Axing Musical Education

I’m at a complete loss for words over the recent Axing of a college music program at the Australian School of Music, Canberra, Australia. It was recently written in TheRiotAct, a Canberra based publication and shared throughout the musical community alumni.

As a graduate of the then Type2 course, now the ANU Extension Program’s Advanced Music Course I cannot send enough anger and frustration towards the government to what they have axed. The advanced course provides one-on-one tutorials for year 11 and 12 ACT classical and jazz students outside of their college hours and when we did it, counted towards their first year of a music degree with the CSM.

I attended twice a week for two years for this course and twice for practical music lessons and a trumpet ensemble created by the incredible Dr Kelly Parkes. She took an anxiety filled youth and gave her the tools to play to 100’s and 1000’s of people without a second thought of nerves. That music program brought me through some of the roughest of teenage years because the school not only taught music, it created community between kids with a great love of the same thing. Music.

I found that music helped me with my art, maths, English and history because it taught me about timing and counting, historical events, time management and transposing music while playing a piece and listening. Most importantly of all it taught me discipline I never knew I had inside of me and helped me grow through my anxiety because music became my stress relief. All of these skills cross pollinated with my school work and I truly believe that it helped me achieve my final year 12 score that I did. Jim Cotter took us for Music Appreciation and even now, I still think of him as I break apart a song in my head into bass, beats, time signatures, instruments, melody, harmony… and may shake my head and curse him too. Listening to music after you listen to it with Jim is never the same again. If you’ve done the course with him, you’ll understand this sentiment.

The Australian School of Music was SO highly regarded around the world, it is now a sad state of affairs that the countries leading musicians wont have the tools, support or funding to continue a tradition and education which I believe to be imperative to any child’s education.

“Our understanding is the ACT Government funding is being redirected towards other community-based arts and music programs from 2019. While this decision will not affect students currently enrolled in the program, ANU is unable to open enrolments to students from 2019,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re disappointed we won’t be able to continue delivering this fantastic program, but ANU has a world-leading tertiary music program and ACT high school students are able to enhance their music education through the ANU Music Development Program.”

Clearly I am not alone in my thoughts as there are Facebook groups forming to rally around this decision. So many in the music community and those who took part in this course see that axing this course will affect gifted public school students who will no longer be able to benefit from free one-on-one tuition with School of Music teachers, nor perform with their peers in such a high level environment. Performances which many, like myself can remember fondly and will do so for the rest of our lives.

This program is truly the most crucial step in young persons development as a musician and was a clear pathway to higher studies for myself and many many other of my friends.

Dear Government of Australia, you have MUCH to fix and this program MUST be reinstated back into your funding. Keep this program running so ALL gifted and talented musicians may have the space to grow and excel into their most cherished and loved field. University students have the flexibility to go away to their chosen university but year 11 and 12 students DO NOT.
Keep the kids local, keep our talented staff and tutors local and keep the CSM programs in place to help launch our future virtuoso’s and lovers of music.