65 invitations were issued and 19 responses were received in what we consider a pilot survey. Two reminders were sent. We are told informally that school personnel receive so many invitations to complete surveys that there is now a strong resistance to doing so. The response rate is disappointing but the main intention was not statistical; rather, we sought narrative responses to questions around the perceived effects of the music program on aspects of achievement by students and the school.

The list of invitees was assembled through recommendations of people expert in the field who by one means or another are in a position to assess which schools are successful: for instance, through supervising the intake of students to university music programs, or placement of trainee music teachers in schools for practical experience.

The reason for surveying only schools thought to have good music programs is, we hope, obvious. The mere existence of a music program should not be expected to result in the benefits that research suggests can follow continuing student engagement with music education. A poorly taught music program may actually alienate students. Positive results surely would depend upon a good quality program.

Characteristics of the Sample

1. Responding schools

21% did not respond to the question about school affiliation. 37% did not respond to the question about location. It is a concern that there may be no Catholic school respondents.

Primary schools are not as well represented as secondary schools. Since all subjects in secondary schools, including music, are taught by specialist teachers, but in most primary schools music education is the responsibility of the classroom teacher who, in Australia, on average, has received little music education, it would follow that there will be more secondary schools than primary schools reputed to have good music education programs.

2. Is your school officially a disadvantaged school?

18/19 responded.

Yes – 17% No – 83%


Type of school

The disadvantaged schools are government schools.

3. Is your school officially a specialist music school?

16/19 responded. Can we assume that the three non-respondents would have answered no?

Yes – 13% No – 87%

There is some advantage in receiving responses from schools that have not been singled out to receive greater resourcing in music. They are more easily emulated by other “normal” schools.


Type of school

Recall that not all respondents answered the question asking for them to identify as a government, Catholic or independent school. Therefore, the correlations offered by the survey instrument can be a little confusing.

There appear to be no Catholic schools in the sample. The comparisons therefore are between government and independent schools.

From the responses available, there is one government and one independent specialist school.

4. How many students are there at your school?

At the one responding kindergarten, there are 80 children. At the schools — see right-hand table

Note that empty categories have not been included, e.g. 300-400.

There are 3 small schools, 2 of which are primary schools. There is a cluster in the 600-800 area, and then a scatter from 900 to 2000. All of the latter are secondary schools or combined primary and secondary.

Information about the Music Programs

5. In what year was music education introduced into your school?

18/19 responded. One did not know. It is remarkable that nearly all of the others could cite a specific year.

In brief summary (% out of 17, right-hand table)

The main purpose of asking this question was to be able to ask the next.

6. Were you there at the time?

19 responded. 21% were there.

These respondents would be in a position to experience before and after effects of the introduction of the music program.

There is a study waiting to be done of the experiences of principals of schools with good music programs who were there when they were introduced. However, given the difficulties in identifying such schools and principals when some systems maintain so little oversight of music programs, more resources would be required than are available to this organisation.

7. Approximately what percentage of students participate in music activities?

19 responded.

6 of the 19 have policies that every child will participate in the music program. Only one of these is a secondary school. 4 are primary schools and one is the kindergarten.

8. At what levels, if any, is music education mandatory for all students?

All 19 responded. As discovered in the previous question, all but one of the primary schools in our sample require music participation of all students in all grades. In the primary years of three additional schools, music is mandatory.

In six schools, music is mandatory in years 7-8. This is a requirement in NSW. In one WA school, music is mandatory in years 8-9 – the first two years of secondary school. In 3 schools there is no mandatory requirement.

9. At what year levels is music offered only as an elective?

The secondary schools responded: years 8 and above or 9 and above.

10. Do students receive music education every week throughout the year?

In all the responding schools, students received music education throughout the year and not part year, or in discontinuous blocks. This is consistent with the general view within the profession and the recommendation of e.g. the National Review of School Music Education, that music education should be sequential, developmental and continuous.

