Since 2015 the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program has grown from a vision held by the late Richard Gill to a nationwide program providing valuable skills to teachers around Australia, and impacting thousands of young classroom students. This year over 75 schools and 150 teachers were enrolled to be mentored, which will bring music education into the classrooms of over 3,400 primary school students across Australia.
In the past months the program has felt immense impact as a result of the pandemic, with the numerous restrictions preventing the annual in-person training of new mentors. To solve this problem we looked to the resourcefulness of online material and remote training sessions, and developed online offerings in the form of New Mentor Training through virtual modules, and on Zoom, as well as the creation of a range of videos designed for students in remote learning. This has enabled educators from all over Australia to access these much-needed resources.
The National Music Teacher Mentoring Program in action. A classroom teacher uses her newly developed skills to teach her students.
New Mentor Online Training
This professional learning program online has connected teachers with experienced mentors and virtual modules that they were currently unable to access face-to-face.
An evidence-based study from Professor Margaret Barrett at the University of Queensland into the effectiveness of the program found mentoring significantly improves confidence and competence of classroom teachers, providing them with the capability to plan music lessons effectively, manage multiple groups and teach complex musical content.
Similar research findings note that, as more teachers apply their newly acquired skills, this results in young students showing improved engagement, a better understanding of music and a greater sense of wellbeing, with children themselves noting the positive impact on their mental health.
As more teachers apply this, according to similar research findings on the program, young students across Australia will have improved engagement, musical outcomes and wellbeing, with children themselves noting the positive impact on their mental health.
“Overall, the findings suggest that employing specialist music mentors to guide and support generalist teachers in an intensive program can deliver positive changes in their students’ singing skills and attitudes to music.”
This year 31 new mentors took part in the program and will now be able to apply their mentoring skills and music education knowledge in classrooms or through remote teaching across Australia. Lead mentor Danielle Abbott shared her insights into the success of the online program on Twitter.
The Rhymes and Songs Series
In addition to new online training, the program has been working on the development of some new digital learning resources. The Rhymes and Songs series introduces a musical experience that encourages both young students and teachers to engage in listening, learning, singing and playing while enhancing key learning pathways. These video-based music lessons are presented by lead music teacher mentors Danielle Abbott and Susan Sukkar, who perform a range of rhymes and songs from the much loved series Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and How I Wonder, put together by the late Richard Gill. This series will act as an engaging resource for the national community of teachers, parents and aspiring mentees of the program now and into the future.
The Song of The Bee and Bim Bam from the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program Rhymes and Songs series
In an early childhood study on shared music activities, research found that frequency of music activities from a young age significantly and positively correlated with vocabulary, numeracy, attentional and emotional regulation, and prosocial skills. These positive developments for children were unique to music activities including dancing, singing and playing instruments.
AYO Chief Executive Officer, Colin Cornish, describes the impact that the program continues to have upon children across Australia.
“Since the program began, almost 40,000 students nationwide have been affected, offering them a musical education they would not otherwise have. Supporting musical development in early childhood has the potential to instil a lifelong love of music and increase the value of music for generations to come. There remains an inconsistency between schools across the country in providing children with access to quality music education. The National Music Teacher Mentoring Program aims to bridge this gap and ensure that every child in Australia has access to the same opportunities as their peers nationwide.”
- National Music Teacher Mentoring Program – Summary of Research Findings: University of Queensland
- Strengthening music provision in early childhood education: a collaborative self-development approach to music mentoring for generalist teachers, Music Education Research: Margaret S. Barrett, Katie Zhukov & Graham F. Welch (2019)
- Associations between early shared music activities in the home and later child outcomes: Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly: Kate E. Williams, Margaret S. Barrett, Graham F. Welch, Vicky Abad, Mary Broughton (2015)