Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Monday, November 5, 2018
4th November 1941 – 28 October 2018
The passing of Richard Gill AO is an enormous loss to both music education and the music industry. He touched the lives of so many people from all ages, from tiny children to elderly citizens. His interaction with school children and music teachers was inspirational. So many of our professional musicians, music teachers, members of Orchestras, music ensembles and choirs in all Australian States and Territories acknowledge Richard’s part in their choosing a career in music. To have heard him talk and present music was an experience that no one forgets.
Richard’s passionate support for so many music organisations including The School Music Action Group (sMAG) was exceptional. When we invited him to speak, he did whatever he could to be there. Richard was always available to talk to people, and make them feel valued and important to him. The fact that he remembered the names of people was extra-ordinary.
Richard will be remembered as an amazing human being, philosopher, Director of music, conductor and music educationalist.
Richard worked tirelessly for music education all his life, and was a key person in the lobbying of the Federal Government for a National Review of School Music Education, which took place from 2004 to 2005. His personal lobbying for music education started years before, and Associate Professor Robin Stevens and I remember the meetings we had where the three of us discussed the status of music education in Victoria, and the needs and processes in the development of a National Review. We also had the great privilege of being part of the Review, with Robin Stevens invited to be on the Steering Committee, and Richard and myself as Critical Friends. Victorian music educators who became members of the School Music Action Group (sMAG) when it was formed in 2007 were also on the Steering Committee and included Ian Harvey, Dr Neryl Jeanneret, and Carl Stevens.
After two years with minimal action in regard to the implementation of the Recommendations from the National Review (both federally and in the States), a group of Melbourne music educationalists took action. A Victorian Music Workshop titled School Music Education for every child. Promoting a World Class Music Education, took place at Melbourne High School on April 21 2007. Over 100 delegates included Principals and music teachers from Primary and Secondary Schools, Heads and lecturers from Tertiary Institutions, and members of the music industry, came up with actionable responses to three of the important issues raised in the National Review: Teacher Education; training and professional development; and Curriculum.
Richard Gill took a leading role at the Workshop, giving the powerful Keynote address. Senator Rod Kemp, the Honourable Mr Phil Davis, the leader of the Opposition in the Upper House and spokesperson for Education also spoke. The day concluded with the formation of ‘The School Music Action Group’ and the writing and publication of the Victorian Music Workshop Report, which included a list of Recommendations for the Victorian Government. This work was driven by a great team of passionate members of sMAG all supported by Richard Gill’s conviction, support, and driving energy.
His support for the work of sMAG was ongoing, even hosting meetings at Horty Hall the home of the Victorian Opera in Dec 2010. He also met with politicians personally lobbying the Victorian government on behalf of sMAG.
Richard was passionate about curriculum and teaching. His anger and frustration with the new Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) was publicly expressed when they began merging The Arts into one subject.
Richard spoke with great passion at a Curriculum Forum held at Iwaki Auditorium in Melbourne organised by sMAG in August 2012. As a result, over 70 curriculum responses to the Draft of the ACARA Arts Curriculum were developed by the delegates at the meeting, and were forwarded to ACARA.
His philosophy of music education, and his despair for the State of music education in Australia was well revealed in his Keynote speech at the Victorian Music Workshop 2007. A few points he made are included below.
Beginning with where we were at early in the twentieth century, he reminded us that kindergarten teachers in NSW could not graduate from teachers’ college until they could sing at sight in all major and minor keys with the pitch taken from a tuning fork. Teachers also played a simple piano accompaniment to a wide range of songs. He added that today, few graduating music teachers, including high school music teachers, have these skills.
He pulled no punches and attacked precepts, ideas and principles, not people. He argued that “Good musicians teach for all” presenting a long list of reasons why we need every child in the country to have access to first rate teaching of music by properly trained teachers. He then went on to describe why music education was in big trouble.
A principle gripe was that “music is lumped in with all the other arts because it suits some bureaucrats to do so in an effort to in-invent the wheel”. Richard continued – “Frankly I do not want to be told by someone who knows nothing about music how I should go about teaching the subject I know reasonably well, and more insulting telling me how I should integrate it into the other art forms. It is difficult enough to teach music itself without the burden of unreasonable, external and unrelated requirements…which have nothing intrinsically to do with music anyway.”
He continually repeated his statement that music should be taught by highly-trained specialists with the most brilliant and gifted teachers working at the elementary or kindergarten level.
His attack of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards “VELS” document vociferously, and he emphasized;
- the need to teach music for its own sake,
- reinstate serious vocal music in schools,
- open strong and vigorous dialogue with the tertiary institutions,
- establish a primary curriculum in the State, and
- lobby politicians for specialist teachers in Primary Schools.
Richard concluded his address with a magic statement:
“We just need to guide them (children) to a world of music which is broader and deeper than they every dreamed and to let them know that their lives can be richer and more satisfying by a hundredfold if only they had the opportunity to study music properly.”
Richard will be deeply missed, and his legacy will have a lasting effect on Music Education in Australia.
Dr Anne Lierse on behalf of the School Music Action Group.
Chair of sMAG 2007 – 2013.
The Music Victorian Workshop Report can be found on the sMAG blog spot, and the Cataloguing-in-Publication entry for this title is available from the National Library.
ISBN 978-0-646-55695-6 (2007)
ISBN 978-0-646-55695-6 (2007)
Richard was a compelling orator, influencer and presence. We are forever indebted to him for all of his work in the music arena in Australia, particularly for his work in championing Music Education in schools and sMAG's commencement.
When asked on the ABC's Q and A what could be done to improve Music Education further, Richard emphatically announced "We've just got to keep banging on about it!"
Now, it is up to all of us to "keep banging on about it." We must all carry the message of Music Education's benefits forward, and in so doing, further Richard's legacy and honour his memory
Chair of sMAG January 2014 – July 2018
Note from the new leadership structure.
We, the music community, have opportunity to carry the vision of music education advocacy forward at this crucial time.
In the political arena, decisions are made around numbers. With a Victorian election campaign current, each one of you are invited to write to your local candidates. A proforma letter can be found here: http://smag-schoolmusicactiongroup.blogspot.com/2018/09/smag-spring-enews-2018.html By writing a letter to your local residential area candidate, you demonstrate that Music Education is important. The more people that write, the more weight the subject becomes as an election matter. It is vital that everyone with time, write to their local candidates.
Liberal party candidate contacts can be found here: https://vic.liberal.org.au/#OurTeam
Labor candidates: https://www.viclabor.com.au/contact/your-vic-labor-team/
The Greens: https://greens.org.au/vic/candidates
Minor parties here: https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/CandidatesAndParties/
Using the proforma, it takes 5 minutes per letter to email to the appropriate candidate.
Should you wish, you can sign the Change.org petition for Victoria: https://www.change.org/p/smag-vic-victorian-election-music-education-charter and share it on social media.
As the ABC Documentary ‘Don’t Stop The Music' https://www.abc.net.au/events/dstm/ goes to air, we have opportunity to bring our cause to the attention of all Australians. Please sign this petition, share with friends, and make a noise about Music!
Go to City Recital Hall https://www.facebook.com/CityRecitalHall/
Any livestream technical queries need to be directed to City Recital Hall