11. Musical activities offered, whether during or outside class time

19 responded, 14 commented.

a. Classroom music – 100% of respondents b. Marching, concert or large jazz band – 58% c. Orchestra – 68% (In one school, a listening activity only) d. Choir, singing groups – 53% (Choir mandatory in 2 schools) e. Rock or other contemporary music bands – 58% f. Multicultural music groups – 26% g. Music theatre projects – 68% h. Other – 42%

“Other” includes chamber ensembles, folk groups, barbershop quartets, “special purpose groups”, chapel worship bands, solo performances, community events, music camps


Type of school

From the incomplete data, independent schools are more likely to have an orchestra and music theatre projects than government schools. Government schools are more likely to have multicultural music groups.

12. Does your school use computer music technologies for instructional or performance purposes?

All responded.

Yes: 95%.

13. Does your school host live performances or workshops by professional musicians?

All responded.

Yes: 89%.

One school mentions its involvement with the Dandenong Ranges Music Council, a community organisation that helps to bridge the gap between schools and professional performers, among other things.

14-15. Do parents/students pay for all of part of the music program at your school?

  • By fundraising for the program generally? – 47%
  • Through specific payments for a service – e.g instrumental lessons? 63%
  • As part of an overall school fee? – 42%
  • No, the program is entirely paid for by the state system. – 11%

All responded.


With category of school

Note that although government schools form 42% of the sample, in only 11% of the sample (both are government schools) are all costs met by the government.

Schools in both of the systems rely on all three sources of private funds listed above. A higher percentage of government schools depend on general fundraising than do the independents, while the situation is reversed for specific fees for service and overall school fee.

16. Are those who teach music at your school specialist music teachers or generalist classroom teachers?

All responded.

This question is in a sense only relevant to primary schools since secondary schools do not have generalist teachers.


With category of school

Only some government schools (11% of sample) exclusively used generalist classroom teachers to teach music. Three schools used both specialist and generalist teachers. But the great majority (74%) used specialist teachers only. This is consistent with the fact that most schools in the sample are secondary schools.

17. Do you recruit students to your school based on the presence of the music program?

All responded.

37% do not.

Otherwise, the percentages of the sample following these strategies stated in the questionnaire are:

a. Offer music scholarships: 32% b. Promote through the media, or public performances: 47% c. Recruit to secondary school through primary schools in the area: 26%


With category of school

All of those who do not recruit through the music program are government schools.

The government schools are about twice as likely as the independent schools to recruit students from primary schools. However, only four schools identified as government schools do so.

The independent schools appear to be five times more likely to recruit through offering scholarships and 70% more likely to recruit through the media or public performances.

Experiences and Observations of the Principals

These questions asked for narrative answers.

18. What changes have there been in your school that you believe you can attribute to the introduction and/or development of the music program?

All responded.

Although it makes for a lengthy document, the richest information can come from direct quotation of the responses. Some have been edited to reduce length or deleted if they did not address the question.

Some responses describe the development of the music program rather than its effects. We have left a few of these intact.

• School spirit and pride can be strengthened by musical successes * World stage profiling with international competition successes and an enhanced confidence to tackle more complex work *Provides an exciting, learner centred platform for community engagement. (MLC, about which the documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert was made.)

• The present Music program started two and a half years ago with the arrival of two new music teachers and the launch of a community of schools performing arts project. The first project that developed significant change was the schools involvement in the Wot Opera program with twenty students writing and then performing their own opera over a five week period with a night performance at Parramatta Riverside Theatre. This project convinced me that the school was not meeting the needs of the many talented music students in the school and was also not taking advantage of the school music program in influencing the development of school culture.

I then asked the Music teachers to put on music performances on each of our school assemblies. This quickly resulted in a transformation of our assemblies with more and more students seeking to perform. The high school also helped facilitate four feeder primary schools’ participation in the WOT Opera program with all primary schools performing their individual operas in the high school hall. High school students mentored each of the primary schools.

Following the success of this project the high school set out to put on a rock opera. Over a 15 week period over sixty students were involved in writing the opera which included eight original songs. The Eagle Rock Opera was performed over two nights to a community audience. The success of the Eagle Rock Opera gave the students and staff in the school a new confidence in their individual abilities. The influence of the music program was starting to impact in a positive way on the whole school as all students started to develop a new pride in both themselves and the school. (Eagle Vale High School)

Here an intensive, unusual, creative program instigated musical development which appears to have had a transforming effect on the school. It began with an injection from a very talented provider but did not end there because the school’s own staff was capable of carrying through.

