Sunday, November 16, 2014

sMAG November ENews

What a month October was!!  As we move into November, we stand to be just as busy.

Current sMAG Co-Chair Ian Harvey and committee member Robin Stevens were inducted into the aMuse Music Education Hall of Fame. They were amongst many fine high achievers, and sMAG congratulates them all. Dr. Anne Lierse accepted on behalf of Richard Gill, and prepared a congratulations speech for Robin Stevens. Deborah Smith (former vice chair of sMAG was also inducted). A huge thank you to Kevin and Lynlee for their tireless work in aMUSE, and ongoing support towards sMAG! 

Inquiry Implementation Update
Under the Napthine Victorian government, support for the recommendations was tabled in parliament in May and can be read here:
We inform the community of the running implementation against these recommendations as we are informed.

a) The DEECD has formed an expert reference group by invitation.  Experts from across the field have been invited to participate; from early years learning to all sectors of tertiary education, from classical music genres, through jazz and to modern expressions - as well as principals and music industry representatives. A member of staff the Premier and Cabinet offices represents government from. sMAG is also well represented in the group.  We hope with a wide array of experts, the best outcomes can be achieved, and have benefits through to the next generation of learners. The next meeting will happen in a couple of weeks to discuss key aspects of the reform agenda made public at the Symposium held in October.   The group will continue to meet through to 2017.  A summary of the reform agenda can be found here:  You will see listed key headings that group agenda points against the inquiry recommendations into 3 main groups. The role of this group is to provide guidance, information, strategic direction for actions arising from the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education.  While some items have commenced, some are currently under discussion, and some (instrumental) have been deferred to 2015 when a further review will commence.  Anyone can join the conversation by emailing

b) The DEECD have taken their first round of data in the annual schools census, which is the commencement in meeting the requirements for Recommendation 1 in the inquiry report.

c) VCAA, through the leadership of Helen Champion have commenced consultation processes on the Music Education Guide with music educators across Victoria.  The Guide is a significant step towards implementing one of the recommendations from the inquiry, and we look forward to seeing and hearing about the progress of this online document into the future.

d) Strategic Partnerships Program   Just prior to the start of the election campaign Education Minister Dixon confirmed a further round of strategic partnerships funding.  Of this $1.5 was allocated to music organisations with a vision to improve PD delivery and other programs directly to students.  In announcing these funds Minister Dixon said, “As part of the Government's response to the 2014 Parliamentary Inquiry into Music Education, over $1.5 million in grants will be invested in 10 organisations focused on extending the quality and reach of music education to Victorian students.

"Music is a vital part of a rich and well-rounded school education in Victoria – and the Napthine Government is ensuring Victorian students have a range of opportunities to develop and extend their music skills."
Country Victoria was also well represented with 19 regionally-based organisations receiving grants, and others, such as regional Arts Victoria, delivering programs specifically for regional students.”

The Melbourne Youth Music program received a financial commitment from the Victorian government to improve their programs and reach more students across Victoria.  We welcome and celebrate this fantastic news, as MYM will meet the needs of the highly able.  Fantastic news!
We understand also that aMuse received some funding through this program for the period 2015-17. Great news!
We are seeking information and details on the remaining groups to be funded.

Victorian election
Election campaigns create a lot of media attention.  It takes a significant amount of effort and hard work to secure the attention of politicians, and then to secure the attention of the media.  Copious amounts of information and video footage all from various sources is gathered by journalists taking inordinate amounts of time, only to have a quarter page in the newspaper, and a few minutes on the evening news – if you are lucky.  Research, and intellectually broad discourse is reduced to bite sized media grabs to get the attention of the general public.  Inevitably, conversations behind the scenes need to occur to clarify.

sMAG, as a bi-partisan lobby group, has approached key ministers and staff from both the Coalition and Labor.  Every candidate from all parties that is publicly listed has received a letter from us, urging them to continue the reform agenda.  In each we have encouraged political support of the Inquiry and a commitment to its implementation as part of each parties education platform.  We have been seeking commitments from Coalition and Labor to implement the recommendations from the Inquiry.  Further, we have been seeking a strengthening of commitment through provision of an aspiration, strategic framework, accountability structure and financial support during the next four years of a new parliament.

Naturally, many music associations, music providers and individuals lobby politicians leading up to election campaigns.  Each has unique methods of approach with differing levels of success.  sMAG welcomes and supports those in the music community that have the capacity to engage with politicians.  It will take many years with a lot of effort from a committed community to roll out significant reform in music education delivery in Victoria.  What has been degraded over the last 4 or 5 decades cannot be fixed through one election campaign or even one term of government. 

It will also take input from many experts, practicing musicians, music associations, and various private music providers to make the kind of difference we are aspiring towards – EVERY CHILD, IN EVERY SCHOOL.  Children from many different cultural inheritances, different locations, different abilities and different socio economic groups all need to be catered for.  We all need to work together, along side one another, providing private and public support for one another to see transformational change across every school.

Whenever we hear of such funding and support, we will celebrate it.  With each announcement we see a new colour weaved into a tapestry that will require much work and cohesion to complete successfully.

The Major Parties
The Liberal Party to date has commenced the roll out of their response to the inquiry as per the information above and in earlier newsletters.  We understand in good faith, that the commenced action would continue under a re elected Napthine government.  So far there have been no further election campaign announcements with respect to music education but hope that the Liberals back their commitment with some further announcements in the remaining 14 days before the election. 

The Labor Party to date have committed to maintain what has been put in place during 2014, and then over and above committed to a further $2M to address some key areas.  The plan is to target schools that have no music program in place,

“We’ll bring music lessons to every Victorian school and we’ll help them with the cost of instruments because no child should miss out.”

