SWOT Analysis of Studio Music Teaching - National


• The major strength of the NSW Music Teachers’ Association lies in its long and distinguished history having been in existence since 1912 [when known as ‘The Musical Association’] and recognised as the professional organisation offering dedicated support for studio music teachers of all instruments.

• The second major strength of the Association is its role as the organisation that administers the Accreditation of private music teachers in NSW. [see below]

• The Association is a limited company, a non-profit organisation formed under a Constitution ie. “THE MUSIC TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NEW SOUTH WALES LIMITED” and is managed on a voluntary basis by an elected Council of skilled professionals. The Constitution allows for a Council of 12 members including an Executive of President, Vice-President and Treasurer. In addition to the central office, there are two branches of the MTA -- in Newcastle and the Illawarra region, thus servicing a large part of the state and providing members with a link to teaching colleagues.

• An office is maintained and staffed by a paid Secretary and Administration Assistant on a part-time, shared basis.

• The MTA fulfils a number of roles for its members and the public -- not the least of which is to encourage high teaching standards - and to offer on-going professional development for its members

• On joining, all members are issued with a Code of Ethics outlining the standards they are expected to maintain as well as a copy of the Constitution.

Membership of the MTA is four-pronged:

[i] Full Membership for teachers who hold appropriate music teaching qualifications. Full members have full voting rights and are entitled to use the post-nominals MMTA after their names - Member of the Music Teachers’ Association.

[ii] Associate membership for teachers who are not yet fully qualified; or members of the public who are interested in the aims of the Association but are not necessarily teachers;

[iii] Contemporary membership for teachers working in that particular field; this category is a recent development and is seen as a positive move towards attracting teachers of contemporary music and at the same time, loosening the perception that the MTA is a ‘piano-based’ or ‘classical-based’ teaching organisation. Contemporary members are automatically deemed as ‘Full’ members with voting rights.

[iv] Student membership for full time music students.

In detail, the criteria for the above memberships are:

Full Membership: means a person who is engaged in the music teaching profession and has any of the following qualifications:

[i] a degree or diploma in music teaching from a recognised tertiary institution in Australia or, a person who holds an equivalent qualification awarded by any institution of education and recognised as such by the Council.

[ii] a school music teaching qualification approved by the Council

[iii] a degree, diploma, certificate or other qualification in the teaching of music which in the opinion of the Council confirms eligibility for Full membership; or

[iv] persons without formal qualifications who can prove competency in teaching music by providing evidence of successful professional teaching including references, student’s results, list of student’s achievements etc.

Associate Membership: is designed for persons without any formal music teaching degrees or diplomas or, persons simply interested in belonging to the Association and furthering its aims.

Contemporary Membership: is designed for those who have evidence of all or some of the following:

[i] acceptance as a teacher of contemporary/jazz/popular music at a tertiary institution [eg. TAFE, Consevatoria, University etc]. This could include teaching composition via computer/electronic means and audio engineering;

[ii] qualifications such as ADJS, Certificate 4, approriate Music Theatre qualifications or graduates of appropriate courses from the Film & Television School etc;

[iii] a proven record of successful teaching in the field via references, list of student’s achievements etc.;

[iv] submission of a CV

Student Membership'': is available to full time music students enrolled in a recognised undergraduate degree or diploma course. Student membership may only be held for 4 years and evidence of student status must be included with the membership application form.

• The Association offers a referral service for members of the public seeking a studio teacher in NSW. This service is available via contact with the office or via the Association’s website.

• Since 2011 the State government has agreed that all teachers who teach children under the age of 16, must apply for a Working with Children Check. The MTA requires the file number to be entered on the membership application form. It is then up to the members to renew their WWC at the appropriate time.

• The Association sets the recommended minimum teaching fee as a suggested guide for members and the public. From time to time, it has been found that the suggested fees form a useful guide for insurance companies or for those involved in issues of litigation.

• The Association organises professional development sessions including conferences, workshops, lectures and masterclasses to keep members up to date with developments in the field. A bi-annual Conference is held that attracts members and non-members from both within and inter-state.

Junior Music Festivals are held during the second half of each year. These are performance opportunities that attract hundreds of young players all of whom are under the age of 16. There are several instrumental categories -- piano, voice, strings, woodwind, percussion and brass. They are held in centres throughout Sydney as well as in Newcastle and the Illawarra region.