• Over the years there has been an improvement in the music program due to the qualified teachers employed. Our school instrumental program consists of violins, cellos, flute. clarinet, saxophone, voice, piano, drums and guitar and a specialty group keyboard program. [Describes very diverse ensemble program.]

By implementing a sequential program of music since Prep, the students have developed remarkably. We teach recorder in Years 3 and 4 and Ukulele in Years 5 and 6. We also have a dance program incorporated in this combined Performing Arts program. As a member of AMUSE I have access to all programs and professional development. Our school performs at Eisteddfods, Oxfam Concerts and school/community concerts. Many students learn an instrument privately and are members of the National/Australian Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs. We have a Musical every 2nd year involving the whole school and an Arts Festival every other year. (Primary school)

The importance of good teachers, a continuous sequential program, live performance…

• I believe that music in our school gives students another ‘language’ with which to communicate. It is essential in the development of oral language, rhyme and rhythm made more prominent by the English Australian Curriculum – we actively encourage our early years classes in particular to use music, movement and dance as much as possible in the classrooms for learning and the students really enjoy this- it aids their memory retention of days of the week, months of the year, counting, alphabet etc. The school choir also gives our students a leisure activity (lunchtimes) as well as developing vocal skills and the importance of working together as a community and a team. (Primary school)

Music as an aid to learning other subjects, memory, cooperation.

• There are two key areas. Firstly, what I term as the soul of the school. It is that indefinable quality that starts to permeate through your school with the overlap of dedicated students who are also involved in performance. Secondly, it has brought the community into the school and the community knows that we have a superior music program and they experience it in community functions etc. We also attract enrolments purely for our musical offering We have a K-12 continuum because we lend 2 of our teachers to work in the local primary school. It is our nursery.

Music as the source of the school’s spirit, “soul”, an outlet for dedicated students; music as the point of connection with community, its external reputation and involvement, attractor of enrolments; point of connection, also, with feeder schools.

• Many more young people now engage with a vast tradition – or series of traditions – of creativity, discipline and quality. Many more now develop a skill, which can be valuable to them forever, to a higher level. They can take pride in their skill. They can enjoy the fabulous pleasure of public performance.

• There is a deep respect and community recognition for the Musical talents and gifts of our students and staff. It is a given at our college that the Music program is one of quality, highly regarded and well supported by the college and the community. In testament to our program, last year we opened our new Music Centre with 8 Instrumental Practice rooms, 2 rehearsal rooms, a research centre, a Music Technology lab, general classrooms, staff room, instrument stores and reception office, half funded from a bequest from a lover of Music. Music teachers are responding to the new facilities with initiatives in the technology area in particular.

Success breeding success.

• Ongoing support of the music program from the Principal and School Council – increased contribution to the community and highly positive feedback and response in light of it – enthusiasm of students to opt into the program – sense of commitment from students, staff and The Parents and Friends of Music support team – excellence in music is an attractive enrolment motivation – showcasing of music at school events – opportunities for performances external to the school, including a choir tour of four European countries – enhanced facilities including dedicated rehearsal rooms – increased staffing of programs with locally raised funds.

The value of parents’ support.

• Provide academic focused and aspirational students with additional opportunities to grow and benefit from exposure to music courses. Attracts aspirational families to the school even if there are no places for them due to accommodation pressures.

• I want to say at the beginning what my biases are. These have been formed after long years as a principal and my involvement with a wide circle of intellectually focussed music advocates and a wide study of educational innovation. I am not a musician but I embrace and engage with Music on many levels. I hold a strong conviction for all the Arts. I strongly advocate the principle and the practices of music and the Arts being included in the core curriculum. [Through development of the music program Monbulk Primary has forged] intellectual, curriculum support and physical connections with the Music Faculty at Melbourne University. This linked with the existing engagement with Richard Gill, Music Council of Australia, Rhonda Davidson-Irwin, Professor John Izard and Dandenong Ranges Music Council…

• An intensive, comprehensive Music Program has been a part of Perth Modern School for over 40 years. For the past 8 or so years, the school has become a totally academic select school, during that time the music program has seen an increase in the total numbers of students studying music. It is seen as a vital part of the school’s curriculum and extra-curricular programs. Music ensembles rehearse before and after school every day and on Saturday mornings – multiple ensembles at all times. The music program is also a concrete way in which parents can become closely involved with the life of the school, boosting the strength of parent / school relationships. Despite the huge increase in alternative opportunities since the change in enrolment procedures, music remains the most important co-curricular program by far, and has remained as one of the strongest performing academic subjects.

