Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 69. Hello, Debbie O’Shea here and welcome to part two of my talk with Dr. Jason Goopy, you get to find out a little about the Tony Foundation. If you don’t know about the Tony Foundation, you really need to find out, follow them on all social media and Jason’s nuggets of fabulous. Enjoy part two.
About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 069 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.
What Dr. Jason Goopy is Grateful For
Now, would you consider you’ve had a really interesting career thus far? What about highlights of your journey as a music educator? And gratitude comes along with that, I think, and I’m certain it would be difficult to pick a few but I’m going to ask you to anyway.
There are so many things that I’m grateful for. And I guess the first thing is my own music education. As I mentioned previously, I went to a Queensland State Primary School at a time where every school in the state had a dedicated music teacher and an instrumental program. I started learning. I went to choir in year three, and continued for the rest of my life. Basically,I started group saxophone lessons in year five. I can remember the names of my teachers.
Oh yes. Oh, come on, spill, spill some.
Thank you, Mrs. Alison Cook, who was my saxophone teacher in year five and a woodwind teacher, Mrs. Jill Brooks was my classroom music teacher, and they’re probably my strongest memories, I can still visually see and imagine the music classroom in my primary school. I can for other classrooms, but particularly the music classroom, I can remember the way the board was set up. I can remember the way our books were set up, I can remember the songs that we played, and the games that we played, we learnt recorder, all these things that we did in the music classroom.
What became even more fulfilling for me was then when I started to recreate that for myself and my own students. So the songs and I played as a kid, I also play with my students as well. And so that was really quite meaningful. I then went to St Lawrence’s college and I was taught by a Dr. Anthony Young, and all of the amazing team that’s there. And that was really quite incredible. I saw that the same year that Anthony started at some Lawrence’s as well in 1998. So we sort of did our St Lawrence’s journey together. He’s obviously still there. But then I went on to UQ. And I was taught by the amazing Dr. James Cuskelly, Réka Csernyik and Maree Hennessy. Réka was actually, I was in second year, and I was in her first second year class when she started.
And so that was just wonderful as well, she was a huge influence in my development. Then I did masters with James and Maree and Réka as well, and then on to PhD studies. But I guess, all of that combined, really, really positive music education experiences. And I know that I’m really lucky, and others aren’t as lucky. And I probably didn’t realise it at the time, because I just wasn’t aware of what was going on out in the big wide world. I just thought it was normal. Because all of my education, up until the end of masters, or even PhD studies, was Kodály inspired music education.
And for me, I thought that was just normal. That was just how people learn music. And it was very odd then to suddenly learn Well, actually, there are many ways to do music. There’s lots of different shapes and forms, and some are successful, some aren’t successful. But what I did, and for the people around me, it was clearly working. So that was what was really interesting in that space. I was really grateful for my music education. And then following that I’ve been so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.
As I mentioned before at BBC I founded a music everday program for students from prep to year three, Music Every Day. Prior to every day we did only have once a week. And what I did though, was I saw it happening around the place and I thought we can do this. So what I offered to do was just take the preps and there was only one prep class at the school at that point. And I just said, How about I just take them for 20 minutes every day, you know. I’ll just do it on top of my load. It’s fine. I put a little space here. You won’t even notice it. I’ll just come and do it. It’ll be fine.
And they said, Okay, fine, Jason, off you go, go do your music thing. You know, keep me happy. And what started to happen is it started getting significant attention because the difference going from once a week to every day or twice a week to every day was huge was very, very huge.
Can I just interrupt you, you noticed the difference. I mean, obviously, anyone listening in music education out there knows that once a week to daily is chalk and cheese. But did the classroom teachers also notice a difference?
The Importance of Music Every Day
Absolutely. And you can’t really fathom the difference between the two scenarios until you live it, because it is so different and it’s the way it should be. It really is what music education is. So a number of things, as part of this picture, is that I started to advocate quite strongly that this would have a positive impact on areas other than music, such as literacy as a big one. And the school at the time was hugely into phonological awareness and testing of it quite rigorously, rigorously.
