A privately sponsored program by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is hoping to change that, offering teachers a helping hand in the classroom.
TunED-Up is a five-day music training program running for the second time. In two intakes, 50 teachers from across NSW will fill the historic quarters of St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney with the sounds of percussion, singing and even composing.
A recent national survey of 258 primary schools by the University of NSW found most primary school teachers often felt ill-equipped to teach music, and a lack of music qualifications or teaching experience was directly correlated with how confident teachers felt teaching the subject.
Primary school university degrees offer, on average, between 10 and 17 hours for music education, well below the time given to other subjects.
Kim Waldock, director of learning and engagement at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is running the program.
She said the course would give teachers interested in music a solid foundation to take back to the classroom and colleagues.
“It’s really great for these teachers because they have already been in the classroom and know what they want to learn here,” she said.
While for many, music doesn’t go beyond tuning into the car radio, special needs teacher Sophie Mohr from Lismore Public School credits growing up with music as a key part of her identity.
Through her work with special needs children, Ms Mohr finds ways to incorporate music into classroom learning.
“Music is a always a favourite as it brings a variety and choice to kids. It can be a settling thing and I can use it lots of different ways,” she said.
Nicola Shannon from Boronia Park Public School sees the program as a music refresher in an area where there is not enough curriculum emphasis.
“I teach creative arts so this [course] is serving as inspiration to get some more music education included,” the teacher of 30 years said.
Carla Di Meglio, a special needs teacher at Ashfield Public School, sees music as vital to developing social and cognitive skills and has seen the improvement in her students.
Last year, about 400 students benefited from the course that was attended by 25 teachers.