Case Study: “Giving the Gift of Music” Hand in Hand – ANU School of Music
This case study was prepared as part of collaboration between Music: Count Us In and the Music in Communities Network. A Music Australia initiative.
It’s a win for everybody “The process is very much a partnership. We believe that you learn as much from your students as they do from you, and that when they take their music out into the community, they are partners with the community.” – Dr Susan West
ANU academic, Dr Susan West’s work in developing pre-tertiary music programs and post-graduate teacher training is at the cutting edge of music education. Her philosophy centres on the idea that music-making is our birthright and that the role of music education is simply to support the natural wish for musical involvement – a philosophy that led her to establish the community outreach program, Hand-in-Hand.
Hand-in-Hand is a part of the Music Engagement Program (MEP), established by Dr West over 20 years ago, and now convened by music educator, Georgia Pike. The Program has spread throughout the ACT and has trained over 500 teachers and engaged more than 40000 school students in music over the last 10 years. The Program is funded by the local ACT Government, and is free of charge for residents of the ACT.
Hand-in-Hand sees teachers from participating primary and secondary schools trained to educate their students about music, so that the students can then take their music out into the community.
Young singers learn some common repertoire then arrive at, say, a nursing home and – literally – sing hand in hand with an elderly resident. Dr West says the program emphasises the positive influence of children’s music in the lives of others and the positive impact this musical interaction has on participants:
There is a particular focus on involving this shared music-making with those with specific disabilities and those in care facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
“They have the opportunity to experience Hand-in-Hand outreach at local care facilities as a part of their training. Once a teacher has completed the training course, they can ask MEP staff to support them in their classroom, and to help them prepare for and run a Hand-in-Hand event.
Many of our teachers are generalists, who would otherwise not be engaging in music. Specialists feel supported and generalists feel re-engaged.
“MEP staff members help each school to build lasting and sustainable partnerships with nearby facilities and community centres. The ultimate goal is to build partnerships that can sustain themselves, without the need for MEP staff, providing school communities with a feeling of empowerment and ownership. Many of our teachers are generalists, who would otherwise not be engaging in music. Specialists feel supported and generalists feel re-engaged. It’s a win for everybody.”
Dr West adds: “The process is very much a partnership. We believe that you learn as much from your students as they do from you, and that when they take their music out into the community, they are partners with the community. Whether the participants are elderly people in nursing homes or children with special needs, they always contribute and give back in an active way. It’s never a passive process of students performing for other people. They engage with people through music, which acts as a communications bridge.
We realised that our face to face music education teaching just wasn’t reaching enough people. So we started to train the trainer, and train the trainer who would then train the trainer. After that, it just exploded and we have been able to reach out to far more people than we originally thought possible.
70 over 7
In the innovative “Seventy Over Seven” repertoire program, school children have chosen 10 songs for each year of primary school. These songs are now developing into a shared repertoire throughout the ACT. Great idea!
A range of research projects has developed though the Hand-in-Hand program such as an innovative repertoire set, the Seventy Over Seven Song Series, where school children have chosen 10 songs for each year of primary school. These songs are now developing into a shared repertoire throughout the ACT.
Research undertaken at the ANU medical school also shows the program has a strong impact on nursing home residents and, through work at the ACT Jervis Bay School, the program is also showing positive impacts on the indigenous community, through shared music making between staff and students.
The Hand-in-Hand approach on instrumental music education is now being further developed by graduate students. Soon the MEP Curriculum will be available, in response to the imminent National Curriculum for the arts.
Pictured: Students connect with older people in the community through music, “hand in hand” and Students from the “hand in hand” program