Tuesday, September 27, 2016

sMAG Term 3 ENews

Welcome to another vibrant report form the School Music Action Group Victoria.  As Term is so busy, and each member of our team invests so much time into our lobby work, as well as their own daytime jobs, Term-by-Term news will be collated during the school holidays, and regular updates can be found on the Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/sMAGVic/

sMAG Instrumental Music Teacher Working Party (IMT WP)

We have continued to discuss the VIT PTT draft policy with the VIT and at the Music Education Expert Reference Group.  Letters to Mr. Merlino have also continued.  We received reassurance from the Minister that he takes our concerns very seriously, and will address many of the matters personally.  We remind everyone to contact Jo Patterson of the VIT, should any cases of concern be brought to your attention. The VIT will then engage their compliance measures, commencing an investigation process and contacting the Principal concerned.

We saw the Government Response to the Bracks Report. Publications can be found here: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/fundingreview.aspx and specifically http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/department/Bracks%20Government%20Response%202016.pdf   This report is pertinent to the SIMP as it included a minor inclusion of the funding models appropriated for this area.  Within this we see that the government is putting strategic oversight mechanisms to direct future work with the School Policy and Funding Advisory Council (SPFAC).  We understand that there is a focus on providing equity.  In other government publications we see the Community Hubs model published.  The sMAG IMT WP advocates that any funding model for the SIMP be devised around the HUBS or ‘Lighthouse’ concept: http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/making-our-schools-thriving-community-hubs/ With base schools for both SIMP and classroom music educators, staff can be provided with some security of employment at a major music center school, and then supply to local smaller schools for fractions of time as the student numbers permit. 
We also understand from the Bracks documents that there is a Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO).  We are researching the implications of this document.
sMAG Teacher Training Working Party (TT WP)

We saw the publication “WORKING TOGETHER TO SHAPE TEACHER EDUCATION IN VICTORIA” discussion paper released in mid September.  With limited time we were able to submit with recommendations around undergraduate entrance requirements, and course content.
sMAG Strategy Working Party
Discussions around the benefits of a DET Music Branch have commenced.  We believe that should DET take up the concept of a leadership branch for music education situated at Treasury Place, staffed by music trained professionals with credentials in both performance and education, mechanisms for visionary aspirations, strategic oversight, as well as transparency and accountability measures would have opportunity to be developed and see long term generational change throughout Victoria.  The LOTE branch has had tremendous success with the same leadership model, and so we believe such a model would work for Music Education.  We have written to the minister with this suggestion.


As we moved through Term 3, we saw the development and implementation of many improvement points against the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education 2013.  We now see many and varied announcements coming through the Andrews’ government portals and encourage you to get involved and respond.
Schools -
Quote: “Victorian schools will be thriving community hubs with new libraries, sports facilities, performing arts centres and early learning centres to be shared with the whole community, under a new Andrews Labor Government initiative.”
Minister for Education James Merlino launched the $50 million Shared Facilities Fund, which will help schools and communities build shared facilities on school grounds. http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/making-our-schools-thriving-community-hubs/
The opportunity here is for many private music providers.  Investment from the music industry into music education would have tremendous outcomes.  Should music industry look into partnerships where significant infrastructure is built, with access to the facility by both industry and education – the potential is enormous.  Individual schools, and music education groups need to start having rich conversations around proposals and connect with the Victorian Government to see this happen, so that future generations of Victorians can benefit for decades to come.

Universities -
Infrastructure is a theme, a wonderful theme, coming out of the Andrews’ Labor government.  After last term’s announcements around a new conservatorium for Melbourne University, we also saw announcements around new music facilities for Monash University. The Monash Alexander Theatre Upgrade: https://alexander-theatre.monash/
Although sMAG has not been directly involved at all, we welcome the magnificence of this announcement, and the generational change that will come through in Jazz and Musical Theatre.
Now I shall sing ‘Fly me to the moon….’

Further news from Gary around the University of Melbourne Upgrade –

“The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s (MCM) new Conservatorium building will offer state-of-the-art teaching facilities on the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus.

