A new independent primary school, founded in partnership with conductor and music educator Richard Gill AO, will be established in Muswellbrook, the Muswellbrook Shire Council announced today. The Muswellbrook Richard Gill Music Academy will be an independent K-6 Primary School driven by Gill’s unique vision, with music and physical education as cornerstones of the curriculum. An independent board, chaired by Kim Williams AM, who was in Muswellbrook for today’s announcement, will oversee the establishment of the school, scheduled to open in 2020.

Gill has been a fierce advocate of access to high quality music education for all children, both in his columns for Limelight and initiatives such as the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program.

“I believe a structured program of primary school music education based on singing, moving and creating, has benefits for all areas of children’s learning and I believe every child should have access to quality music education, delivered by trained and educated music teachers in a school that will also offer the highest quality demonstration and practicum experiences for trainee music teachers,” Gill said. “It is clear that Muswellbrook Shire Council is making significant investments in educational facilities, partnered with universities on multiple projects. This school will complement and strengthen these initiatives that include the infrastructure at the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music and Council’s development of a 500 seat performance centre.”

Muswellbrook Richard Gill Music Academy, Richard GillThe Muswellbrook Shire Council Administrative Centre, the proposed site of the new music school. Image courtesy of Muswellbrook Shire Council.

The new school is slated for the current site of the Muswellbrook Shire Council Administration Centre, and the Muswellbrook Shire Council has commenced discussions regarding the relocation of its Administration Centre and the conversion of the site.

“Richard Gill is an inspirational educator and his philosophy will be embedded in the curriculum providing access to an extraordinary education experience,” Muswellbrook Mayor Martin Rush said. “Council recognises the opportunity for regional students to take part in a unique school where creativity takes a central role alongside science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

“A National School of Music Education will not only provide specialist teacher training for a new generation of music educators in a realistic training environment for deployment to schools across Australia, but will have an enormously positive consequential impact for our community as it positions itself for the future,” he said.

A School board, under Williams’ leadership, has been formed and work is currently underway to register the school. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2020, with a small cohort of students from years K-3, subject to a successful registration and business planning process. According to Muswellbrook Shire Council, it is anticipated that the school will grow into a high school in future years.

“I am honoured to be sharing the vision that Richard Gill passionately advocates with the Upper Hunter,” Williams said. “I look forward to working closely with Council and the community as we establish what will be a unique creative school for regional NSW.”

Richard Gill writes a two-part article about the project in his guest column in the October and November issues of Limelight Magazine