• The Association also administers two Scholarships ie. the Margaret Chalmers Scholarship open to students of members; and the The Elizabeth Todd Leider Prize in Memory of Geoffrey Parsons open to students of both members and non-members. The Frank Hutchens Scholarship for Composition, which is part of the Frank Hutchens Scholarship Fund is also administered by the MTA.

• The Association’s Gwenneth Hawkins Memorian Library holds thousands of items, including sheet music, scores and other references. It’s a growing entity in itself and is often added to by donations from teachers who have retired or estate donations. It is currently housed at the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and available to all members of the NSW MTA as well as membersof the MTA of South Australia. The cataloguing is on-going and adminstered by a volunteer.

The Studio is the quarterly journal of the Association and is sent out to all members. It is not a ‘newsletter’. Each issue contains four articles that are focussed on different pedagogical or historical aspects of teaching; also reviews of new material; and a section entitled Quarterly Notes that brings members up to date with upcoming professional development opportunities, or Junior Music Festivals, Scholarships or social events of relevance to the membership. The journal is available to members either in print form or via the members' portal of the website.

• A Benevolent Fund is administered and maintained by the Association, its function being to assist teachers in financial distress. The Fund is the recipient of donations from individuals, including bequests. Its administration is confidential and is separate from that of the Association per se and it is managed by a Committee of Management consisting of President, Vice-President and Honorary Treasurer and of such other persons (whether members of the Association or not) as Council may invite to serve on the Committee of Management.

• The Website is an attractive location and has increased the public’s awareness of the Association and its various activities. The site has information for teachers in general whether members or non-members, as well as for students, and includes a ‘teacher search’.

• In recent years, the sharing of information with MTAs in each State via the annual State Presidents’ Meeting has been a positive factor in comparing areas such as standards of teaching, fees, accreditation criteria, activities etc and has led to a collegiate atmosphere that benefits the members of MTAs around the country.

Accreditation of Private Music Teachers

• Accreditation is the process of formal recognition of an acceptable level of music teaching skills and an accredited private music teacher is considered to be able to teach effectively.

• Over the years, the role and status of the private [or ‘studio’] music teacher has changed dramatically. The second major strength of the NSW Association is its role as the organisation that administers the Accreditation of private music teachers in NSW. Acquiring this role in 1994 immediately lifted the status and public profile of the MTA as the professional private music teaching body in this State. The MTA has the largest number of members of any private music teaching organisation in NSW and as such, well placed to administer Accreditation.

• There is an important distinction between membership of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW, and Accreditation by the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW. Teachers wishing to be Accredited by the MTA do not have to be Members of the Association as the two functions of the Association are separate. This was agreed to when the MTA took on the role of Accreditation. It may be noted however, that the criteria for Full Membership and that for Accreditation, is the same.

• Historically, the process of Accreditation of studio music teachers in NSW dates back to the 1970s, when the Sydney [then NSW] Conservatorium of Music took on the task of enabling private music teachers who were not otherwise qualified, to take up training that would begin to develop a standard of studio teaching that would be acceptable to the public. The move was approved by State Cabinet. Both the teachers themselves and the MTA saw this as an excellent achievement and one that has been encouraged, maintained and developed over the last 40 years.

In 1994 when the Conservatorium underwent re-organisation and became part of the University of Sydney, the very important role of administering the official process of Accreditation was passed to the MTA and Council have guarded that role very conscientiously in order to continue to raise the status of the private music teaching profession.

• There are three categories of Accreditation offered in NSW, viz:

Category A

A person having successfully completed a degree or diploma in Music/Music Education from a recognised tertiary institution. The degree/diploma studied must have included a course in individual instrumental/vocal pedagogy. [NB: the criteria for Full Membership of the Association corresponds to Category A for Accreditation]

Category B

Teachers without formal qualifications may be considered for Accreditation if they can provide evidence of continued successful professional teaching. This can include references, lists of student achievements, examination results etc.