Conceived by award-winning John Wardle Architects, and funded by the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, and generous philanthropic support, the $104.5 million building will help consolidate existing MCM staff and students on the Southbank campus, further strengthening the relationships between the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (VCA&MCM) and its neighbour and partner arts organisations, creating a dynamic new environment for music education and collaboration.

The project plans include an (approximate) 443-seat auditorium, two very large spaces for orchestral and large ensemble rehearsals, teaching studios and lecture halls, as well as a public square that will contribute to the community space plan for the Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint. Construction is slated to begin in 2017, with first classes to commence in the building in 2019. The existing Conservatorium infrastructure, including the renowned Melba Hall, will be retained on the University’s Parkville campus.

The new Conservatorium building forms part of the ongoing redevelopment of the Southbank campus, which also includes a refurbishment and repurposing of the former Police Stables in Dodds Street, as well as the establishment of the Buxton Contemporary. The Faculty of VCA&MCM teaches more than 7,000 students and attracts more than 31,000 visitors a year.

Further details on the new MCM Conservatorium building and Southbank redevelopment can be found at http://mcm.unimelb.edu.au/southbank-redevelopment
Professor Gary McPherson 
Ormond Chair of Music and Director
Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
The University of Melbourne

The Arts Education Colloquium Series PresentedDeveloping a framework for music education and defining quality: Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret

sMAG’s Fiona Phillips went along and provided the following report.

“Reflections on the F-12 Quality Music Framework

Neryl explained that the journey towards the framework had begun in August  2015, when the Melbourne Graduate School of Education was given the  mission to develop a F-12 Quality Music Education Framework. She mentioned the importance of professional groups such as sMAG, that had continued to apply pressure at the political level resulting in the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and potential of Music Education in Victorian Schools. It is therefore imperative that we continue to pull together and write to politicians.

The challenge for Neryl’s team was to pull together research, policy, and stakeholder interests into a single framework that defined “quality music education” for Victorian schools and that covered a spectrum of schools and teachers. Neryl highlighted that there is still such inequity when it comes to the provision of music education in Victoria and that the ‘spectrum’ included either/or schools and teachers with little or no music education in place to those with well-established and robust music education programs. Neryl highlighted that the task to define “quality music education” in a way that also provides a ‘framework for accountability’ had been a complicated exercise.

The people, places, pedagogies and repertoire of music education in Victorian schools are so diverse and it was pleasing to hear of the recognition that music education can and does exist outside of metropolitan Melbourne. This diversity however, creates its own set of issues. Neryl and her team recognized that policy documents relating to classroom music have to be “necessarily broad to accommodate the needs and contexts of students across a broad range of demographic, cultural and geographical backgrounds. This need for flexibility must be balanced with a specificity that is actually useful for teachers in guiding their practice in a wide range of music education contexts.” This underpinning statement brought up the necessity for the M.E.G. (Music Education Guide) to be completed and made available to support the implementation of the framework.

Post presentation questions from teachers who are required to also implement the Victorian Curriculum whilst employed as “Performing Arts Teachers” highlighted another level of complexity and this continues to bring to the surface the importance of arguing for musical learning and development as intrinsically important. It also brings up the question of what the skill level and musical background is of those implementing music education from this position.

The presentation indicated that the work done by the team had drawn from a meta-synthesis of the music education research and policy literature. A bibliography would be made available – something that will assist sMAG in the preparation of documentation going forward. There is still a gap in the literature in relation to research of practice and what music education ‘looks like’ in the real life classrooms outside Metropolitan Melbourne. There was mention of Lucy Green’s work in the UK in lower secondary classrooms and the informal musical learning model that is the backbone of Musical Futures Approach.

