The power of music education programs in schools is being pushed by musical professionals and backed by research.
Evidence indicates the cognitive, social and academic improvements associated with children learning music, either playing an instrument or singing, yet low access to these programs and services are letting our students down.
While over 40 schools across the Riverina have access to music services and programs, deputy director of the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, Jenny Binovec, said it’s largely children wanting to learn a musical instrument, as opposed to all students having access to it.
“I’m a big advocate for music in all schools and I can see a different with schools who offer music programs and school’s which don’t,” she said.
“Generally schools with stronger music programs have better learning outcomes, students have greater social skills and there’s more involvement within the school community.”
RCM teaches music in all different capacities to almost 1200 students from state and independent schools across the region.
Schools in Wagga such as, Wagga Christian College offer curriculum programs, tuition and ensemble music programs, whereas Wagga Public School and Mater Dai Colleges only offer tuition programs.
Ms Binovec said while many schools give students the opportunity to learn privately, she believes music should be compulsory and incorporated more deeply into the school curriculum.
“There’s been a lot of research about the benefits of music, including stronger cognitive ability, emotional and social development,” she said.
“It provides students with a creative outlet, being able to express their feelings and emotions.
“However, we are seeing a change in teachers and principals becoming more interested in music education.
“Our biggest goal is to educate teachers and develop their musical skills so they can bring this into the classroom and students’ learning,” Ms Binovec said.
A 2015 survey conducted by advocacy group The Music Trust, found that 63 per cent of responding schools offered no musical programs and that only 23 per cent of government school music programs were taught by specialist music teachers; as opposed to 88 per cent of private schools.
Ms Binovec said she sees the impact of music on children “through her teaching”, especially with students from under-served communities.
“I see it in my teaching where the music programs create social benefits, collaborating with other students to achieve the end goal, which is a performance, through a friendly and cooperative environment,” she said.
“This is especially evident with those kids who struggle in areas of school like patience, discipline, building self-esteem and through performing in front of an audience, beside their peers they are also building confidence.”