ASME Summer School 2023 – Day 1

Today I attended my first official PD day as a teacher – and I haven’t even started as a teacher. That’s because over the summer holidays, the WA chapter of the Australian Society of Music Education (ASME) hold their summer school. Two full days of professional learning sessions that aim to upskill, inform, inspire and provide networking opportunities for music educators in WA. Teachers give up two days of their school holidays to come and engage in a wide variety of sessions. These sessions range from early childhood through to ATAR streams, and everything inbetween.

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Last year, I had the opportunity to attend as a volunteer. As a Edith Cowan University School of Education student, the opportunity was provided to attend (and gain free membership to ASME for a year) in return for helping set up, introduce sessions, be a gopher, and pack up. This year, however, I was excited to attend as a participant. The choice of sessions was up to me, choosing ones that I felt would best aid me as I enter my new role.

Keynote address – Functions of Music

The day formally started with a Welcome to Country, initial welcome to the ASME Summer School and a singalong (to which I got many ideas from). Then Dr Jason Goopy – ECU lecturer in Seconday Music Education amongst many other things – presented the keynote on stepping outside the structures of curriculums and syllabus and to explore the various functions of music in our lives and how school-based music education prepares students to become musical people. This was a really interesting topic, and one that would expand into other areas as we consider curriculum changes. In effect, the curriculum will change what we teach. However, the end goal of music education is to prepare children and young people to become musical people, because to be human is to be musical.

Dr Goopy based a lot of his talk of Merriam’s Uses and Functions of Music. However, I was particularly interested in his link to Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory, and the idea of music being an autotelic experience. An autotelic experience is something where doing the experience is the reward in and of itself. I also particularly liked one quote by Dr Goopy. He said more and more young people were experiencing music by “messing around to deeper immersion through geeking out.” I think that’s certainly an idea that I would like to explore further.

Neurodiverse music education

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Then I had my first session, where I attended Delyse Clayden’s session entitled Teaching Music to Neurodiverse and Disabled Students. Dee is a PhD candidate at ECU, and uses her teaching and personal experience to inspire her study into giving disabled students a voice in the formation of their IEPs. Dee gave us a thorough background about the appropriate language to use (including noting that it is a flexible thing and often changes). She then explored ideas around how to create inclusive education for all students. This was done through differentiation, reasonable adjustments and universal design for learning.

This was a great session – and one that is very much needed. However, as someone who is neurodivergent and lives with a neurodivergent family, I had hoped for some more practical ideas as to how to approach teaching, as opposed to the history and language which I’m already well aware of. But I’m sure that for those who are still new to this space, it was a very helpful unit.

Following morning tea, and a brief Taiko demonstration, we had a panel Question and Answer session. There were a number of questions about panellists’ research (particularly Jason Goopy’s upcoming research into community music groups and their work in trauma informed practice), ways of advocating for music education in schools – both at a school level and a departmental/governmental level, and the use of various programs/instruments in school settings.

Choral Conducting

It was then lunch time, and then I had two sessions with Su-Lyn Chong on Choral Conducting. These were the sessions that I was most looking forward to, as I will be starting up a new choir at my school. I realised it has been near on 10 years since I last conducted a choir. Going through some excellent practices and techniques to support students in their singing has given me an excellent starting point heading forward. There’s still going to be a lot to learn, but I now know a lot of where to be starting from in looking for additional resources.

ASME Summer School Networking

Finally, it was a time for networking at ECU’s Birra Bar. A fantastic time to catch up with friends and colleagues, and discuss what had been happening over the last year. As music teachers, often we are the only one in our school – where as there might be 4 or 5 (or more) English or Maths teachers, there is often only one music teacher. That means that these opportunities to network, catch up, reminisce, inspire are vitally important. An interesting thing that I noted was that there were three students from my high school who were in attendance as music teachers, as well as one of our music teachers, who went on to become the head of music at that school, and the current head of music at that school who had taken over from our music teacher. It’s amazing to think of the legacy that has been forged through these teachers because of the influence they had on our lives.

So that was my experience of Day one of the 2023 ASME Summer School. It’s been a full on day, and I am looking forward to another day tomorrow, for another three sessions that I’m sure will spark a lot of ideas for me.

Right Job, Wrong Time

Dog Rock - Albany, Western Australia.
One of the iconic landmarks of Albany - Dog Rock (Image via Wikipedia)

I was offered a job yesterday. It was, a couple of years ago, my dream job. It was teaching violin, 4 days a week, at schools in Albany. A couple of years ago – even possibly as late as last year – I might have jumped at the opportunity. This time, however, I turned it down.

Why? Well, I’m heading to college (hopefully – should find out on Wednesday) next year, and if we’re accepted to that, then I’m moving house. Working 4 days a week in Albany (which for those playing overseas is about a 4.5 hour drive, or around $200 each way for flights) would put a serious strain on my relationship with my wife, especially in the lead up to college, where we would be thrown into a boiler room of pressure, living in the college, studying every day with everyone else around us.

So I turned the job down. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also incredibly hard for me to pass something up that I had wanted for so long. A full-time teaching job – doing for a living what I was trained to do, instead of my current situation – working three hours on a Friday morning teaching, and doing non-musical work the rest of the week. But it’s ok, as I know that God has called me to ministry in the Salvation Army, and in a couple of years, I will not only be doing what I was trained to do, but also what I was called to do.

I think that makes it all better.

Have you ever had to give something up that you really wanted, because the situation wasn’t quite right?

Poverty in Australia

apw_web_button Biblical Truth

He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

Luke 4:16-21, The Message Continue reading “Poverty in Australia”