Trust The Music – Educating & Advancing Music in Australia

The Music Trust in Australia has launched a national campaign via a petition organised by The Full Deal, to fulfill a wish that – ‘every Australian child should have the opportunity for a quality music education throughout the school years’. Just as a child’s literacy needs to be encouraged by reading aloud to them, so does a child’s musical ear need to be soothed or stimulated by the sound of marvelous music.

Currently a national petition to go to the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, and to be seen by school principals, especially primary school principals, is circulating in Australia by The Music Trust. This new entity was established in Australia in October 2013 by Dr Richard Letts AM, retiring founder and board member of the Music Council of Australia (MCA)

The Music Trust has an important mission; to advance music and musical life in Australia through informed action and advocacy.

Through music children develop the skills that assist them as they strive to achieve their full potential. Studying music empowers children to focus on the ‘doing’ rather than just observing so that they learn flexibility.

It teaches them how to communicate and co-operate with each other, their peers, mentors and maestro’s.

In a nutshell, music is and always should be, integral to their education. It is incomparable.

In a phone survey of 1,000 Australians conducted by the (MCA) 87% agreed with this statement:

“Music education should be mandated by the states so that every child has the opportunity to study music in school”.

The Music Trust (Australia) want to ensure that every Australian child has the opportunity to be involved with a music class conducted by a trained specialist music teacher, at least once a week in class time as well as after school, where musical activities are offered over a range of musical styles.

Renowned and respected music educator Richard Gill says ‘music can be a potent force for good in the life of a child, especially when it is taught properly and sequentially.

He also noted that we ‘teach music because it acts in a unique way on the heart, mind, soul and spirit of the child, stimulating thought and imagination in very special ways’.

Music professionals Sarah Blasko, Richard Tognetti, Clare Bowditch, Peter Sculthorpe, Kev Carmody, Richard Gill, Genevieve Lacey, Katie Noonan, all say: Every child deserves a quality music education… the full deal!

Gill and his musician colleagues believe that it is too late to give adequate music education to tens of thousands of primary teachers and so the supporters of the petition see specialist teachers as by far the best solution.

Because of their own limited music education, many primary school teachers lack the knowledge to teach music or lack the confidence to try.

The petition circulating is the result of the movers and shakers at The Music Trust (Australia) knowing the statistical facts about the ‘situation of music’ in our schools. If they are successful then a lifelong education will be at last no longer a cliché but a social reality. However that does depend on the overall support of those who believe in musical education SIGNING the PETITION !

Both ‘…the eye and the ear can be educated to distinguish the rare from the ordinary, the exquisite from the mundane’.

Australia it seems now imports three to five times more music than it exports. There is now only a narrow opportunity for a child to receive a music education in Australian schools unless their parents pay for it as an extra curricular activity.

MCA research reveals that most successful professional musicians in both contemporary and classical music have ALL received music lessons at an early age, but that it almost always was paid for as an extra by parents.

A survey shows that in Australia overall, 63% of schools offer no classroom music. In some states it is much better and therefore in some states, much worse. In around 88% of independent schools but only 23% of government schools, specialist teachers teach music.

This is a scandalous state of affairs.

Studying music as a vital aspect of our arts and culture, teaches children about giving and compassion, providing them with a glimpse into other cultures and the lifestyle they have enjoyed.

Educating children about the works of classical music composers has also been proven to be paramount in assisting a child’s brain to develop language skills, logic and reasoning. They will also learn how to evaluate and admire each other, discovering how to make decisions that lead to respect for difference at an early age.

The facts also show that on average, primary school teachers receive only seventeen hours of mandatory music education in their undergraduate degrees and those that do qualify as teachers through postgraduate awards, average only 10 hours a week teaching music.

In Finland, classroom teachers, who have had around 350 hours of music education teach most primary school children music. Some have had double that.

The music education that I received in the public school environment during the 1950’s in Australia has stood me in good stead all of my life.

Learning music and singing in choirs that started during my primary school years has also certainly provided me with with a lifetime of both joy and pleasure.

It has also meant that from my early adult years I have been continuously and actively involved in some way in supporting and sponsoring the growth of the Australian music experience.

Allegory of Music by Laurent de La Hyre (French, Paris 1606-1656 Paris) painted 1649 courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Music is the perfect way to develop a child’s means of self-expression and to help them to develop their ability to realize what is it they want, what it is they feel, how to be in touch with their inner self and soul and to develop their own decision making skills and self-esteem, a vital and very important by-product.

A sound musical education will result in classrooms full of ‘engaged, interested minds’ with an increased capacity to ‘think, perceive, analyse and act’.


Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

Ref: The Music Trust website
The Music Council of Australia website
Richard Gill: Music holds key to providing a quality education system – August 12, 2013

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