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~ Music Education ~

Other topics, links etc. which could be included in a broad definition of 'education', may be found on this site's Musicians Resources and News pages.


Music education has changed greatly over the last fifty years.
Today, there is often extremely high quality music education available to any serious musician - from private teachers, universities, institutions devoted exclusively (or mainly) to music, in schools and, of course, the internet.

As well, anyone with internet access can listen to and learn from the best musicians in the world at the press of a key.

In many cases, Australian schools are able to provide good basic music instruction at both primary and secondary levels. At the tertiary level there are universities and conservatoriums providing more advanced tuition.

Until recently in Australia there was a very high quality institution, the National Music School in Canberra, which had a very strong emphasis on performance. Since that institution came under the wing of the Australian National University, top level performer/teachers have been lost from the music education profession.

In each Australian state are one or more tertiary level music schools offering good facilities and tuition for advanced student performers.

There is an increasing number of student musicians who travel and live overseas to be able to study with some of the very best teachers in the world.

Many top rank players from the Australian Symphony and Opera orchestras often have the time to give instrumental teaching of the highest order.

The establishment of the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier, South Australia, looks as though it will contribute greatly to high performance standards among those lucky enough to get a place there. The curriculum is in the hands of Director of Studies Graeme Lyall - an outstanding performer, arranger and teacher. It is worth visiting their web site (see under Teaching Institutions, Tertiary in the links on the left) just to get some of James Morrison's insights into music teaching/performance - they appear on many pages of the site.

Since Australia is a very large country, with most of the population living on the coastal fringes, instrumental students in more remote areas are disadvantaged.

If and when Australia gets a first-class national internet system the possibilities of good 'distance' one on one instrumental tuition will become a reality.

Another internet benefit, which is already happening, is the possibility of listening to concerts from anywhere in the world in technically high audio definition - the quality dependent only the quality of the listener's internet connection.

A positive change which has finally happened in music education has been the breaking down of artificial barriers between 'classical', 'jazz', 'folk' etc. Fortunately the realisation has dawned that there are factors and standards in the creation and performance of music which are common to all traditions and styles.

If you aspire to a position in a symphony orchestra, the audition ("test") pieces are fairly standard. Lists for most brass, wind and percussion instruments can be found here. In addition to the set pieces, you will usually be expected to perform a concerto (or part thereof).

Not many musicians have the time or interest to understand the fundamentals of what is going on when we talk about the minute details of 'harmonic series' or 'tempered scales' and the like. However, for those who do and would like to delve into these areas (and many more), the classic book is Helmholtz' "On the Sensations of Tone". This amazing work (the Dover publication) is available quite cheaply (~$10 secondhand) from the larger web bookstores. Alternatively, other versions are available as a free download from Archive.org   [n.b. more than 60MB if you choose the .pdf format!]. Helmholtz, who lived in the latter half of the 19th century was a German physicist and physician. He wrote on many scientific topics, but his work mentioned here deals with the nuts and bolts of the physical/psychological aspects of making music.

In compiling a list of sources of education, the main problem is - what to include and what to omit? Since these pages originate in Australia, the bias will be towards links which hopefully, would be of most interest mainly, but not exclusively, to Australians. I have, in the interests of efficiency and where practicable, concentrated on 'high level' links, i.e., links which may point to a list of lists.











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© Alan Bray - Windsongs Music Foundation, 2018