The total package is $2M.  Labor will contribute $1.4 million in funding, so all Victorian government schools get the chance to refresh or commence music education in their classrooms in partnership with Musical Futures Australia.  It will also establish a $400,000 grants program to help government and low fee Catholic and independent schools without a strong, school wide music program to purchase musical instruments.  Musical Futures Australia will also administer $200,000 in additional funding to train and mentor primary teachers with the tools of musical education before they enter the classroom.  To find more information on MF go to:

sMAG’S Response
For Labor, at this point, the clear target towards funding schools with no music program at all is an imperative that we support.  Direct initiatives toward teacher PD, teacher undergraduate training and provision of musical equipment to schools will go a long way towards improving student outcomes, in a way that is consistent with the inquiry recommendations.  We understand that the Labor announcements are in addition to funding and initiatives already underway. This means the following would continue:  
    the 10 music organisations funded by the SPP program 
    the expert reference group
    the music guide project and
     other activities commenced by DEECD 

The Labor response to the Inquiry provides support for teachers in rural and regional locations, and those working in disadvantaged schools where professional development opportunities are limited.
Effectively Labor have promised an addition $2m to music education as a result of their announcement this week.  We welcome this investment and, in particular, the clear statements Labor Leader Daniel Andrews made in about music ed in his announcement – Mr. Andrews said ‘“We’ll bring music lessons to every Victorian school and we’ll help them with the cost of instruments because no child should miss out.” 

For Liberal, at this point, the clear target of their established funding is towards many providers is also an imperative that we support. The full outline of their established agenda is listed above. The Liberal response to the inquiry provides significant support towards significant improvements. As noted above the Liberals, to this point, have not made any new election promises with regard to the process.  We will continue to press the Liberals to announce funding measures to support the inquiry recommendations and to make a clear and unequivocal statement regarding their intentions and aspirations for music education in this state.  We have a few days before the election day to achieve this if we can.

While each commitment is aligned to small amounts of funding towards a big job, we think we have achieved a first – both major parties discussing music education.

We invite all members of the community to write to their local members during the election campaign.  Everyone in the community can get involved in taking action during the Victorian Election Campaign. Everyone! Parents, teachers and musicians all have a part to play in getting the political candidates to hear about 'What Our Schools Need'!  As you meet your local election hopefuls, raise awareness of the inquiry with each personally.  The posters that are up on our blog can be handed to election hopefuls to make them aware that this is an important issue in our community. We have a template letter and excel spreadsheet of candidates contact details for those wanting to write.  Please email us to get a copy sent to you if you want to contribute in this way.  Or the details about how to contact your local members are up on their websites:

To find your;
    Labor Party Candidate Addresses: 
    Liberal Party Candidate Addresses:
    Greens Party Candidate Addresses:
    Independents are more difficult to find online - here is  a starting point:

Other activities and things of interest…..

On Thursday Oct 20th, Catherine was invited to speak to around 1,000 people for the Music Count Us In project.  The impact of a positive music education, and the hopes after two government reviews were put forward.  It was a glorious day at Federation Square.  Harry from The Cat Empire joined us for the performance.  Harry attended Malvern PS, where a comprehensive P – 6 Music Curriculum is in place.  The Glen Waverley Concert band played with Harry, Sue from AMUSE was the compere, and around 600 children sang ‘Paint You a Song’.

The Today show did a pre story in the morning with Shannon Noll in Sydney.
BTN covered the Music Count Us In project in their edition too with an interview with the song writer.

Anita Collins has provided a Ted Talk in Canberra.  She showcased the benefits of learning music, especially in the early years of life (before the age of 7.)   

Richard Gill has been prolific in the media, promoting Music Education on 774, the ABC and in the press. We thank Richard for his tireless work in promoting Music Education!

Debate around the Federal Review continues as we write.  We acknowledge the varying views and debates around the issues raised in The Arts curriculum.  As a Victorian group, we believe we are best placed to focus our energies on the positive outcomes gained in the Victorian Inquiry.  We are happy to enter the debate and contribute with examples where necessary, and as called upon.  As a Victorian group we are often made aware of how Federal decision affect people ‘on the ground’ and how Victorian bureaucracies interpret Federal mandates.  We have been bringing those examples to the attention of those highly engaged in the Federal debate.  Our initial response, which we still stand by, can be read here:   

The Song Room
On November 13th, The Song Room celebrated ten years of Teaching Artist programs with a HUGE performance at the Melbourne Town Hall! Featuring over 400 children performing for each other, their peers, communities and the Victorian Premier, this event also doubled as the unveiling of the World Innovation Summit for Education - WISE Award for Innovation in Education! Congratulations to all involved - particularly the children who were simply amazing!

An online research project, dedicating science projects to sound, and its effects on the brain.  Many studies to do with musicians and music education have been published:

News from the VCAA
VCAA Notice to Schools 2014/124 provides an update about AusVELS and curriculum for 2015. The notice is available on the VCAA website:


News of music teachers forming DEECD professional networks has come through to us.  Great news!  We hope to hear of more such networks being developed through Melbourne municipalities and regional Victoria, as it will bring such strength to our community.  If you would like support or information about getting one started talk to your Principal or email us at:

Please pass these connections to colleagues that use these platforms!  Facebook:   Twitter: @sMAG_Vic 
Social media assistance: Should there be a willing volunteer amongst you, with skills in the social media paradigm, we would be happy to hear from you.  Please send an email through if you are willing to contribute in this space.

Thank you for your continued support.  We hope to work with whoever wins government to improve music education delivery throughout Victoria.  Please forward to colleagues you believe would be interested in supporting sMAG. 

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