Last week over 60 teachers from across Australia came together at the Adelaide Festival Centre to take part in the annual National Music Teacher Mentoring Program (NMTMP) Conference.
The program seeks to improve the quality of music education for all Australian primary school students through the mentoring of generalist classroom teachers by experienced music educators. Grounded in vocal-based training with a strong focus on musical literacy and creativity, participating teachers gain the confidence and skills to deliver the program in their classrooms, thereby giving a greater number of students access to quality music education. The program was founded by the late Richard Gill AO, one of Australia’s foremost music educators, and is implemented under the auspices of the Australian Youth Orchestra.
The focus of the NMTMP conference is the training of new mentors and the continued upskilling of current mentors within the program. With mentors working autonomously throughout much of the year, the annual conference also provides a valuable opportunity for them to come together and share their experiences, learn from one another, and jointly tackle any obstacles that they might have encountered.
The recent unveiling of the Government of South Australia’s music education strategy also presented the opportunity for SA representatives to share these plans with mentors from other states at the conference.
Since its inception in 2015, NMTMP has reached over 7000 students in 161 schools – with 91 mentors upskilling 307 primary classroom teachers during this time. Mentoring is a cost-effective way of utilising existing expertise to upskill classroom teachers. The actual and potential benefits for children are multi-faceted and considerable.
The University of Queensland has evaluated the effectiveness of the program, and the research has demonstrated the substantial impact of music on learning in a range of non-musical domains, including literacy and numeracy. Music is also able to enhance students’ rational and abstract thinking, concentration levels, memory, time management, self-esteem and social skills. The research has also shown significant improvement in the confidence and competence of classroom teachers in teaching music, and a lift in classroom dynamics and staff morale.
As NMTMP continues to develop and grow it’s wonderful to witness the program’s vision coming gradually to fruition. With continued support and a dedicated team of mentors we can ensure that every child in Australia should have access to quality music education.