That was also linked to issues and concerns more generally around boys literacy. And so they were doing all that testing, and I was saying it’s going to help, it’s going to help, it’s going to be so amazing. And I’m seeing it and I was teaching syllables and sounds and all sorts of things. They did the testing and at the end of the year, they say we’ve got our results back. This is the worst cohort we’ve ever had.
Music & Phonological Awareness
The worst cohort we’ve ever had, they’ve completely failed the phonological awareness. But it was really interesting. We had a big meeting, we brought together myself as a music teacher, the prep classroom teachers and the assistants, the literacy support team, the heads of learning and teaching and the principal of the primary school, everyone got to give her a big important meeting about all of this. And we discovered in the meeting, that we were actually using different terminology for the same concepts.
So for instance, if I was asking how many sounds do you hear in the word cat, I would say one sound. Whereas the phonological awareness team would be saying, oh no actually, that’s three sounds c a t. And so I was like, Oh, well, then I made a problem here, because I’m confusing the kids in terminology around the difference between sound and syllable. And then we’d also discovered that I would say, for instance, the beat is consistent, steady, and constant, whereas the literacy team would say, this is the beat. So their version of beat was actually the rhythm. We had all of our terminology mixed up.
So what was happening to these poor little kids, is that the music teacher will come in and say, here are your sounds and rhythms and syllables and everything else. But then they’d have a literacy lesson soon after, and it’ll be the complete opposite. No wonder they was so confused. So I said, Don’t worry, I’ll go in and fix it. I’ve got a really good rapport with the students, we’ll sort this out. And I went in, and I clarified all the terminology, and we practiced and practiced and practiced. And actually very, very quickly after, because they listened to what I said, they were really keen. I just said, Sorry, boys, we just made a mistake here let’s clarify this terminology. And they all went, Oh okay. And then the results went through the roof.
Oh, good there was was a happy ending there.
The Power of Collaboration
So the power of the story is music education in itself in isolation is not enough. It’s being part of the broader curriculum and connecting and collaborating with all of your colleagues, that then makes it truly remarkable. And so what happened is that these amazing results, not just in literacy, but more broadly, you could see it in terms of the way the kids were acting with one another and part of the community was observed by the classroom teachers, because it happened in their classroom.
It was too much for kids to come walk about the school every day, and you’d be losing 20 minutes round trip. So every music lesson everyday happened in the classroom. And the teacher often sat in the room doing their planning. And so they were witnessing the power of music education firsthand, and they became the biggest advocates for the program. So at the end of prep, the principal would turn to the prep teacher and say, should this happen in year one?
And he would just say, yes, at the end of year one, the principal then turned to the year one teacher and said, Shall we continue this? And they just said, Absolutely. End of year two, and we’re getting into serious school learning at the moment, should this continue. Absolutely. So the classroom teachers were actually the gatekeepers to this program expanding.
Wow, and that’s becoming big. That’s becoming more than you giving up 20 minutes, mind you that’s big enough, 20 minutes of your own time for one class each morning. This is now becoming a bigger systemic thing the school you’d really have to believe in it, to invest in that staffing and processes and timetabling and all of those things.
That’s exactly right and it obviously it became too big on top of my, you know, I’ll just do it as a voluntary role on top of , my role, because if you’ve got several classes per cohort, it’s several hours of teaching per day. And so it became a financial investment. That’s what the school had to decide. And it had huge, yeah, it was a very, very, very fortunate position at the time.
And that financial capacity was there to support the program expanding and it has remained intact, and every year, you know, doing budgets and prioritising particular priorities. The question was asked, Should we continue this? Because it’s costing us doing something else. And the classroom teachers, again, always came back and said, Yes.
There were even questions about where should this come from in terms of time allocation, we’ve got to do particular implementation plan set by the QCAA and the ACARA we’ll actually take it from the literacy. So daily music, at the time, actually took away from literacy time, because they could see the benefits in the program.
Very powerful. That’s great hearing stories like that. It means for the rest of us do not give up, keep chipping away.
