• The fact of having a National Review of School Music Education in 2005 has focused attention on school music and particularly highlighted the problem of music in primary schools not being available for many Australian children. As a result of the NRSME, efforts are being made to enhance the status and quality of music in schools. The National Awards for Excellence in School Music Education, funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and administered by ASME, are helping to enhance the status of music teachers.
  • Music in secondary schools is generally well established, taught by qualified, registered, specialist music teachers. Although curricula differ from state to state, in general music programs have a comprehensive approach incorporating practical, theoretical, creative, listening and historical elements within an elective classroom music program.
  • Many secondary schools have active extra-curricular (or co-curricular) performing groups which provide rich and rewarding experiences for the students participating in those groups.
  • Music is available in various forms at senior secondary level and may contribute to the higher school Certificate of Education and the Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER).
  • Primary schools with specialist music teachers offer quality music education experiences for the children at those schools.
  • In South Australia, the Public Primary Schools Music Festival provides a choral-based program and brings opportunities to around 13,000 primary school students each year.
  • Professional development is provided by various organisations with expertise in various facets of music education. These are usually provided on a state-by-state basis, with annual or bi-annual national conferences in addition.


  1. There is inequity with regard to access, participation, and engagement in school music for all students (NRSME, 2005, p. 143). The provision of music in primary schools is particularly sporadic (except in Queensland).
  2. Music has been identified as one of the subjects within the Arts learning area (since the 1989 Hobart Declaration by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA)). Being under the Arts umbrella, as well as the requirement for a language other than English (LOTE), has diminished the amount of curriculum time for Music.
  3. Narrow and elitist views of music education persist in some quarters, based on myths such as only a small proportion of children being musically capable.
  4. Professional associations that support music education are generally run by dedicated volunteers, rather than having paid staff to undertake much of the work.
  5. Professional development is mostly carried out in teachers’ own time rather than during work time.
  6. Many facilities for school music teaching are inadequate with regard to space and equipment.


  • The potential of information and communications technology (ICT) to enable a wider range of access to music education. Many music software programs have the capacity to provide students with creative, engaging and educational opportunities in music. Such software uses the medium of sound, and often makes important connections between sounds and symbols.
  • The availability of a wide range of internet music resources.
  • The growing availability of music support services, such as Musica Viva in Schools.


  1. The Australian Primary Principals Association Charter on Australian Schooling outlines four ‘core’ subjects of English, mathematics, science and history, with music and physical education not being included as ‘core’ areas.
  2. Music teachers often work with many competing pressures of teaching, public performance requirements and administration that can lead to teacher ‘burnout’.
  3. The teaching force in general is aging, and this is a challenge in music education too.


Prepared by Jenny Rosevear, National President of the Australian Society for Music Education Inc. (ASME), and Head of the Bachelor of Music Education Program in the Elder School of Music in Adelaide. Submitted 30 March 2008.
Entered into knowledge base 24 August 2008.

National President of the Australian Society for Music Education Inc. (ASME), and Head of the Bachelor of Music Education Program in the Elder School of Music in Adelaide.

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