• Our children have a strong sense of agency- they are performers and makers of music, not merely passive consumers. Also, being a highly complex, multicultural centre, music brings the group together in shared experience and promotes a shared culture, strengthening social bonding of the whole group. The music programme gives children who are not articulate in other ways, or who may not have English, a way to participate and shine within the curriculum.

This is the kindergarten respondent.

• The appointment of a new Director of Music The introduction of the IB Diploma The building of a new Performing Arts Centre The introduction of the Saints Performing Arts Academy The introduction of a designated Music Camp at the beginning of each School Year The careful selection of instrumental music staff and staff involved in the co-curricular program The appointment of a Head of the Arts Introduction of criteria relating to student involvement in co-curricular music The introduction of more co-curricular music opportunities. This is interesting in describing the evolution of a successful music program. Respondents in other surveys list the inspiration of teachers as the most important factor in their music education and here is a statement from a school attesting to the care with which it chooses teachers.

19. Academic outcomes. Please comment on changes in academic outcomes (e.g. more motivated students, higher scores in academic subjects…) that may have been influenced by the presence of the music program

All responded.

There is much research that purports to demonstrate improved or higher academic scores for students with a continuing involvement in music education. One of the motivations for this study was the hope that school principals would have seen improved academic outcomes in their music students. Once again, we include excerpts from the responses.

• No official measuring has taken place; however, we are aware of correlations between high achieving girls and their participation in music.

This is a recurring observation. The correlation does not identify causality. From this and some other responses, it appears that high achieving students may be more likely to choose to participate in music.1 Our preferred model is that participation in music results in higher academic achievement! That also has support from some respondents including the next one.

• The academic outcomes of the students directly involved in the music program started to improve with a number of students previously disengaged from learning taking an interest in all their subjects. For the 2012 higher school certificate cohort the music was the best result they achieved out of all their subjects.

• High academic school with prizes in Chess Maths and Literacy.

By definition, the school has a good music program but it is not cited here.

• Students highly motivated, scores in academic subjects are trending upwards.

We might take the implication to be that the students are highly motivated by their music activities. However, high motivation might in other circumstances be caused by other types of activity, including non-arts activity. Is there something unique in motivation by music that has a special effect on academic outcomes?

• Our top Music students are notable top scholars – almost without exception

• Hard to be objective but our students attempt Music 2 extension 2 and score band 6 results. Those same students are your chemistry students, extension students etc.

Again, correlation observed but in which direction does the causality go?

• I think all the expected changes may have occurred but I have no evidence they did. I don’t have any data to describe the impact of the Music program on academic outcomes, however more often than not, we find Music students performing well in their other subjects. We see students who are gifted in Music, also gifted in Mathematics and Physics. When I enrol new students, I always encourage them to take Music, citing advances in neuroscience observations that learning Music assists students in the development of all areas of their studies

• Two Year 12 students achieved perfect scores in VCE music subjects in 2012. Both were selected to perform in Top Acts. Students are attracted to Balwyn High School because of the music program and its extensive subject offerings. High ranking outcomes in competitions and festivals improve academic outcomes. The school always runs two to three Year 9 elective classes and music through to Year 12

• Music is generally a subject scoring above the state mean and therefore, likely to be included in ATAR scores. This assists students in seeking a university place. All students studying WACE Music in 2012 gained a high enough ATAR to be offered a place in a university.(West Australian secondary school)

• Some of our better performing students study music as a part of their program at school. These students usually come to school with a background in music and are looking to continue or consolidate their interest in music when at school. Seldom have I seen the music program have such an impact that it creates quality musicians from beginners or that it motivates already competent musicians to achieve highly. However, the same can be said about most other subjects as well.