Keep chipping away. I think Dream Big as well. And that was the thing and they want to do evidence based research. So I said, I’ll go get it. And as I mentioned earlier, that’s where the PhD became a big part of it as well.
Yeah, that’s real commitment. Thanks, Jason. That’s fabulous. Yeah, oh, you want some research? All right. I’ll do that for you. Okay. Let’s get to the Tony Foundation. I’ve only connected with these people relatively recently. But I would love you to tell everybody about the Tony Foundation, and what’s the contribution that you make to this group.
About The Tony Foundation
They are a fabulous group. I’m incredibly grateful and appreciative to what’s going on in this space. And so this project is really talking about Music Education: Right From the Start. It’s a collaborative national initiative, led by the Alberts Tony Foundation, and they united in their collective belief in the power of music to positively transform lives. And the aim is simple, to provide quality music education to all Australian primary school children, which ensures access and equity. And I have to say, the strength of this project is in the consultation with diverse individuals and organisations. Not just from education, but music industry, research, and philanthropy sectors, it’s actually bringing everybody together.
And what I’m also incredibly thankful for for the Tony Foundation for, is they’re doing the work that music teachers just can’t do. Because we’re just so exhausted, just trying to teach music, just trying to keep our own program alive. And it’s also non music teachers advocating for music teachers. I think when someone advocates for an interest that they have an invested interest in themselves, it doesn’t really have the strength and the the convincingness that one needs. However, having an external body, a huge collection of individuals coming together, saying This is really important and they’re lobbying political parties, governments and policy decision makers. It’s been really, really amazing to see that work in action.
So I’ve been a member of this group, since its inception, and have provided advice to the project, drawing upon my broad experience in national teacher associations, schools and teacher education. There’s numerous groups as part of this project, actually. And I’m also a member of the knowledge base working group, and provide research or expert research advice as well. So what I would encourage everyone to do, there’s a number of reports that have been released by this particular project, and they’re all free, and they’re all available online.
And so head to www.alberts.co/music-education and you can find all of the outputs out to date of the project, and there are more to come. The most recent is called Fading Notes, which is an investigation into how primary school music education is delivered in universities around the country. And this was a commission report funded by The Day Foundation. So again a philanthropic association, contributing to this work, and it’s all the things that we know already. But to to see it in print and to see those numbers, as a published report is quite staggering. It’s quite frightening in a way, because the amazing pre service music teacher education that we were fortunate to have is diminishing and eroding, very quickly.
And I will put that link in the show notes for sure. So people can just pop on and click over and find all of that, it so is worth doing. The other thing I appreciate about these reports is that, especially I’m thinking of the Fading Notes. It’s really well written for people to consume easily.
There’s infographics and it’s simple. I’m saying it’s a nice easy read, you know, because, again, we’re all really busy and a whole page of stats, which I’m sure they had, that’s not something that’s easy to scan or useful for us. So it’s worth too following the Tony Foundation on LinkedIn and places like that, because they will post some little snippets and you can share. So I think that’s going to help the general understanding. But yes, the Fading Notes was really just proving what we knew was happening.
I mean, we’re facing that now in Queensland, as we seem to be generating some success in an attempt to reinstate some of our lost programs. Now, of course, there’s no teachers to staff it because that was all part of the degeneration over the past 10 years. So now we’re having to reinstate music education, it’s so difficult to get something back once it’s gone. So we all know, it’s been disappearing. It’s great to have proof there.
That’s right, because the first thing that someone says when you say something like music education has been eroded away in universities is where’s your proof? How bad is really, where are the numbers? And that’s what this report does. Another great thing about the Tony foundation is that they are aware of their audience. It’s so strategic.
And that’s what I really appreciate that this report is for general consumption. It’s for news outlets to pick up and to be pushing out there and generating into the world. It’s for politicians and policymakers to pick up it’d be able to quickly, as busy busy people, pick up and see highlights, and see the impact really clearly. And so, yeah, I would strongly encourage everyone to get to rally round this particular project, because it is the thing that could actually turn the tide for music education in the country. I really believe it is.