Category C

Teachers of contemporary music may be considered for Accreditation if they have evidence of all or some of the following:

[i] be accepted as a teacher of contemporary/jazz/popular music at a tertiary institution [eg. TAFE, Consevatoria, University etc]. This could include teaching composition via computer/electronic means and audio engineering;

[ii] any suitable qualification eg. ADJS, Certificate 4, approriate Music Theatre qualifications or graduates of appropriate courses from the Film & Television School etc;

[iii] a proven record of successful teaching in the field via references, list of student’s achievements etc.;

[iv] submission of a CV

As with Membership, the last category, of ‘Contemporary’ is seen as a positive move towards attracting teachers in contemporary fields such as jazz, and at the same time, loosening the perception that the MTA is a ‘piano-based’ or ‘classical-based’ teaching organisation.

• In a recent agreed move, members of the Music Teachers’ Associations of South Australia and the Northern Territory are also eligible to apply for Accreditation under the auspices of the MTA of NSW.

• Cognisant of the new and changing courses offered by various institutions, the Advanced Diploma of Teaching offered by the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music has been accepted as a part-qualification towards Accreditation, as has the Music Advanced Diploma of TAFE and the Teaching Diploma of the StCecilia School of Music.

• Ultimately, it is important that the public be able to engage a private music teacher who is a professional and has taken the time and trouble to pursue some kind of qualification. The MTA is very proud of its role in ensuring standards for accreditation and for giving credibility to studio music teachers in NSW.


Member attrition due to retirement and/or the attraction of other organisations is a weakness that is difficult to solve. New, young members are needed to ensure the future of the Association. Ways of attracting such persons are a constant quest particularly as young teachers are convinced everything they need is available on the internet so see no benefit in joining an organisation.

• Commercial web-based organsations that offer free or low-cost advertising, can be in direct competition with the MTA by allowing unqualiied teachers to advertise.

• The MTA is a self-funding organisation, with membership and accreditation fees it’s only source of income. Thus, there is a constant battle with being able to maintain an office, pay accountant’s and auditors fees, pay rent, office staff and other associated expenses.

Cost of delivering services to our members, such as our Association journal, The Studio.

• That most of our professional development activity centres in Sydney, and the MTA lacks funds for equipment needed to film and offer vimeo presentations to enable country members or those unable to attend on the day, to access the various professional development sessions. Registration for teachers to access vimeo would help ensure another avenue of funds.

• That the MTA is not eligible for tax donation status which prevents members or interested parties in donating funds in order to progress the aims of the Association including offering professional development sessions where presenters can be paid appropriate fees.

• Over the years it has become apparent that government bodies are simply not interested in establishing or recognising a standard in studio music teaching but conversely, insist on school teachers being suitably qualified whether they are or are not, able teachers.


• In the present climate, the greatest opportunity the Association has, is in putting a case to the government for professional recognition of studio music teachers and taking that a step further, in instigating a system of registration or licensing of teachers already accredited. This can simply take the form of recognition of the already existing system of Accreditation in this state and that of other states. At the 2007 State Presidents’ Meeting, in a collegiate effort, all states agreed to that principle and a statement devised at the meeting was worded as follows:

That the Music Teachers’ Association''s'' resolve to make a formal approach to Federal Government to recognise the importance of qualifications and standards for the private studio teaching members of their Associations who provide the foundations of instrumental, vocal and theoretical training to children and adults throughout Australia. The part these teachers play in the education and training of these students is essential for Australia’s wellbeing. The training and professional development of these practitioners is vital for the integrity of the sector.

• If the government were to recognise the MTA as the professional organisation it is, such recognition may lead to funding becoming available for professional development for members, a vital facet of staying informed of developments in the music teaching field.

To build larger numbers of professional teachers who choose to belong to the Association

To offer better service, systems and professional development which our competitors cannot do.

• To diversify our activities and engage a more diverse range of teachers.

• To enable regional activities via visiting clinicians who can promote the Association as well as develop teacher’s in their own locales.


• The major threat to the MTA is three-fold:

[1] an inability to attract young teachers, which could be remedied if a system of registration were instigated by the government;

[2] competition from commercial organisations that propert to ‘accredit’ studio music teachers for a fee and produce lists of teachers available to the public. Who recognises these organisations?

[3] whilst technologically brilliant the internet itself becomes a threat in purporting to substitute rather than enhance, learning opportunities for young teachers.

• Historically, non-registration/non-licensing of studio music teachers allows for anyone to set up a studio, regardless of age or qualifications, thus threatening established studios that are administered by experienced and qualified individuals. This creates an environment where the studio music teacher - who generally works in a home situation- is not taken seriously.


Dr Rita Crews OAM

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