Of particular interest to me, was a graphic suggesting the use of a range of pedagogical models across the learning spectrum. The idea that knowledge of more than one pedagogical approach is necessary when teaching and learning in music is not new, but the suggestion in the framework that particular approaches are more useful at particular stages of development was interesting. This was highlighted in comments to me made by a colleague from the host organization. He indicated that in his area of learning this was an aspect of their practice that was not considered. In his area instead, a particular approach and set of strategies was suggested with levels of complexity the area of differentiation applied. I believe that this idea of a range of developmentally appropriate pedagogical models in the framework provides the grounds for applying some level of pressure to ITE providers to have this as more of a focus in their courses and in order to accomplish such will require more effective use of time and dedication to the learning area. I also believe that it highlights the need for strong partnerships to exist between the various professional organizations and ITE providers. Giving time to perfecting skills and knowledge and expertise in the implementation of a range of pedagogical approaches and strategies will also require the relevant professional organisations to step up their level of provision to in-service professionals.

Brian Loane once said, “Use music itself to explain to young people what you mean. This isn’t an art lesson or an English lesson.” It was great to have a sample of recent VCE work from a young person to help highlight what this type of framework may be able to achieve for more students across the state. At the forefront of my mind was one main phrase – it rang like an ostinato in my mind – “continuous experiences”. This will be a challenge but it is and should be the baseline or foundation of what we aim for.”
Fiona Phillps

Keep up the pressure, and make it STEAM!  Science without creativity – would mean no invention, but simply analysis and data.  To be the clever country, all scientists need creativity.


1. Celebrate:
Do you have a success story to tell?  Share it with us – we love to share the results of progress with the wider community.
Has your school received funding through the Musical Instruments Grant program? http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/helping-victorian-kids-to-embrace-music/  Share photos, celebrations and feedback here on the sMAG FB page, via the Music Education NING and music.eduation@edumail.vic.gov.au. We want to celebrate with you as the improvement implementations roll out!
2. Integrity in Partnerships:
Whenever a school requires a partnership with an outside music/arts provider - check the credentials. It is crucial that the outside provider has a qualification and can a) read music, b) sing in tune c) interact in a professional way with students d) are consistent so that students are not confused e) provide original works. If the provider does not pass the 'fair dinkum' test, find someone who does. There are plenty of private providers who can match the score to the performance, the rehearsal to the product at a high level - seek those providers out and reward them for their professionalism.

3. Promotion
Wouldn’t it be great to see Australian Music greats immortalized in bronze like our sports legends are around the MCG?  It can happen!! The Victorian government has released funding to do just that!  More laneways named after music legends, tourist walks, and even sculptured art installations.  http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/rockin-the-laneways-to-celebrate-vic-music-heritage/ You could write a submission encouraging your local council to seek funding that puts a sculpture of Molly Meldrum in a prominent place in St. Kilda, bronze statues of Christmas Carols singers outside the Sydney Myer Music Bowl, and Richard Gill outside the Vic Opera building! Let's write in and celebrate our music in the streets with art, sculptures, laneway names and history walks everywhere!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

sMAG Term 2 ENews

While we move into Term 3, I must apologise for the Term 2 ENews coming out later than expected.  I have been nursing a leg injury, and writing to Federal electoral candidates.  Both have consumed much of my time and energy, so with a ‘quieter’ week, I can now report on the many and varied activities that we are aware of across the sector.

Throughout the Federal election campaign, the Strategic Working party put together a base letter to deliver to every candidate across the major parties.   After introductions, we outlined a brief history of the landscape, and finished with key recommendations that we believe would push the Victorian agenda forward:

sMAG recommends that whether in government or the Senate, Any elected candidate commits to;
·       Universal provision of music education in Australian schools from P-8 by the start 2022 academic year - five years to allow for pre service training of music education specialists.  Public service teachers provide long-term investment in schools, working in communities over decades.
·       Ensuring that the Wiltshire/Donnelly recommendation that Music be delivered as a stand-alone subject, is implemented into the Australian Curriculum, and that the Australian Curriculum provides a sequential, continuous and developmental pathway for all students from P – 8, delivered by an expertly trained, specialist teacher.
·       Creating and promoting a national quality/best practice framework for music in schools.
·       Appointing a Commonwealth Education minister who then seeks the agreement of the COAG Education Council in requiring schools and systems to report on their music education activity annually from 2017. 
·       Adopting a variation on TEMAG recommendation (Rec 18) that teacher-training institutions provide students with the opportunity to specialise in a STEM subject and an arts subject – namely Music.  Effectively STEMM.  Meaning that in the medium term the teacher training institutions and teacher registration bodies are training and accrediting sufficient graduate teachers with the requisite skills in music to achieve the goal of universal provision; P – 8 Classroom music, instrumental music experts and ensemble teachers.