Yes, I do, too. I think the fact that it’s so ecumenical is really positive. As you know, I’m definitely a Kodály inspired educator, and we do our bit in our professional associations, but the Tony Foundation rallies everyone. Us and the Orff people and the Dalcroze people and the business people, the people that have a music education business or music producers. They really are a bit of an umbrella body. It doesn’t matter what faction you support and where you come from. We all believe in music for children, and they are working for all of us, which is wonderful.
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, incredibly grateful to their work.
And we’re grateful for you doing your work within that too, so thank you. Now, we have already talked about this. But we’ve got to go on specifically to advocacy, which we’ve already talked about. So for a start we need to hook up with the Tony Foundation and share some of that content that is really valuable. But is there any other specific advice and maybe even how your research will play in your answer?
Dr. Jason Goopy’s Thoughts on Music Education Advocacy
So I think we’re always going to have to advocate for music education and everyone needs to be part of the conversation. Locally in their context but also the national conversation as well. So in terms of nationally, the first thing that I think everyone can do, it’s really easy. And you can do it straightaway is join the Australian Society for Music Education. I’m declaring a bias obviously, they are the people that governments go to when they want to ask something that needs clarification.
And so if they are stronger as an association, that means they are going to be able to give a stronger response. Also then obviously strongly advocate for your other favourite music teacher associations, and there’s so many of them and there’s great work that’s going on, but your membership helps them be your representative and advocate on your behalf.
And I should say as well, don’t be afraid to get involved in the committee’s, I think at times people think, oh, you’ve got to be particular something or other to get involved? No, it’s just ordinary people serving the community and trying to make the world a better place. And, you know, decisions are made, after all by those who show up. So don’t complain about it, get involved and be part of it.
The next thing I would say in terms of your local space, is you need to, and you can contribute to evidence based advocacy. A great place to start, if you’re feeling a bit uncertain, are the Bigger Better Brain courses delivered by Dr. Anita Collins, and she tours all around, not just the country now but internationally. She was recently in Scotland.
Yes, how exciting.
Yeah, yeah, it’s fantastic. And you know, these courses are deliberately designed to empower teachers to engage with research and report on the benefits of music and music education. The next thing is keep on reading, do your own reading, access materials for free through your State Library and start to deepen your understanding of these topics that are relevant to your context and what you’re passionate about. Remember, think about the story before about my music everyday situation. Literacy was a big interest in that context. So that’s where I focused my reading, how is music education contributing to literacy, different schools and different people within different schools will value different things and you need to speak to your audience. It is worth going to speak to those people and seeing what they find to be important.
The next thing that everyone can do, it will just take time and a bit of work. But anyone can go and do master’s and doctoral research studies, you really can. And this will help you learn the skills to be a researcher, and be in a position to powerfully advocate. Research degrees are training degrees, they train you to be a researcher.
And so what I would encourage people to do is like myself, become a teacher researcher, that dual roll. That will allow you then to spot more easily those curiosities in your classroom, and give you the tools to be able to do something about it. And as I mentioned, I think all of that combined, will allow you to pinpoint and target your advocacy arguments.
You can feel confident that when you say something, it’s evidence based, you know, I used to feel like at the time, I’d say, I wouldn’t go this extreme, but music makes you smarter. But how does it do that? And does it really? And what exactly about music and music education makes you smarter, or whatever that might be? So there’s some hot tips.
They are fabulous hot tips. I love it. It’s terrible. But you make me want to do more study. I donot have time to do more studies. Stop it. So you’re so inspiring. Jason, you’re so inspiring.
All right, come and do it at ECU with me Deb.
Yes I’ll just go over to Perth and you can be my supervisor person.
Well in actual fact, in research studies, all my students are essentially all online students. And we meet in person at different times throughout the course of the degree. But research degrees are very different to undergraduate coursework degrees, in that you don’t necessarily complete units. It’s about independent research, study and guidance from a research mentor. So I’ve got students from all around the country actually doing research degrees.
