Music Education

A key focus for Music Australia is school music education. The benefits of music education have been proven time and again by decades of research, and they’re experienced every day by Australian teachers and students who actively engage and participate in music making.

Learning music can help students’ self-confidence, self-discipline and team work. Music helps students progress in other important learning areas such as Maths and English. Indeed, countries with a strong focus on music education tend to have higher scores in literacy and numeracy. Engaging music programs have been shown to help with attendance and can be particularly beneficial for students who are not achieving well in school.

All of this evidence for music’s extrinsic benefits make a strong case for music education, but should not overshadow the sheer joy people experience making music, nor the value of the artform itself.

I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but more importantly music; for in the patterns of music and all the arts, are the keys to learning. – Plato

Unfortunately, most Australian kids are missing out on the many benefits of music education in school. As few as 23% of State schools are able to provide their students an effective education. In the private system, it’s closer to 88%.

Music: Count Us In students sing in PerthAt Music Australia, we are committed to advocating for and enabling fair access to music education for all Australians, young and old. Our advocacy work has been particularly strong for school music, but we also support lifelong learning in music through our Music in Communities Network.

The Seares Report: “Augmenting the Diminished” (DEST, 2005) outlined the state of music education in Australia. Released in November 2005, the report followed a federally-funded national review into school music education during which submissions were sought from the public. There were almost 6000 received, at least 4300 of which were from Music. Play for Life supporters – a Music Australia initiative. This was an unprecedented public response to a national enquiry and demonstrates passionate support for all Australian school children having the opportunity to learn music.

Since 2007, Music Australia has managed Australia’s largest music education program, Music: Count Us In, among other programs and campaigns. Committed to promoting music education, we offer:

In Australia, music education delivery varies in different states and regions. While the introduction of an Australian curriculum is aimed at working towards a more consistent approach, each state currently offers a different program.

Music Is Good Eight  Facts About School Music

An education inclusive of music maximises student opportunity.  
Music maximises student engagement and provides opportunities for a child’s personal development. It makes a contribution to a child’s individual development that no other subject can match. Young people who engage with music are more likely to be “better citizens”. Music helps underperforming students to improve. Incorporating music into other subjects, including key learning areas, helps kids to learn. (References 1-5)

Australian parents value music and want their kids to be involved.
90% of Australian parents advocate for music education and think that music is an essential part of a young child’s learning. Parents are some of the greatest advocates for music education and they are often best positioned to fight for their child’s right to access quality learning opportunities in music. Many programs like Music: Count Us In work with parents and guardians around the country to deliver learning and performance opportunities for all children.

Music improves confidence, self-expression and fosters creativity.
Music is a powerful tool in enhancing health and wellbeing. Creating and performing music can improve a young person’s sense of self-worth and promote positive self-confidence. Creating, learning and performing music is rewarding for children in many ways. It helps them to express themselves and allows an opportunity for them to feel valued. Music facilitates and nurtures emotional growth by teaching students about responsibility, expression and assessment.
(Reference 6)

Music promotes teamwork and collaboration.
Making music with other people helps to establish a culture of tolerance and acceptance. Creating and experiencing music as a group leads young people to understand and value diversity. It promotes sharing, listening and encourages social growth by asking students to work together. Children learn to respect the opinions and ideas of others through making music collaboratively and have the chance to celebrate the things that make people different. (References 7-9)

Music develops neural pathways and enhances brain function.
Music stimulates incomparable development of a child’s brain and leads to improved concentration and memory abilities. Physical changes to the brain and cognitive improvements through music are measurable in many ways. Most notably, MRI shows that musical tasks can activate all 4 lobes of the brain, as well as parts of the cerebellum. Music, quite literally, gets the whole brain working. (References 10-18)

Australia lags behind other countries in provision of school music.
The world’s leading nations all include music as a core subject. Countries like Hungary, Japan and Netherlands have strong commitments to music in their schools from early primary years. This commitment is reflected in terms of academic results in these top performing countries. Australia can learn from improved provision of music education from places like the United Kingdom.

Too many kids miss out on quality music education at school.
For music education to be effective, it must be continuous, sequential and developmental. Music education is for everyone and should not be a privilege of the wealthy. All students should have the opportunity to access music education. Pre-service primary teachers barely receive any training to establish or develop skills and confidence in teaching music. This is just one of the reasons that students miss out on music at schools. (References 19-20)

Music is good for Australia’s social, cultural and economic growth.
Skills learned through music are valued and needed in everyday life. Music celebrates and facilitates diversity and accessibility – encouraging people to work together and experience new things with others. Music underpins Australia’s creative sectors and supports the development of other industries. Those who actively engage with music develop skills that are valued by Australian businesses.

For a full list of reference sources for these facts visit the full advocacy resource kit.


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