• Music students have always been, and remain amongst the highest achieving students in the school. The increased motivation, the ability to work in ensembles, the use of music practice and performance to stimulate brain activity are well known and recognised throughout the school community.

• Our students are academically selective. The students who choose to pursue music are always among our highest achievers.

• Music students are over represented in our Academic Extension programs and the number of students who end up with ATARS above 95. This clearly shows a correlation between music talent and academic talent. The music program can take up to 10 hours a week commitment hence time management becomes essential from the beginning of year 8. Associated with that is commitment. These two skills ensure music students, regardless as to whether they continue music studies in Year 11 and 12, have the structures and discipline required to succeed academically.

• When a child who has displayed low levels of skill, communication or intellectual performance suddenly starts to produce spontaneous music on the djembé, it can be transformative. Immediately teachers have a new insight into that child’s capabilities, and the child’s self-confidence is boosted by their teachers’ positive reaction to their creativity. This promotes overall improvement across the curriculum. For some children it marks the first entry point into the curriculum.

• More committed students. Better understanding of music curriculum. Students act in a more collegial manner which has a positive effect on their studies.

20. Well-being. Please comment on any improvements in self-confidence, well-being of students that may be attributable to the music program

All 19 responded.

Many studies and informal reports remark upon the growth of self-confidence through musical performance activities.

• Sense of belonging and success, and opportunities for personal and social regulation.

• Many of the students involved in the student representative council were also involved in the music program. These students seemed to develop a new confidence in their role and started to see our high school as the equal of others in the area instead of seeing it as disadvantaged and second class. ” • High level of confidence through the Musicals and performance groups. Students are encouraged to use the microphone from Prep and given opportunities to perform at assemblies.”

• Have noticed development of self-confidence and calming effects of music

• Our students are confident leaders. Music contributes to confidence

• There is a music family. It is a place to be amongst similarly minded students but is also a safety haven and friendships

• The fact that Music students and their staff build strong and trusting relationships, contributes to student well-being in a positive way, particularly when performing arts events are being rehearsed. The bonds that form for instance, when preparing for the College Musical, are outstanding and long-lasting. Our students have the opportunity to build their self-confidence when performing for Chapel, college and community events.

As to the first point, music builds relationships which contribute to well-being; it is a sequence.

There is an assumption here that performance builds self-confidence – and it seems to be confirmed by the evidence, but one would think that performance could as easily breed anxiety.

• Working in ensembles/small groups increases self confidence – student leaders involved in the program are role models for the student population – small group work with specialist teachers allows for strong rapport with students which can lead to important mentoring with at risk or difficult students.

• Confronting any fears about performing in public are dealt with effectively in a music performance so there are benefits to studying music and performing in a group in terms of confidence and character development. This has knock-on effects for later life and in other fields/domains as a student.

• Many students feel most comfortable when performing or listening to music. The sense of belonging engendered by being a part of a choir or orchestra, and the feeling of elation following successful performances is huge boon to the self esteem and confidence of many individuals.

• The students in our music program have a real sense of belonging to the group and are motivated to perform at the highest level and to be challenged musically, socially, emotionally and intellectually.

” My perception is that our music students are well balanced students who enjoy being at school. Their engagement in performance opportunities and community service opportunities ensures a well-rounded and successful start to their education. The vast majority of these students become successful professionals after tertiary studies. The school has had a Beazley medallist (the top ATAR student in WA) in each of the past three decades resulting from its music program.”

• The music program creates a great deal of well-being for our students. They have fun, have a sense of belonging, work together as a team and support and look after each other.

21. Cooperativeness. Please comment on any improvement in students’ cooperation with each other that may have been influenced by the music program

17 responded, 2 skipped the question.

• Engagement with school community, student leadership development evident

• The Eagle Rock Opera had been a significant opportunity for students to work as a team and for students of different academic and cultural backgrounds to work together. This resulted in more cooperation between students and staff and this seemed to extend to many students who had little involvement in the program.

