National Music Teacher Mentoring Program making a difference

AYO NMTMP Richard Gill OAMThe National Music Teacher Mentoring Program (NMTMP) is making a real difference in the lives of children across Australia. The brain-child of Richard Gill OAM, one of Australia’s foremost music educators, the program seeks to improve the quality of music education through the mentoring of generalist classroom teachers by experienced music educators.

The vision of the NMTMP is to make high-quality music mentoring available to generalist classroom teachers across Australia, so that every primary school child has access to quality music education. Gill is committed to music education and works on the program pro bono and is implemented under the auspices of the Australian Youth Orchestra.

The Program is being formally evaluated by the University of Queensland with a report due in June 2017. The interim findings highlight the solid basis and rationale for the deployment of the NMTMP to all Australian primary schools. Mentoring is a cost-effective way of utilising existing expertise to upskill classroom teachers. The actual and potential benefits for children are multi-faceted and considerable.

There is much research that demonstrates the impact of music on learning in a range of non-musical domains, including literacy and numeracy. Music is able to enhance rational and abstract thinking, student concentration levels, memory and time management, along with improved levels of self-esteem and social skills.

“I strongly believe in the value and joy that music brings to each and every one of us,” says Richard Gill, OAM. “That’s why I champion the serious business of teaching music properly in our schools. We have long known the benefits of a continuous and sequential music education on all learning and this program creates opportunities to bring the power of music to all classrooms in Australia.”

In 18 months the NMTMP has surpassed all expectations in terms of participation and student, teacher, mentor and school outcomes. Teachers have improved confidence and competence in the teaching of music and there is an improvement in student engagement, music outcomes and student wellbeing.

Based on feedback from mentors and teachers, 97% of students have shown improvement in their musical competencies. 100% of teachers mentored have demonstrated improvement in their teaching competencies and confidence. 100% of mentors have improved professional confidence. Teachers who have been mentored have begun providing guidance to other generalist teachers on how to implement a music education program. It has spread like fire across schools was one mentor’s observation.

It has commenced in four of the eight Australian education jurisdictions: New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Discussions have been held with Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The Program has so far reached 64 schools, 35 mentors, 122 teachers and 2700 students.

A number of principals from across the program have commented – “as a program it offers professional learning that is real and meaningful because it’s actually in the classroom”; “it’s sustainable because by the time they’ve finished the mentoring program, the mentee is confident and can move beyond that and it will keep going”; and “it’s had a positive impact on their attitude and their engagement in work and a bit of excitement about doing something very different.”

A mentor has said, “we are now looking forward to teaching our new team member the songs that were taught to us. Now four teachers are mentoring more teachers – the impact will be measurable in the future. The program has created a buzz around the school. I have visited other classrooms to teach songs/chants/rhymes.”

The National Music Teacher Mentoring Pilot Program is supported by the Australian Government. For more information, visit: www.ayo.com.au for details.

Image: Richard Gill OAM (supplied)

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