The studio music teacher has played a pivotal role in the training of instrumentalists and voice students in Australia for over a century. Most professional musicians were initially taught by a studio music teacher and many studio teachers also teach at schools, music conservatoriums, and tertiary institutions. Studio teachers have practices in all States and Territories, both in cities and country areas.
The teaching of music at home or in a private studio is a cottage industry and unregulated. Anyone can set themselves up as a studio music teacher regardless of their personal training and competence. Consequently the quality of their work is variable, ranging from outstanding to very poor.
There are a number of associations which support the studio music teacher. They include specific instrument associations such as:
The Suzuki Association also caters for the training and professional development of Suzuki teachers.
The studio music teacher has also had the support of Music Teachers Associations (MTAs) in each State and in the Northern Territory (see details in the next section). The associations in the five mainland States date back to between 1911 and 1930.
The MTAs are made up of dedicated volunteer studio teachers who provide an important role in improving the quality and status of the profession. They offer:
The websites of the five mainland State MTAs provide directory information on how to search for teachers, information for members, accreditation information, events and courses, and references to MTA journals, newsletters and directories. Three MTAs show approximate number of members: Victoria currently 950, Queensland almost 800, and South Australia 330.
The statistical knowledge base paper on Musicians in the Census provides some perspective on these numbers. Long-term, the number of private music teachers has increased at a faster rate than the number of musicians, but their average income is lower (try searching for ‘music teachers’ in the statistical paper to gain a quick impression).
Comparison with the number of MTA members above at first glance suggests that they comprise roughly 40-50% of all private music teachers counted in the Census (see Table 1.2.10 in the statistics appended to Musicians in the Census). This partly reflects the difference between accredited studio teachers and all those calling themselves private music teachers, but definitional issues in the Census (‘main occupation last week’), and because not all MTA members are practising studio music teachers.
If further research could identify those accredited members that are, we would get closer to a true comparison with Census data. Furthermore, the 1996 Census results are starting to emerge.
In the past attempts have been made to form a national association which would register and accredit studio teachers. The National Institute of Music Teachers was formed but no longer exists. Since 2004 the MTAs have met to discuss issues pertinent to their associations. They have elected not to support the development of another national institute but to share information and identify issues relevant to each of the MTAs. Current issues include:
Information regarding each of the Music Teachers Associations is provided below. Summarising what is available on mainland State MTA websites, each shows current key contact, welcome, history and objectives (‘about us’ web pages), number of branches, teacher search facilities and/or teacher directories, information on membership and accreditation, relevant events and courses, and references to a newsletters and journals for members. Most mainland State websites also have lists of potentially useful links to other organisations.
Compared to the five mainland States, the website for the Tasmanian MTA is less detailed, while the Australian Capital Territory is represented as a branch of the NSW MTA, and only an email address is available for the Northern Territory MTA. Music. Play for Life notes: “There are yet very few online resources for finding music teachers in the Northern Territory. Hopefully this will improve!” The MPFL pages also contain comprehensive references on how to find music teachers in each State and Territory.
The following information, including current activities in 2007, was supplied for this article by each MTA (two of them supplied mission or general purpose statements which are illustrative of other MTAs as well). The information also listed current office holders and addresses but it is more appropriate to consult each MTA website for up-to-date contact details and main identities.
The Music Teachers Association of New South Wales has eight membership categories:
Accreditation: Membership is available for performers and teachers. Evidence of music qualifications and successful teaching is required. The category of contemporary/jazz and popular music requirements is more flexible.
Publications: The Studio gives details of all events held in NSW including the Junior Music Festivals, various workshops and social events.
Sponsorship: MTA NSW is sponsoring two awards totalling $2,000 in the 2008 Sydney International Piano Competition ($500 for commissioned work, $1500 for encouragement award).
Benevolent Fund: Fees paid for country teachers to attend Empower your Teaching, to support country members affected by drought.
Advanced Diploma of Music: The Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and MTA NSW have reached an agreement regarding the Advanced Diploma in Music offered by the Wollongong Conservatorium and especially designed for private music teachers to gain a qualification in pedagogy.
The mission of the Victorian Music Teachers Association (Inc) is to “foster excellence in the teaching of instrumental and vocal music in the State of Victoria through the provision of Registration standards; attendance at high level professional development opportunities provided by the Association; collegial support from the Association; the publication of Journals and Newsletters; and the public listings of registered teachers.”
Membership categories: Fully Accredited, Provisional, Associate Teacher, and Student. Register of members available on website.
Publications: Journal - Music and The Teacher (twice a year), Newsletter five each year.
Professional development: (recitals/lectures/masterclasses/seminars):
The Queensland Music Teachers Association has six membership categories: New teaching member, Teaching member, Friend member, Student member, and Journal only.
In addition to the Brisbane head office, there are eight Queensland branches ranging from Cairns in the north to Gold Coast in the south, reflecting the decentralised nature of the State.
Publication: Circulation of three Bravura magazines a year (800 printed)
The South Australian Music Teachers Association, with a membership of 330 and rising, has four membership categories: Full, General, Associate, and Student.
Professional Development Days 2007:
Performance opportunities include Concert Performance days and SACE (years 11 and 12) performances
Competitions (at Home Studio 35a Orlando Ave, Hampstead Gardens; details on website):
Lobbying/Advocacy on behalf of Music Education - in particular studio teaching re:
MTASA Affiliates (Societies of performers/teachers who advertise in the MTASA Handbook). Sponsors - 19 including affiliates.
The West Australian Music Teachers Association (Inc) is the oldest professional association of private music teachers in Australia. It exists solely for the benefit of members and endeavours to safeguard conditions and general aspects of studio music teaching. It provides services for teachers and the general public and is a non-profit organisation, run by a council of volunteers, including metropolitan, country and student representatives. See WAMTA’s ‘welcome’ page for a summary of membership benefits and other activities.
Newsletter: Monthly Music Teachers’ Bulletin, informing teachers of events.
Protection of children: The Working with Children check is now compulsory, endorsed by the Government as law. Teachers are required to have their WWC number registered with the Association.
Membership categories: Not ascertained.
Accreditation courses by correspondence: The Association runs courses which cover teaching principles, aural training, rudiments and elementary harmony, history of music.
Professional Development: For a 2007 list of professional seminars organised by WAMTA, see AMEB WA’s Music Teachers’ Handbook, p 13.
Student Forum: Performance opportunities for young students (of MTA teachers) to play in public. Held from March to November, first Saturday of month.
Sponsorship: Keyed Up - four piano recitals organised by the University of WA School of Music. The biennial event is also funded by the WA Piano Pedagogy Convention.
The Tasmanian Music Teachers Association provides a range of worthwhile musical experiences and opportunities for its members. The Association seeks to assist its members through:
TMTA has three branches: Southern Tasmania, Northern Tasmania, and North West Tasmania. It maintains a register of qualified members, and offers a referral service to the public. Teachers must meet strict criteria in order to become a member of the Association.
There are three levels of membership: Senior Registered, Registered, and Associate.
Students of members are eligible for TMTA Awards, and are able to participate in many music-making activities organised by the Association including workshops, master classes, competitions and concerts.
Publications: Annual journal, and newsletters.
Professional Development and performance:
Contact President Jill Kuhn for information.
Listed in a pdf file.
Dr Anne Lierse Last updated: 19 September 2007