Issues emerging from Richard Gill’s TEDxSYDNEY talk

A summary of the issues, as compared to the exploration of the talk itself. 1. The need for a definition of ‘properly taught music’ if this is to be put forward as a “right of every child in every circumstance”. Richard Gill gave anecdotal examples of music education experiences he has facilitated, but his talk did not outline what he believed ‘properly taught music’ would look like in the classrooms of the future. Does it involve individualised instrumental tuition for every student? Does it involve every child in Australia learning to read music notation? Does it involve students developing a social understanding of music, studying it as another ‘text’ that is presented to them in 21st century life? And Richard Gill was keen on singing – how does that fit in? Is group performance important for every child too? And what about composing music and writing songs? 2. An urgent need to recognise that asserting the intrinsic meaningless of music

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Richard Gill at TEDxSYDNEY 2011

Warning: this post is a detailed analysis that goes for nearly 5000 words. Alright then. You have been warned! TEDxSYDNEY is had its second outing this last weekend, and I was rather late to the party. The Sydney Morning Herald guide to TEDxSYDNEY the day or two before was my first notice that it was on. Glancing through the lineup of speakers I was thrilled to see that Richard Gill was featured in the second session of the day. Richard Gill is a champion of music education in Australia, and he is a voice of reason in many a┬ápublic debate about the arts. Richard Gill’s contributions to musical life in Australia range from leading the Victorian Opera as well as conducting and commissioning new works all the way through to working in classrooms with young children. He is much respected and, I think it is no exaggeration to say, beloved! His inclusion as a speaker at TEDxSYDNEY 2011 was both

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Some of the things that have been on my mind

In contrast to my normal 1000 word blog entries, today’s is one of my “quick – make a list of all things I want to blog about” pieces. Last week (for the first time) I joined in a twitter conversation held every Tuesday at 11am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time called #musedchat. It’s an hour of thought-exchange between music educators, most of whom are working in classroom contexts, most of those it seems working with high school aged students. Last week’s topic looked at ways of assessing musical understanding, and I loved each of the 60 minutes spent involved in that conversation. Most music assessment looks at a student’s ability to do something, usually performing a technical feat, or recognising a musical occurrence, being able to label something appropriately, and so forth – many things which are not necessarily measuring a student’s understanding. Which raises the question, how much music education is directed to increasing or deepening understanding? I spent

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