Recently, an ex-student of mine telephoned me to say that he was at his wits’ end. As a secondary music teacher, he is doing great things in his high school – breadth and depth of repertoire, singing-based programmes and strong instrumental work. However, his children attending the local State primary school, are experiencing something quite different.

The children, aged five to 12, are given a teacher, who, despite having skills in only one discipline, must teach the same group of children music, dance, drama and visual arts. Often, this teacher is the classroom teacher who could, quite credibly, have no skills in any of the arts disciplines. How is this possible in a so-called educated country such as Australia?

Had these teachers been given four years of arts education preparation at university, with regularly scheduled classes amounting to at least 20 hours in each discipline, then the requirement to teach these subjects might be considered reasonable.

My ex-student’s concerns are further exacerbated when his children come home and tell him that “music has rhythm and beat” and that the two are “exactly the same thing” or that “minor keys tend to be soft and major keys tend to be loud”.  This rubbishy, half-baked, ignorant,...

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