SWOT Analysis of Studio Music Teaching in Queensland

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Update

The author, John Colwill, wrote this analysis in 2008. He is no longer part of the MTAQ community and cannot comment on what is still relevant or needs updating. Responding to our request for an update he states: As the document stands it is accurate for the time. HHG, Editor 29.9.2014.

Strengths

  • MTAQ[1] is a distinguished 87 years old [in 2008] and in that time, the association has been at the forefront in the state of making music, organizing competitions, encouraging composition and co-ordinating teacher education.
  • The Association is an incorporated non-profit organization, registered as the “Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland Inc.” with annually audited financial reports.
  • The association has one employee, a paid Secretary whose commitment to the task is exemplary and an elected council of nine members whose efforts are untiring. Council elects the unpaid positions of President and Vice-president and the position, again unpaid, of Treasurer is elected at the Annual General Meeting. These positions are limited by the Constitution to four years' continuous service.
  • The Constitution of the Association (revised 2000) establishes a high degree of professionalism for MTAQ members, presently categorized as Teaching Members, those holding appropriate degrees, diplomas and/or student results – awards with pedagogy subjects are preferred; Associate Members – students engaged in full or part-time study for an award; and Friends, those not engaged in teaching but with an interest in the organization. Whilst there is no government accreditation (as yet) in our Queensland legislation, the scrutiny by Council to which new applications are subject maintains the standards of the association.
  • All members are issued with a booklet, Guidelines for Music Teachers that details the standards expected. Recent additions include information on studio teachers’ legal obligations to maintain a current Blue Card and a written Risk Management Strategy. When the latter was installed as legislation, MTAQ led the liaison with the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian[2] to provide a template for all studio teachers in the state, not just MTAQ members.
  • For the last five years the association has prioritised professional development for its members and allows members to attend one-off seminars in the metropolitan area, free of charge.
  • Biennially the Association organizes a weekend of professional development named in memory of the late Alan Lane,[3] a distinguished teacher and academic whose career at the Queensland Conservatorium impacted on many Queenslanders. His son, an internationally acclaimed concert artist, Piers Lane,[4] is one of our MTAQ patrons. The most recent event was in June 2008. It was held in Townsville just before the Australian Festival of Chamber Music[5] of which Lane is the artistic director.
  • Much of this professional development has focussed on piano, theory and voice. This year MTAQ held the first of its series of brass workshops (February 2008) and will continue with professional development for wind teachers. The professional development workshop in March 2008 was dedicated to aural training.
  • It has come to our notice that the association’s minimum recommended rates for individual studio lessons are referred to by many institutions, choirs and organizations to set hourly rates and honoraria for teachers, tutors, choir conductors and lecturers. For the first time in the Association’s history in 2007, council set minimum recommended rates for workshops and group lessons as well as for tertiary teachers.
  • The Association has a Brisbane office in premises owned by MTAQ, an exceptional circumstance in a survey of music support organizations, achieved by the astute financial management of members in 1987.
  • MTAQ has eight active branches around Queensland, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Biloela.
  • At the end of 2007 MTAQ boasted 620 teaching members, 37 student associates, 41 friends of the association, and 26 more paid to receive Bravura, our tri-annual magazine.
  • The Association arranges for discounts for Teaching Members with retail outlets and insurance companies offering Public Liability.
  • MTAQ’s magazine Bravura published in March, July and November is posted to 700 recipients, members, friends and sponsors. It, along with the website’s Members Only Page and regular email notices from the secretary’s desk is praised for keeping members up to date and informed of seminars, ideas, job opportunities.
  • The association’s website daily receives 300 to 400 hits many of which we estimate to be for referrals for studio teachers in Queensland, and our secretary fields up to or above 50 monthly phone enquiries on the same matter.
  • The Association has the generous support of the music industry and examination bodies whose sponsorship fosters professional delivery of our services, including the annual Queensland Vocal Competition[6] (since 2001) and the Queensland Piano Competition[7] (since 1993). This year will see the inauguration of the Queensland Wind and Brass Competition[8] in October.
  • For students and teachers who shy away from competitions, a Student Performers’ Society[9] was inaugurated in 2007. Three events are again being held in 2008 and the excess funds from these concerts will go towards a new scholarship.
  • MTAQ Brisbane office currently administers one scholarship trust, The Nancy Weir Scholarship for regional students. Many of the Branches have other generous scholarship trusts.
  • MTAQ is proud to have as its patrons, Piers Lane, afore-mentioned, Max Olding,[10] recitalist, Federal Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB)[11] examiner and respected teacher, and recently appointed, Lisa Gasteen,[12] stellar soprano on the international stage.
  • Within Brisbane, groups of teachers – Northside, Westside and Southside Groups, meet on a regular basis, often monthly for workshops, sharing of ideas and support.
  • The Association maintains a library of scores, reference books and other items. We are finding that it is little used and that articles and links posted on our website are a more ready source of information.
  • The healthy sharing of policies and strategies between our state MTAs has in recent years coordinated a national approach to these matters which promises a possible federal standard for criteria for MTA membership and studio teacher accreditation.