• Where there are groups playing together there is a high level of camaraderie – the discipline for these groups must be high but also enjoyable.

• Students enjoy music, volunteer for bands and the school choir and are willing to participate in out of school hours for performances, competitions etc.

• It is clear that students who are involved in Music are in general cooperative students

• Our students are cooperative. It is a school value. Music contributes to cooperativeness

• Not in those terms. Those kids are generally fantastic. They become more confident in their dealings with older people

• This is a highlight of the Music program. Students who have little to do with each other, come together for common performance goals and make life-long friendships. Cooperation, trust, responsibility and respect for each other develops over time in positive and observable ways.

• Teamwork and cohesiveness develops in student groups as they work together – the success of the recent international touring choir was based on the cooperation of all 30 members and the team spirit they developed – students readily volunteer to participate in additional school events to help showcase the school and the music program – students willingly support one another by providing accompaniment or additional ‘strength’ to items, even in competitive settings

• Nil – they behave already and [I] do not believe music programs affect this area. If they do not behave, they are likely to be asked to leave the music program as they cannot be trusted

• This is a definite outcome of the music program. The way the syllabus is taught and examined definitely promotes cooperative learning and performing, probably on a par with drama

• It almost goes without saying, that a successful music program such as that at Perth Modern School is based on the cooperation and team work developed by the musical directors of the many ensembles. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that music students make up the bulk of other school based activities, such as Debating, Future Problem Solving, Chess, SCRAM, Rock Eisteddfod amongst others. This can even be seen in sporting teams.

Suggests that music is the cause, but there could just be a correlation.

• Our music students have a sense of belonging to a team and work and co-operate accordingly.

• The school’s music program requires each music student to engage in at least one instrumental ensemble and a choir. The success of each of these is dependent on teamwork and cooperation. The schools ensembles are almost always rated as outstanding in the annual competitions hence this is a measure of their cooperative success. Students volunteer as groups for a variety of community service endeavours, again with a spirit of cooperation.

• The students have to work cooperatively in the music program and do so with great preparedness

22. Attendance. Please comment on changes in attendance/truancy/retention rates that may have been influenced by the presence of the music program

17 responded.

Attendance is generally not an issue for these schools. A few commented that they had not attempted to track any relationship between music participation and attendance.

• Some students directly involved in the program improved their attendance but it is very difficult to quantify these changes.

23. Re-engagement. Please comment on instances of ‘musical rescue’, reengagement of some students through the music program.

16 responded.

This question was intended, by implication, to inquire about the effects of the music program on students who are disengaged, alienated, not participating. Some wrote that this is not an issue in their school. Some others:

• The year 12 Music class became more and more motivated during 2012 with two students who had previously been disengaged reengaging fully both in the music program and with their wider studies.

• The Drum Group brings together students who have rhythm but might not have pitch fluency… The class program with its variety of singing, movement, playing percussion instruments and creating their own music or dance, caters for most of these “different” students.

• Re-engagement of students through the school rock band

• We have example of students who have reengaged as a result of their increased involvement in Music – however the same could be said of many other courses or activities within the school – finding an area of passion is the key

• Students in distress and/or suffering mental illness including depression find they can connect with the program – the program offers benefits including assisting students to redress low self-esteem. We find they are motivated by opportunities to rise to the challenges learning an instrument and performing opportunities provide.

• If we want to educate the WHOLE CHILD, then Music must be a core subject. I have noticed when children are engaged in Music (and the Arts) something changes in their lives,

Last year when we introduced compulsory engagement in the choirs I had several parents saying their child doesn’t want to be in the choir and wanted to withdraw them. This was not allowed by me as I took the view Music is on an equal footing with Literacy and Numeracy and Science etc. Our initial findings show the children who have engaged and enjoyed the initiative the most were those children referred to.

24. Behaviour. Please comment on changes in classroom behaviour that may have been influenced by the presence of the music program

17 responded. A good number of respondents wrote that they could not comment or that behaviour is not an issue in their school.

• The behaviour of students on all school assemblies and at special functions improved significantly as the quality and number of music performances increased in school assemblies. It is difficult to link the improved behaviour on assemblies to improved behaviour in classrooms.

