Introducing the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program

Monday 20 July, 2015 

The AYO is extremely pleased to host the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program, designed and directed by Richard Gill OAM to increase access to quality music education for all Australian primary school students. Thanks to support from the Australian Government AYO will host the three-year program, providing project management, mentoring resources, and advocacy to this initiative. We are fortunate to have secured the services of Bernadette McNamara as project manager for this pilot who together with Richard Gill has been rolling the program out around the nation.

Richard Gill, who has been passionate about installing comprehensive musical education programs into every school in Australia, believes that teaching music will reap countless benefits.  “[music] requires the most intensive concentration, and listening” said Gill. “To get music, you really have to listen, and when children listen with direction and concentration, their focus goes up spectacularly… and the evidence points to the fact that a structured program of music education has benefits in all learning.”

Thanks to the immediate support of the NSW Department of Education, mentors began implementing their knowledge in NSW schools in March. Later this year the pilot will expand to Western Australia. The program aims to train up 29 mentors by the end of this year, who will mentor 116 teachers across 58 schools across regional and metropolitan areas. The Four Winds Festival plays a vital role in supporting the training of two of the seven mentors in New South Wales. Training will continue in 2016, with more mentors joining the program.

This program utilises the skills and experience of specialist music teachers to mentor generalist classroom teachers initially in primary schools. The program commences with training for the mentors before they head into their designated schools to work with teachers on developing a learning program for the class. On average, mentors will each train four teachers with whom they will work closely to develop a program of work for their students.

Teachers will use singing as the basis for the activities undertaken by the children. Richard Gill explains that music is not just about playing instruments. “The point is not to make them all musicians… they need the music so they can understand how to listen” said Gill, “It’s about singing… all music education should start with singing.” Once children learn to sing a range of songs across different genres, they can begin to read music, and even dabble in composition. Through the program, teachers will gain a foundational skill set that will help them introduce music into classrooms in a way that is fun, educational, and comprehensive.

Stay tuned for more updates on this fantastic program.