Friday, August 29, 2014

sMAG August ENews

For any music teacher Term 3 is full of performances, workshops, festivals and examinations.  We hope that your students are flourishing throughout the State.

Inquiry Implementation Update

Various discussions have occurred between sMAG committee members, and the VCAA and DEECD representatives.  The Co-Chairs and Strategy WP members were able to meet at 1 Treasury place on August 13th, to discuss the next stages of the process of implementing the Inquiry recommendations. 

We are pleased to inform the music community that the DEECD have commenced work on several of the recommendations including the lighthouse schools program (Rec 2) and that the VCAA has announced the development of a Guide to Music Education (Rec 6).  Expressions of Interest from the music education, parent groups and principals were sought.  We are pleased to report that a wide representation of contributors have raised their hands to be involved.  We believe that further calls around specialised areas will be issued in the weeks and months ahead.  To keep abreast of these announcements sign up to the VCAA newsletter:

This represents a small but worthwhile start to the implementation of the Inquiry and its 17 recommendations but it also needs to be understood that not all 17 recommendations will be acted upon this year.  Those involving instrumental teaching for example will be taken up in
Term 1 next year.  No doubt there will be more to report in the coming weeks. Watch this space J.

Victorian election

Without doubt the big event on the horizon is the Victorian Election, which will be held on November 30, about 90 days from now.  sMAG of course is an apolitical interest group so we will not be suggesting who to vote for, yet we will be active in encouraging both sides of politics (and those in between) to include a set of positive music education policies as part of the education platform for the election.  Our committee will meet in September to devise our strategies and platform.

By the time we enter into Caretaker mode in about mid October sMAG hopes to have been able to present or represent its case for music education to both sides of Parliament.  We hope to be able to brief and work with other groups engaged in the election process through music or in education more broadly.  sMAG does not have the resources to influence the community at large but we may be able to influence, working in partnerships with others, the key decision makers in each of the political parties as to why a music education policy should be contained in their education platform and why that policy should be implemented in government.   More on this focus area soon.


sMAG would encourage all in the community to discuss the inquiry outcomes with their local constituents during the upcoming election campaign.  Hopeful candidates from both sides of politics will be knocking on people’s doors as they attempt to win your vote.  Highlight to them the statistics, arguments and importance of our campaign within the wider community, and request they respond to the 17 recommendations in the inquiry.  

Letters to the editor in your local leader press would also be timely as we highlight the benefits of music education in our schools during an election campaign.  In the next few weeks we will produce some template materials to assist with this.

Channel 7 News highlighted the research that demonstrates how learning music and an instrument improves learning outcomes in Naplan literacy results by up to 12 months:  

The Song Room is to be congratulated on their award for Innovation at the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards for the free online learning platform, ARTS:LIVE!  Congratulations to the ARTS:LIVE team and The Song Room partners who work tirelessly to ensure these resources are worthy of such recognition. If you're a teacher and you're yet to register, do so today!

Middle Kinglake Primary School is spotlighted this month as a school doing great things in Music Education.  There is a trained specialist music teacher employed as an ongoing staff member delivering 60 minute music lessons to every class.  The allotment includes some hours as teacher librarian making the teacher a vibrant part of the whole school community as all staff meetings are attended.  The School Chaplain is also a trained Music Teacher, taking on singing group and assisting in all music sessions.  There are two instrumental teachers covering. Guitar, piano, drums, sax, trumpet and singing.  Middle Kinglake Primary participates in The Boite Schools chorus every year, had 18 choral participants this year.  With a school population of only 80 students, Middle Kinglake primary school achieve so much in music education and are a shining example with key characteristics to follow.

Gary McPherson and Graham Welch worked as editors on these comprehensive volumes.  Many Australians have contributed, including Neryl Jeanneret, to the Oxford Handbook to Music Education Volumes 1 and 2. Key research, data and case studies are covered in these volumes providing advice, ideas and deep discussions around the key issues that affect all members of the music education community. Available internationally:

Ambassador honoured
sMAG ambassador, Richard Gill OAM has been honored! APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre (AMC) have announced Richard as this year’s recipient of the Award for Distinguished Services for Australian Music: Widely admired for his outstanding work towards the musical development of young musicians, he has appeared with all the major Australian orchestras and conducted many premieres of new Australian works. Read more here:


The DEECD divides every municipality of Melbourne into Network regions. Every network region has the framework in place for Music educators to form a professional group. The groups are expected to meet and support one another in a collegial environment.  The Boroondarra Municipality framework postpones school level staff meetings at week 5 every term, to allow all staff members to attend an advertised professional network meeting. Your municipality may have a music education network - talk to your principal and get along. If there isn't one established in your region, consider if you might be in a position to start and lead that music education network. Approach your principal and get their support for such a venture. The networks allow for all educators to be involved; from early childhood throughout to VCE; from classroom through to instrumentalist. Some networks provide a platform on Scootle where ongoing dialogue and sharing may occur. The professional networks provide vital professional sharing/mentoring/PD support for everyone involved, and can really go a long way towards improving professional music education delivery. Should there be a music network in every area listed here:, it would go a long way towards strengthening our profession.

Occasionally online videos make a real difference in music education. This series of videos go a long way to making elements of music theory easy and accessible for students to understand, and enable the music professional to implement the 'flipped classroom'.

Anita Collins has put together this great video for TedTalks. In easy to understand language, the neurological benefits of playing an instrument are conveyed - convincing many young people to take up lessons.  Share it with your students and Principals:

The global saxophone teaching community has set up a collegial Facebook page "Saxophone Teachers":  The global professional piano teaching community has set up a collegial Facebook page 'The Art Of Piano Pedagogy'.  The resources allow instrumentalists to discuss, inform and share highlights and strategies that empower their pedagogical practice in the instrumental studio.  Becoming a part of this vital community adds a wealth of development and support from an international community.  Such pages from other instrumental sectors are sought and needed as we build and grow our music community.
TesAustralia is an online portal for curriculum sharing: As with many portals, there is a time saving element, and then there are resources that don't suit your setting. There are recommendation and review buttons that assist. The best way to sort is to develop a recommendation system within your local network.

Graduate teachers may be unaware of the many associations or interest groups that they can join.  The benefits of which are far reaching.  Any of the associations and professional music bodies are legitimate costs to the classroom music teacher expenditure budget.  It is well worth joining at least one or two, subscribing to the newsletters and attending any public meetings.

Association of Music Educators [Victoria]   Website:  
Association of Directors of Music in Independent Schools [Victoria]   Website: 
Australian Band and Orchestra Directors Association (Victorian Branch)   Website:   
Australian Music Association   Website: 
Australian Society for Music Education (Victorian Chapter)   Website:    
Australian Strings Association (Victorian Chapter)  Website:
Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia (Victorian Branch)   Website:  
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra [Education]   Website:  
Music Council of Australia   Website:  
Musica Viva in Schools   Website:  
Musical Futures Australia    Website:
The Soundhouse Music Alliance   Website:  
The Music Trust    Website: 
The Song Room    Website:  
Victorian Music Teachers Association    Website:  
Victorian Opera    Website:  
Victorian Orff Schulwerk Association    Website:

Please pass these connections to colleagues that use these platforms – particularly graduate teachers!   Facebook:   Twitter: @sMAG_Vic 

Thank you for your continued support.  We hope to make significant progress over the next 12 months.  Please  share the news with   colleagues you believe would be interested in supporting sMAG. 

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