Conductor and music education advocate Richard Gill is in early discussions with as yet unnamed tertiary institution to form a National Institute of Music Teaching involved in the practice and research teaching music. He also wants to see all lecturers in music education in the country’s tertiary sector spend 50 per cent their time teaching in school classrooms.
He put forward these ideas in the 17th Annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, which he delivered in Sydney and Melbourne. Gill explained that music education needs to be strengthened across Australian schools, saying that “that every child in Australia should have access to a thoroughly qualified and properly trained music teacher”, and “that we teach music so that children can make their own music – that is new music”.
Gill’s central point was that the job of promoting new music should begin with children – “if you approach them at the right age, before biases and musical tastes are created, children will readily accept a whole range of music and approach it fearlessly,” he said.
“In the schools is where the music of the future will be found. This is where the new creative minds will be developed, where boundaries will be explored, where technology will be better understood by the new generations than any preceding generation and where we hope brave new worlds of imagination, new thoughts and new inventions will emerge.”
Gill’s hope is that the Australian Society of Music Education (ASME) will serve as primary lobbying platform for change because, as the peak professional body, it is “founded purely for the purposes of advocating music education”.
The National Institute of Music Teaching he is proposing “would be a specialist institution involving practice and research into the teaching of music and would encompass all aspects of music including music of the popular cultures,” he said. “It would also have a school attached as a demonstration school encompassing classes from pre-school to upper primary, and would be in essence, a teacher training facility.”
Gill already directs a National Music Teachers Mentoring program in conjunction with the Australian Youth Orchestra. This “harnesses resources which already exist, in the form of specialist teachers working as mentors alongside other teachers”. But the next thing he wants to do to raise the profile of music teaching is to encourage music education academics back into schools for fifty per cent of their teaching time. This would be “so that the students to whom they lecture on method and classroom procedures can see their own lecturers teaching”.
The full text of Gill’s address, entitled ‘The Case for New Music’, can be found here.