• We do not have poor behaviour in any of our classrooms. We have high expectations of good behaviour.

• Students need a focus for their talents and a forum to express themselves. This is indeed the case for some students whose classroom behaviour has benefited from the opportunities to re-direct their energies towards positive performance outcomes.

• The music program engages and motivates students. When they are connected and focused in class positive behaviour results. – students readily connect with our music program as it is strongly linked to the real life music world with which they can relate.

25. Spirit. Please comment on any improvement in school spirit, morale that may have been influenced by the music program

17 responded.

• School spirit and morale certainly lifted in particular when students performed original songs to celebrate important events such as student graduations for year 12 and year 10 students. This also was repeated when special songs were performed at both year 10 and year 12 formals.

• We have a School song which is sung after the National Anthem every Monday It incorporates the values of the school. The highly successful Federal Government initiative called “Music: Count Us In” is performed at our school each year. One song is composed by secondary students and this is given to as many students in Australia as possible and we have a countdown from Peter Garrett in Canberra and we all sing at the same time on the same day. Our school come together in the Hall to sing it.

• School spirit particularly for school assemblies, performances and dance competitions show a development of morale in the school . School song is sung at assembly every Monday.

• Difficult to say; we were not exactly low on school spirit in the first place. However, if you look at the individual kids, there was obviously a growth, and a pride in that growth, for many: this must have been inspiriting.

• Over the years, the Music program has built positive relationships with our community and a deep respect for the quality performers who graduate from our program. Our Musical productions and camps in particular, build friendships, school morale and spirit.

• Performance opportunities, festivals and competitions help students strive for improvement and their personal best… Our musicians inspire one another with their commitment to developing skills and musicality.

• Relates to well-being and confidence.

• Yes our school music program has a definite and positive effect on school spirit. Every school assembly, every public event has performers and entertainment. Our whole school productions are a major influence on school spirit and cooperation.

• …I believe that the music program has an extremely positive impact on school spirit across the board to the extent that music is really a litmus test of how the school is “travelling” as a whole.

• The music program exemplifies the values of our school and is used to highlight the values and traditions of the school.

• Again Churchlands graduates remain proud to have attended their school. A large Alumni database exists and more particularly a large subset of that is the music alumni data base. A strong indicator of a very positive school spirit.

• The music program has lifted the morale of all students, not only those who are directly involved in the music program but for all students who get to listen to performances. This is very obvious in School assemblies and Chapel Services.

26. School reputation. Please comment on any improvement in the school’s image and reputation; the number of applications for enrolment in the school; support to the school from the community, attributable to the music program.

All responded. This issue seems of high interest to the principals, which is not surprising.

• The high school’s reputation improved significantly with both the primary community of schools’ WOT opera and the high school Eagle Rock opera. Representatives of the Beacon and United Way charitable organisations, Housing NSW, and local business groups attended the Rock Opera. Since then the Beacon organisation has asked our students to perform at an Art exhibition at the AMP centre at Circular Quay. [Additional instances are listed.] Some students from the local primary school have indicated they will attend Eagle Vale high school as a result of their involvement in the community of schools’ music program.

• I’m not too sure how many students want to enrol at our school because of the music program but I do know that I am asked by relocation people to explain the music program. I think that generally the school has a very good reputation for sport, academic, also…

• The school has a great reputation for music education in the community for the variety and accomplishment of the students

• The reputation of our Music program attracts students to the school just as many other courses and activities attract students to the school

• We have a tightly held enrolment zone. Many families who are out of zone would like to attend our school but are unable. We have the highest density of students to space in Victoria. We have a great reputation as a state primary school.

• This is the single most obvious area. We are the best music school in this area and that includes our non government colleagues in Coffs Harbour who have the facilities and resources. They can keep them. I wouldn’t swap my music teachers

• There is no doubt that, as our standards improved and as music participation became more wide-spread and thus more a part of the essence of the school, the community became aware of these factors. There was, accordingly, a greater respect for the school: it was held in greater regard by the community. That led to increased interest from musical families, which, in turn, led to enrolment of more musically talented or musically interested families. It was then becoming a self-perpetuating system.