Weaknesses

  • Member numbers maintaining but not expanding; recent graduates are not easily attracted to the association
  • Perception that MTAQ and AMEB are aligned and the organization is for ‘piano teachers only’
  • Professional development is not widely supported or attended. A survey on the topic at the end of 2007 of our 600 teaching members returned 100 respondents. 70% of these supported the proposal of maintaining membership if professional development were made a condition of continuing membership. When this response is calculated on the total membership of MTAQ the result of little more than 10% is not encouraging.
  • Relevance to changing world; need to embrace different approaches to teaching, make ourselves familiar with use of IT tools
  • Funds (lack of) and demands on time of voluntary officers – treasurer and president
  • Size of state of Queensland – comment from branches – ‘We pay Brisbane office our affiliation fees and what do we get in return?’
  • Structure of organization – Branches are semi-autonomous able to set membership fees.
  • The regional Branches are finding it difficult to sustain interest in co-ordinating Branch activity and maintaining executive positions.
  • Membership categories establish high professional standards but are exclusive of those teachers who should ideally be embraced and mentored by association.

Opportunities

  • Attract new and younger members through boosting ‘professionalism’ of association – more professional development for all types of teaching. Greater numbers of teachers within the Association who are recognized as truly ‘professional’ will bolster the standing of the ‘studio music teacher’.
  • Advertise more widely the aims and benefits of membership of MTAQ to teachers, potential teachers and parents looking for teachers. Address issue of supposed allegiance to particular examination bodies by informing public about healthy sponsorship from examination bodies, such as Trinity College,[13] ANZCA[14] and ABRSM[15] as well as AMEB.
  • Educate members and potential members of the benefits of continuing education, professional development and sharing of ideas in workshops and masterclasses.
  • Engage teachers who are conversant with technology tools to inform members
  • Lobby government for recognition of need to support our MTAQ to increase professionalism of organization that provides the basis and penetration of music education in regional and metropolitan Queensland. With greater fund base, the association can remunerate its volunteer management, access more teachers with professional development and raise the profile of the ‘professional studio music teacher’ who can mentor and encourage the teacher who is less skilled but nevertheless teaching.
  • Engage our MTAQ branches in greater dialogue on essential issues and discuss these at the Alan Lane Memorial Weekend in Townsville, June 2008.
  • Discussion has begun to re-organize the structure of the Association and its Branches, to centralize accounting and setting of fees for regional members.
  • Plans are afoot to re-define membership of MTAQ to more easily embrace beginning, less qualified or less experienced teachers within a broader category of Associate Membership.
  • The most exciting opportunity available to Australia’s MTAs is the collegiate sharing and development of strategies afforded by the regular meeting of state MTA presidents, most recently on 2 August 2008 in Sydney. From our Melbourne meeting in 2007 the following was proposed -

That the Music Teachers’ Associations 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.

Threats

  • A major distraction (possibly a threat?) is the proliferation of professional organizations that have been developed to speak for the specific interests of segmented sectors of the teaching community. Whilst this makes sense at a practical level - X doesn’t overwhelm Y and diminish the needs of Z - at a political level we are weakened by the resultant inability (lack of time?) to co-ordinate the endeavours of the whole community of teachers. OPPORTUNITY – coordinate meeting of various bodies at a state and federal level.
  • The embedding of one-on-one lessons in the 9 to 3 timetable of many schools, usually private, tends to create a sector of teachers who can be overlooked and paid much less than the recommended minimum MTA fee.
  • The ability of virtually anyone, qualified or not, to set up a shingle as a teacher of music and charge much less (in some cases much more) than the accepted recommended fees – often this (lack of qualifications) is a necessity in regional Australia and a heavy handed approach will disadvantage the disadvantaged but stricter control is inevitable in this age of litigation and legislation. OPPORTUNITY- We need to be prepared to meet government with an accreditation plan in place.

References

  1. http://www.mtaq.org.au/
  2. http://www.ccypcg.qld.gov.au/
  3. http://www.mtaq.org.au/allanLaneMemorial.htm
  4. http://www.pierslane.com/
  5. http://www.afcm.com.au/
  6. http://www.mtaq.org.au/vocal_comp.htm
  7. http://www.mtaq.org.au/piano_com.htm
  8. http://www.mtaq.org.au/WoodwindBrass.htm
  9. http://www.mtaq.org.au/Student_performers_society.htm
  10. http://www.nqconcerto.org/History/2006%20Comp.html
  11. http://www.ameb.edu.au/
  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Gasteen
  13. http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/
  14. http://www.anzca.com.au/html/s01_home/home.asp?dsb=39
  15. http://www.abrsm.org/?page=home

Author

John Colwill, President MTAQ. Submitted 4 March 2008. Entered on knowledge base 3 September 2008. Initial note added 29.9.2014.
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