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: As far as music specifically goes, Mr. Shorten made announcements at The Malthouse, against which we made a response and published here:
·       The Liberal party also promises to fund education in general as published here:  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:  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:

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 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.

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