• The Balwyn High School music program is a key component of the school culture – the school is renowned for its music program. Music placements are highly sought after. Students also compete vigorously for music scholarships. – connectivity to the community through the music program is highly valued.

• A good music programme does affect school reputation – both within teacher circles and the wider community. This school supports a number of community events and has good rapport with staff and hence benefits from association with these groups.

• We are known as having an excellent reputation for school performances as opposed to music teaching. However, as a government school we still find it very hard to compete with the lessons and outside tutoring in specific instruments that the private schools in our area offer.

• Since our Arts Music Centre has opened we have had an increase of 7% in enrolments The parents love not only our school’s philosophy but our culture of Every Child -Every Day- This is a philosophy of engaging with every child and staff member each day-It is all about relationships

• Due largely to the Music Program the school has an enviable reputation. Before the academic select process began, music was far and above the best thing happening at Perth Modern School and was largely responsible for the continued existence of the school. Since and despite the change in school focus, the successful music program remains the point of difference in parents making the decision to choose Perth Modern as the school of choice for their children.

• Our school has a long standing set of traditions and reputation in NSW and Australia. It is the oldest selective school in NSW and holds a significant place of influence in education in the nation. Some students apply for the school because of the music program and at all open days the values and opportunities of the music program are shared with guests.

• Churchlands enjoys a very positive reputation in the school community. Again Music is one of a number of factors that contributes to this.

• Yes, we have definitely had many parents choose our kindergarten over other options based on the strength if our multicultural music programme.

• The improved music program has greatly enhanced the School’s reputation. Many potential parents are looking to have their daughter involved in a School that can provide a good quality of music. The students perform outside of the School as well and this provides excellent word of mouth opportunities for the school.

27. Other effects of the music program. (Please describe.)

13 responded.

• The parent community is very supportive of the music program and we have begun a “Friends of the Arts” group which is for Visual Arts, Drama, and Music and Dance. The Orchestra has performed at the Principal’s conference at the Melbourne convention centre. We have Oz Opera perform each year and this is supported by the parents. The other added bonus is that nearly all our instrumental teachers are “old boys and girls” of the school. Our Carols Evening each year has “old” students accompanying the singers. This happens every year. Some of our dance programs are taken by talented parents – we are most fortunate YET this year we do not have our Music room due to the increase of numbers at the school.

This is one of a number of submissions in which it is noted that the music program has engendered support for itself or for the school as a whole.

• Any emphasis on excellence must, perforce, spread to other areas of the school’s activities.

Music is a subject in which excellence is especially evident and valued and can be experienced/witnessed by the musicians and by their listeners.

• Stronger links in the community. The return of musically gifted old-scholars to the college – who raise the profile of the Music program.

• Our music program is linked with external community groups: the Yamaha organisation, the Camberwell Choral Group, the Camberwell Scouts – PD sessions have been conducted by ABODA (String workshops) – our music alumni remain keen to return to the school for performance purposes and to assist our current music students – many of our students go on to have successful professional careers in music

There are a number of contributions reflecting music’s value as a bridge to the community.

• Enthusiastic and flexible

• The music program is often considered the “Heart and Soul” of Churhlands SHS. The students engaged in music continue to provide our student leaders and a core group of students that continually showcase our school with their success across all academic measures. Without doubt we would be a lesser school without the program.

• Staff have had the opportunity to travel and present programmes in other sites, including APY Lands, based on sharing our music practice.

• Like all good co-curricular opportunities, there is a high correlation between student involvement and academic success. Part of our improvement in academic success in recent times can be attributable to the success and improvement of the music program. Music increases student involvement leading to wider academic success.


Richard Letts, June 2013. Entered on Knowledge Base 27 March 2014.


  1. Says smart kids choose music, not that music makes kids smart. But there is also plenty of research supporting the latter.↩︎

Dr Richard Letts AM is the founder and Director of The Music Trust, founder and former Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia (now Music Australia) and Past President of the International Music Council. He has held senior positions in music and culture in Australia and the United States, advocated for music and music education, conducted research, written policy documents, edited four periodicals, published four books and hundreds of articles.

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