Professor Gary McPherson - Ormond Chair and Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium.
Thursday November 9 - Rhodes Theatre
Last Thursday evening a very engaged audience of parents, students, teachers and musicians were captivated by the Community Forum presented on the Childhood Musician by Professor McPherson.
Through vignettes of different research projects and case studies of students from around the world, his talk shared a wonderful insight into the factors that impact student engagement in music, ranging from Self-Determination Theory (autonomy, competence and relatedness) http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/ and the impact that this has on the choices humans make to engage in and study music, through to Self-Regulation Theory and the way that music has the ability to impact students in the key areas of planning, monitoring and setting goals as they undertake their musical journey. Most importantly, Professor McPherson highlighted the need to ensure that students enjoy those early years of music making "allowing them to move in an out of different experiences". He noted that it is quite common for students to move between instruments at a young age and that the most successful and long-term engagement comes when students develop an intrinsic love of music, rather than receiving extrinsic rewards for undertaking practice for keeping up with the requirements of their teachers.
Importantly, he noted that the best teachers have clearly articulated expectations for their students, which allow them to really enjoy the music making once they have developed the necessary understanding and skill. He emphasised the importance of developing 'Intrinsic' motivation and the need to allow our young musicians to develop a 'Growth' mindset along their journey https://www.mindsetonline.com/ . He also referenced key books and authors who are valuable resources to use in this area of musical development, including the seminal book "Drive" by esteemed author and presenter, Daniel Pink http://www.danpink.com/
Throughout the presentation, the captivated audience were able to see the power of music, whether through participation in singing at school, learning an instrument individually or through performance in an ensemble. Gary cleverly connected all the pieces of the learning jigsaw together, allowing everyone to gain a clear understanding of the best way to engage our young musicians so that they continue their involvement for life. He highlighted the need for parents to ensure that they place a value on learning music at a young age and also shared research which highlighted that many of the best musicians are exposed to and listen to music from a very young age.
In a school that has such a strong music program, we were thrilled to hear this presentation from one of the leading academics in this field. We thank Professor McPherson for taking the time to share his work at the Barker Institute. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gary_Mcpherson2