Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Musical Futures in Victoria

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Musical Futures in Victoria

Article excerpt


Numerous academics, reports and teachers have noted that music in secondary schools as a school subject is frequently not a popular and stimulating element of the curriculum: in fact, it seems to be of little interest or relevance to many students (for example, Ross, 1995; Plummeridge, 1997; Green, 2002; National Review of School Music Education, 2005; Hutchinson, 2007; St George, 2010). On the other hand, numerous teenagers have their own bands; invest in mp3 players and their current chart favourites; and they go to local gigs like The Big Day Out, as well as dances and parties where music features. There seems to be no problem with involvement in music outside of school but there has long been a disconnect between school music and what happens outside the formal school environment.

Musical Futures is a music learning program based in the research of Lucy Green (2005, 2006, 2008a, 2008b) and others that was established in the United Kingdom in 2003. It aims to make secondary classroom music more relevant to young people through engaging them in the practices of real world musicians, recognising that the way in which popular musicians learn is quite different from the pedagogy of the traditional music classroom. Research from the Institute of Education, University of London (Hallam, Creech & McQueen, 2010) has reported favourably on the impact of the program in UK schools. With the support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (which has funded the Musical Futures Project in the UK) and the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation (USA), the Australian Music Association (AMA), in collaboration with the Soundhouse and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), has piloted the program in 10 Victorian government schools in 2010. The teachers involved completed an intensive two day workshop with David Price from Musical Futures in the United Kingdom prior to implementing the program. This article reports on research that investigated the impact of Musical Futures approach on the music teachers and students in these ten schools.


The research aimed to investigate two questions:

* Has Musical Futures had an impact on teachers' confidence, pedagogy and professional satisfaction? and

* What impact has the Musical Futures approach had on students?

The research methodology replicated aspects of the Hallam, Creech and McQueen (2010) research with teacher questionnaires for each of the ten pilot schools. The questionnaires were adapted slightly for the Victorian context with items relating to the following areas:

* background information about the teachers;

* how Musical Futures has been implemented;

* the impact on teaching;

* the impact on students;

* the integration of Musical Futures with the VELS and the e5 instructional model;

* difficulties and constraints relating to the use of Musical Futures;

* the level of support from senior management teams;

* the impact on take-up of elective music; and

* the impact on take-up of extra-curricular instrumental and vocal activities.

Two schools were selected as case study schools in consultation with the Soundhouse. Two members of the research team visited these schools to undertake recorded interviews with the music teachers, a focus group interview with students, and two class observations. The case study schools were also measured against an adaptation of the National Review of School Music Education's success factors for school music programs used to examine best practice music education in Victorian primary schools in 2009 (Jeanneret, 2009).

Findings from the survey

Ten teachers from seven of the schools completed the questionnaires representing a selection of metropolitan and provincial schools. The majority of the schools had been implementing Musical Futures for two terms at the time of the data collection and over 1,000 students, mostly middle school, had been involved in the program. …

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