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 public 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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Is music really all that important?

Back in 2004 the Australian federal government announced that it would fund a comprehensive survey of music education with a view to making recommendations for changes to benefit school children across the country. Unsurprisingly (to me, and I’m sure many other musician-educators) this comprehensive survey found that primary school children receive not too much music education throughout primary school, primary school teachers do not receive adequate training in music education, and specialist music teachers are no longer being recruited to primary schools.  Most schools have paltry resources with which to provide music education, and most children do not have access to instrumental tuition.  There are exceptions: Queensland has operated a strong instrumental tuition program in primary schools for years, some private schools are as well resourced as universities (possibly better than some). So now we know the facts. Should the elimination of music in a child’s primary education be a cause for concern?  On Monday Dick Letts, the head of

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