Wow. Okay. Well, after people hear this episode, you’ll get a whole lot of emails saying, Oh, would you please help me do my research?
Yeah, we can get started, feel free to reach out.
I love it. I love it. Jason. All right. We’re up to nuggets of fabulous. You’ve already given us so much. But I’m just wondering if there’s any other little tips and tricks and ideas and things and or maybe even little things from, actually, when you’re in the classroom with the kids some things that you love to do, or some advice, just basically, Jason nuggets of fabulous.
Dr. Jason Goopy’s Nuggets of Fabulous
I think there’s so many things that I love. It’s difficult to pinpoint things. But I think particularly in the secondary context, but there’s also opportunities in primary, some of my favourite music has been introduced to me by my students and colleagues, or even pedagogies, you know, little teaching tips by colleagues or kids have sort of led me down that pathway. I tried to take notice of the music that students bring into the classroom, whether it’s humming, or what they might be listening to on their phone, they’re not supposed to have or whatever it might be, I want to know what they’re doing, because I’m genuinely interested in their music and how it means something to them.
And how can I tap into that, I’m also then really interested in the music, they leave the classroom humming or singing or, you know, dancing to as they leave. And it could be music from class are something different. But for me, I want music to be meaningful in people’s lives. If they’re doing something, because they love it, I bring it into the classroom and lead in the classroom with it. I’m interested in that.
Probably the other thing as well as a nugget of fabulousness is sharing and collaboration, I think, listening, even reflecting upon what we’ve spoken about already, the power of bringing people together, sharing practice, and collaborating, and building on the strengths of different individuals can’t be understated. So that’s something else that perhaps wasn’t as obvious to me personally when I started teaching. But I have seen over and over again, particularly working with national teacher associations, and this then requires building really positive relationships with people. And that is a skill that you can develop and continue to work on. Being able to connect with people and form meaningful relationships that result in impactful work can be really incredible.
I could not agree more. I could not agree more. That is Yes. Amen. I want to say amen. They are really good nuggets.
We see that with you and Debbie don’t we. It’s Deb and Debbie, like the team, that the power of that partnership has literally been transformative for Queensland and beyond. So it just shows that yes, one person can make an incredible difference. But 2, 3, 4, 5, an army of music teachers. Wow. Watch out world because that’s that’s something that can be incredible.
Thank you. Yes, let’s get this army marching. Oh, actually, we already are.
This has just been so inspiring. I am so inspired. I know everybody else listening must be really inspired. Thank you for taking this time to talk to me. But you do get a chance to get on your soapbox before we finish. Even though I can’t imagine what you would add. But I’m still going to ask you if you want to get on your soapbox before we say goodbye. Gee it’s just been a joy, Jason.
Dr. Jason Goopy’s Soapbox
It’s always a joy being in your presence, Debbie. So thank you for the invitation. I really appreciate it and to all the listeners as well. I think my parting advice would be simply get involved, get involved in music education. beyond your immediate context, music changes need to mobilise, this is a real call to action. And you need to cause and we need to cause some good trouble. Don’t rely upon somebody else, because it’ll be too late.
It’s really up to us right here right now. And it’s going to be as we’ve seen, a grassroots movement that saves our discipline that saves music education. And we’ve seen this already with the Music for Every Child Every Week campaign. It’s the power of music teachers coming together and saying this is important. Overwhelmingly, research demonstrates that music education can make a profound difference to individuals and communities. So make sure your children and your students don’t miss out on these opportunities to love music just as much as you do.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Dr. Jason Goopy. It’s been amazing.
Thank you for joining me for this podcast, don’t forget, you’ll find the show notes and transcript and all sorts of information on crescendo.com.au. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast or found it valuable, you might like to rate it on your podcast player and leave a review. I’d really appreciate it if you did. All I can be as the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. Until next time, bye.
This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education connecting supporting and inspiring music educators. In the show notes you’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member, for a low annual fee you can access hundreds of files worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops and webinars and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.
Just for Laughs
As we know laughter relieves stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.
It might not surprise you to know that I did a performance about puns. But really it was just a play on words.
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