Responses from the major parties:

·       Labor promised to fully fund Gonski, pre service training in general and deliver more support for special needs students: http://www.laborsplanforeducation.com.au/ As far as music specifically goes, Mr. Shorten made announcements at The Malthouse, against which we made a response and published here: http://smag-schoolmusicactiongroup.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/federal-labors-election-promise-of-2m.html
·       The Liberal party also promises to fund education in general as published here: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/putting-students-first  The party sent a letter back about ‘Jobs and Growth’ from a Mr. T. Nutt.  I will make no further comment here.
·       The Greens policy is around a ‘lifetime of learning’ in a sustainable education process: http://greens.org.au/lifetime-of-learning  They also responded with a letter around education in general, and an interest in consulting with us further should they win government.

Individual candidates wrote back affirming their enthusiasm for music education, each of which I published on the sMAG Facebook page.

In order to push the Federal agenda forward, a National strategy with collaborators from every state is needed.  Initiatives such as the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) social media posts are good, yet they need to be backed up with academic evidence and consistent lobbying efforts.  I look forward to hearing from National colleagues around what can be achieved next.  In the meantime, if you would like to support the STEAM campaign, please download the separate attachment with the ENews, and post to your social media accounts. In the near future, sMAG will write to the new Federal education minister and outline the history, research and needs of the music education sector in Victoria, and how Federal policy can add momentum to strengthening delivery.



As we moved through Term 2, we saw the development and implementation of many improvement points against the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education 2013.  We now see announcements around improving pre-service teacher training.  The Victorian government has announced this week, a major collaboration with the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.  We celebrate this announcement, as the building will stand for hundreds of years!  The Music community has a real opportunity to embrace the support and make the best of it!

Quote from the Press Release: "Melbourne’s Southbank is set to become one of the world’s best training grounds for the arts, with the construction of a new Melbourne Conservatorium of Music to add to the best cultural precinct in the nation.
Acting Premier James Merlino today announced the project – a partnership between the Andrews Labor Government and the University of Melbourne – which will expand and relocate the University’s elite music education and research facility from Parkville to Southbank, opening to students in 2019."

Quote from Daniel Andrews' Facebook Page: "Say you've just finished high school in Victoria, and you're an absolute gun violinist or pianist, and you have your heart set on a career travelling the world in a famous orchestra.
Well, right now the first thing you would do is move overseas, because the music conservatories in Europe are second to none.
That's all about to change.
Today, I can announce that we're going to build the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) in Southbank.
It'll be the world's best training ground for musicians of every instrument and every discipline.
And it will create 2,000 jobs."
Quote from Gary McPherson:
Yes, this is really great news for our Conservatorium.  It’s been a very very long time coming but the new building will really make a huge difference. I’ll attach a photo of what it will look like (it will be located immediately behind the MRC). 

We’ll still retain the Parkville (old) conservatorium building plus also the St Kilda Road music building and hope to get a fourth building at Southbank that is a dedicated practice facility for our students. The new building however, will house most of our performance program.

I have a very large ARC grant in that I should know the outcome of by the end of this year. It would help establish a hub for the teaching of instruments to rural students who don’t have access to specialist teachers. If we get the funding we’ll also be embarking on professional development courses for teachers, streaming concerts and lectures and workshops and trying as best we can to support music teachers throughout the state. We had a very successful all day session at the Melbourne Recital Centre a few months ago where our two wind symphonies performed with another 5 school ensembles. Next year, I’m hoping to expand our connections with school ensembles by booking the MRC for a few more concerts.

