all Primary School Music Specialists. If you are not swimming in this ocean of music education, you can skip a page or two J.

Dear Primary School Music Specialists,

Funding for instruments is extremely precious.  It can be allocated one year, and withdrawn the next – meaning that a one off grant to purchase instruments may be all that you ever receive.  You may also be unaware that there are various other funding lines to draw from, which assists in a frugal approach.
Here me now, make any dollar allocated go as far as possible.  Having worked in this ocean for many years, I have a few pearls of wisdom to give you.  Applying the approaches I am about to share led to my local Secondary School HOM paying me a visit to ask ‘How do you do it?  The students we inherit from you are extremely literate in music – I’m keen to see and hear your approach’. So I share with you now, what I shared with Wendy Harvey then.

Many of us agree that the shared vision is to create sequential, continuous and developmental programs from P – Year 8.  It is within the Primary School Music Specialists auspice to write their own programs against the Australian Curriculum (and in our case AUSVELS) to engage and meet the needs of the local community.  In every curriculum document, in every overview, in every school marketing/communications portal or website I write ‘the music program is sequential, continuous and developmental’.  Foundational to all thinking and approaches, ‘the music program is sequential, continuous and developmental’.  With this, no money has been spent, yet a foundation is laid. J

Glockenspiel and Marimba approaches provide a P – 6 ‘sequential, continuous and developmental’ program when delivered to the whole school in one unit per year.  Personally, I use

Jon Madin’s books and select tunes that are age appropriate, and developmentally appropriate.

The Glockenspiel 27K retail for approximately $65.00. I started  my program by buying 15, and said ‘One between two children’ then played every piece twice J.
A class set of 25 will set you back approx.: $1650 with postage – cheaper if you pick them up!
So for this price, I delivered the foundations for keyboard, ensemble and singing skills….

Keyboard skills: Obvious by the set up of the glockenspiel.
Ensemble skills: Jon’s books are developmental, and as such the later books include tunes with parts.  The parts come not only with SATB for glockenspiel but also with percussion and Marimba parts.
Singing skills: Every tune I teach, must first be sung.  The C Major scale is taught in Prep, the C major tonic triad in Grade 1, and the 12 Bar Blues in year 2.  All must be sung as they are played along with Jon’s CD that comes along with the book.
As the tunes are sung, I point to the corresponding nots on the notation poster.  Once children get to year 6, and I start the C Major Scale song with the Call “Oh The Cows and The Calves”, students involuntarily respond with “CCC” in perfect pitch!!
Singing is free – you haven’t spent money there.
The poster is about $30 or $40.
From Year 3 – 6, the marimbas are introduced, and students get to play tunes like ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ – now made famous again by Disney.

Marimbas.  Grandparents made these instruments about 25 years ago. They were crafted out of spare or discarded wood that was lying around. J
Do you have some spare wood on a farm somewhere?
Is there someone out in your region who really likes carpentry?
Is there a STEM project going at your place?
Here is the design:

Cost to your budget: $0.00 J

Jon Madin is happy to come out to schools and provide incursions.  Funding for incursions comes out of a different funding line – the incursion/excursion levy.  Parents pay a levy at the start of the year.  You can work collaboratively within your school setting to secure an incursion/workshop from Jon, and really inject some vitality into the day – without touching your precious funding for instruments.

In my setting, I have the children write the traditional notes for each tune, into their books in the last 5 minutes of every 50-minute protected, and timetabled session.  The books come out of the book levy charged to parents at the start of the academic year.  The bookshelves, that each music book class set is stored in, were purchased through the furniture budget – a different line of funding.  I negotiated this with my principal when all the classrooms were upgrading their furniture.  I wanted the music room to look the same as parents toured the school. J
My supportive principal agreed.

A good student Ukulele will set you back about $60 or $70 each.  A half set of 15, and everyone plays twice costs approx.: $1,000.  No doubt, full class sets are better.  Get the best deal in your area.

The Guitar hooks for the wall came out of the furniture budget.

Installation came out of the maintenance budget
Protect your funding for instruments!  Make that dollar stretch J
The Ukulele community is worldwide. You can find free lessons for a continuous, sequential and developmental program on Youtube:

And Google.  There are iPad applications, phone apps, communities, performance groups, incursion performers and conferences.  The Pacific Ocean of Uke is wide and deep – go swim! J

Djembes cost between $50 and $70 each.  At the most expensive end, a class set could set you back $1800.  Worth every penny! You can provide a continuous, sequential and developmental program on drumming, delivered to every year level.  My preps learn how to hold the djembe, and play a bass, and maybe a 4 beat rhythm.  By Year 3 and 4, they are independently composing original pieces in pairs or groups, and notating the sounds.
Out of the incursion budget, African Performers entertain our assembly once every year or two.  Then they run workshops, out under the tree on a warm summer’s day.  The performers then impart culture, and story around the djembe to the students.
Research also demonstrated that drumming regulates heartbeat, and is great for welfare outcomes in schools.
I had enormous fun attending one adult workshop, to base a whole unit of classroom teaching around what I learnt.

Again, community around djembe is as wide as the Indian ocean! Go fish!

Singing is free and worldwide.  Every song that was ever written is now available on Youtube, and in Karaoke version.  Anyone can create a P – 6 continuous, sequential and developmental program around singing, at little to no cost.  The voice connects to culture – sing! Sing everything: lullabies, instructions, the national anthem.
Networking is low cost or free.  The joining fee out of your classroom instruments budget is well worth spending as the association provides you with access to every expert in the field, PD opportunities and more.

A different line to any musical instruments budget funds Musicals.  Some aspects might come out of a classroom music budget, yet this must be discussed with each individual principal.

I wish you all happy travels on the oceans and seas of Music Education.
Happy to come and visit country towns if you are happy to invite and play host J.
Yours sincerely!

Welcome back everyone, hope you are ok with skipping a couple of pages, and allowing me the indulgence of sharing.

So for all of us swimming the 7 oceans of Music Education, what will your contribution be? We are all in this together.  Early years education leads to primary education, which leads to secondary education and the SIMP, which then feeds tertiary.  The tertiary graduates then come back and join us, giving forward to the next generation.
How can we strengthen our sector?  How can we turn a tidal wave, into a national movement? What will your drop in the ocean be?   Come along to the forum, and let’s discuss J


Date: Thursday July 12
Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm
VENUE: Federation Hall - VCA: 234 St Kilda Road, Southbank, Melbourne
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.

Networking and supporting one another on Facebook provides for rich sharing at times.  Please join the group, and join the conversations:

Kind Regards,
Catherine Lyons