The National Music Teacher Mentoring Program is now in its third year, and has gone from strength to strength since its conception in 2015.
The program aims to improve the quality of music teaching in Australian primary schools, and pairs experienced music educators with generalist classroom teachers to provide them with the training and mentoring they need in order to become proficient in primary music education.
Earlier this month, 50 mentors from around the country travelled to Tasmania for a three-day training workshop; the first of its kind, as until now training programs have been held in small state groups. This national event was led by the program’s director Richard Gill AO, and gave representatives from each state a chance to meet and share their feedback and ideas.
The workshops were held at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art. The museum generously donated the use of its lecture rooms for the event. MONA currently runs the 24 Carrot Gardens project, which provides children from Tasmanian schools with education in agriculture, culinary arts and sustainability. After the success of this project, the museum has decided to take a step in the direction of arts education, and has raised its hand to contribute to the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program.
The program’s positive results are undeniable, with documented improvements in student engagement and higher levels of teacher confidence and competence in music education. School principals identified lack of confidence as one of the main impediments to classroom teachers undertaking more music education in the classroom. As music education is unfamiliar territory to many primary school teachers, the introduction of this program has enabled music to become a part of everyday lessons, proving that with a little familiarity comes confidence. The program has also been welcomed by primary students, whose enthusiasm, confidence and general attitude towards music improved as a result. Interestingly, the increase in attentiveness, interest and singing ability among students showed no correlation with the socio-economic standing of the school, attesting to the fact that with quality mentoring every child in Australia can experience the same benefits from this outstanding program.