There’s so much to do but at least we’re making some progress on a few fronts. With a new building it will be so much easier to do more of the things we hope can support music in schools

Professor Gary McPherson 
Ormond Chair of Music and Director
Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
The University of Melbourne

But Wait There’s More…!!!....

Deputy Premier and Education Minister, Mr. James Merlino, this week visited Gippsland with major announcements (pinch yourself, this is real!).

Music rooms to be built for Morwell Park Primary School. 
"Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing today visited five local schools that will benefit from this record investment in school infrastructure. Mr Merlino turned the first sod to mark the start of construction on the new Morwell Park Primary School, which will include new classrooms, a library, arts and music spaces." Harriet Shing MP is the Victorian parliament's ambassador for Music Education.

The commitment from the Andrews’ Victorian government can clearly be seen.  Mr. Merlino is so committed to ensuring the roll out is completed, he has appointed Ms. Harriet Shing MP to the role of Ambassador for music education.  Ms. Shing is pictured to the back/right of the photograph.

My personal response ‘FuniculìFuniculà, FuniculìFuniculà…..’

We celebrate the commitment from the Andrews’ government, and now endeavour to make the most of what we have been given.  We can be energised to invest our time and energy into delivering excellence in education, with such wonderful support and belief in our sector.

Mr. Carl Williams and I, met with Ms. Harriet Shing MP at parliament house in June where we enthusiastically discussed the progress, the challenges and strategies to move the agenda forward.  Ms. Shing herself received a rich and extensive music education during her schooling years, having studied Cello, played in the orchestras and participated in the wide array of performances her school had to offer.  We welcome her appointment, and look forward to a long association.

Following the evidence presented around the VIT PTT draft policy, sMAG received a personal letter back from Mr. Merlino outlining how he takes our concerns very seriously.  We presented a lot of evidence, and can be assured that it will take time to work through all the matters.  We now wait for the minister’s decision.

We were also instructed to contact Jo Patterson of the VIT, should any cases of concern be brought to our attention.  We did then have a further conversation with Jo Patterson who assured sMAG that the community can report any advertisements of IMT’s as ES directly to her office.  The VIT will then engage their compliance measures, commencing an investigation process and contacting the Principal concerned.

VCAA: Specialist Mentors in Music
The VCAA have postponed the appointment of this next round of mentors.  Applicants were informed via email, and we expect news to come through some time in Term 2. Enquiries about the Specialist Teacher role can be directed to: Alan McLean  Email:        mclean.alan.w@edumail.vic.gov.au

We have not heard of any further seminars being organized at this point in time.

sMAG welcomes the commitment the Victorian government is providing the Special Needs education area.  All the implementation plan points will highly develop the area and increase student outcomes.  Needless to say, sMAG made a submission to this review in 2015, led by Dr. Helen Farrell, and we are thrilled with the outcomes of the review.

The Education State – Early Childhood Framework.
The VCAA have published the final VEYLDF http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/earlyyears/vfldoutcomes/index.aspx The documents are to be read in conjunction with the first 3 levels for the Victorian Curriculum.  We welcome the inclusion of The Arts, and specifically Music in 2 of the interactive areas.  The connection to the Victorian Curriculum enables Early Years practitioners to connect with a rich Music Curriculum and develop their plans substantially.  Quote form the document:
The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) is structured around five interconnected Learning and Development Outcomes for young children.
§  Children have a strong sense of identity (identity)
§  Children are connected with and contribute to their world (community)
§  Children have a strong sense of wellbeing (wellbeing)
§  Children are confident and involved learners (learning)
§  Children are effective communicators (communication)
The Illustrative Maps are provided as examples to support a continuity of learning between the VEYLDF Learning and Development Outcomes and the first three levels of the Victorian Curriculum F-10. 


The Big Gig conference was a great inspiration to many in the field.  Our own Nadine Brown led workshops on Vocals in the classroom.  Many professionals went away inspired to adopt relevant and engaging music education strategies.