The Music Engagement Program of the ANU School of Music has been designed and developed by A/Prof Susan West, based on research and development spanning over three decades.
The program is based on A/Prof West’s philosophy of shared, altruistic music making known as The Music Outreach Principle, inspired by the work of Dr John Diamond M.D. The principal focus in this approach is on the social intent embedded in the music making, rather than the skills that are traditionally defined as 'progress' in music development. Many music programs throughout the world are designed to help people through the use of music. The MEP’s unique approach goes a step further, embedding facilitation training into the process of music making: in effect, it helps others to help others to make music. The intent of each music maker is to encourage the music making of others through singing and/or instrumental engagement in order to promote wellbeing and social harmony. The Program does not define a particular methodological approach, rather it defines a philosophical position that prioritises the development of the will to engage, and engage others, out of which flows skill development as befits each individual. Each participant becomes both a music maker and a facilitator of the music making of others, regardless of skill level, age, disability or, indeed, any other form of exclusion.
What is the Music Outreach Principle?
The Music Engagement Program Music Outreach Principle (MOP) is an extremely simple social philosophy of music making. It is draws on the philosophies of Dr John Diamond and encompasses a modern interpretation of the idea that sharing music making promotes general well being as well as skill development.
As the name implies, the Music Outreach Principle involves making music with the intent of altruistically reaching out to others. In essence, individuals involved are encouraged to think: ‘I make music in order that others will make music, for the benefit of all’. This intent is exercised not just from ‘teacher’ to ‘student’ but is passed on from individual to individual so that all music making ‘reaches out’ in an on-going cycle.
The aim of the Music Outreach Principle is to allow all participants to be both givers and receivers of music through helping others to engage in music making. In essence, all participants become facilitators in shared music making. Since the Music Outreach Principle is not focused or reliant on the musical skills of the music makers, there is no minimum musical requirement. Thus, everybody is already musically qualified to engage in outreach activities. It is through the on-going involvement in practical music making that musical skills are developed as a natural and stress-free outcome of joyful engagement.
The Program has continued to develop and expand its suite of offerings in close consultation with the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) of the ACT. Teachers are now required to register with the TQI and complete hours of Professional Learning in both TQI accredited courses as well as teacher-identified non-accredited courses.
The MEP has accredited a suite of free courses, continuing the short-course model first trialed in 2013. This still allows teachers to engage in as much, if not more, professional learning than was offered by the earlier 16 week course model if they choose to do so. The shorter courses provide opportunities for teachers with less time and more specific needs to engage in whatever ways they feel able. The range of training opportunities trialed in 2014 grew in popularity in 2015 and 2016, with a view to expanding these opportunities into 2017.
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