Who we are
Changing young lives through music
About the ACMF
The Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF) is a not-for-profit organisation inspiring creativity and imagination by providing weekly music education classes and instruments to disadvantaged children and youth at risk throughout Australia. Our ACMF music programs bring students joy and hope, and are proven to achieve positive educational and behavioural outcomes.
We've been singing the same tune for 20 years, since the Australian Children's Music Foundation was founded in 2002, by singer/songwriter and talented entertainer: Don Spencer OAM. Don has a distinguished career in music, with multiple Platinum and Gold albums.
Through his many years working with children as a presenter on the TV show "Play School", Don was struck by the incredible potential that music has to engage children, and improve a child's quality of life.
The ACMF music programs are successful because they promise a LONG-TERM commitment - and are designed in partnership with each school, juvenile justice centre, or hospital - to meet the specific needs of the students, and to achieve the best and most lasting outcomes.
What music does
Playing music is one of the only activities that activates, stimulates, and uitilises the entire brain.
Engagement in music programs:
- Enhances fine motor skills
- Prepares the brain for achievement
- Fosters superior working memory
- Cultivates thinking skills
- Improves recall and retention of verbal information
- Boosts reading and English language skills
- Boosts creativity
- Allows disengaged students to re-engage with learning
- Builds trust and teamwork
- Builds confidence
- Builds resilience
Many children are not learning music
More than 70% of Australian public schools do not have dedicated music teachers.
In 2002, singer-songwriter, Don Spencer, OAM, founded the ACMF to address the needs of children who were not getting the benefits of music education.
“Research has proven the importance of music and arts education. And yet so many children don’t have access to music lessons. This is alarming. Every private school in the world teaches music. When I was young, every school had a music teacher and a piano. Where did the system go wrong?” – Don Spencer
Message from our Founder
"Music underpins the resilience and determination that many Australian kids need to overcome the challenges that life throws at them. The power of music can never be underestimated."
“I’ve seen firsthand, time and time again, how music sparks creativity and imagination. Music underpins the resilience and determination that many Australian kids need to overcome the challenges that life throws at them. The power of music can never be underestimated. A world without a music education is now a real one. The Australian Children’s Music Foundation works to redress this. Since we started in 2002 we have grown into a national organisation that has delivered free weekly music lessons and instruments to many thousands of disadvantaged and Indigenous children in schools and juvenile justice centres every year, in every state in Australia.
Our strength and many successes lie in our passion and our commitment. Our programs are conducted on a regular basis – and all of our music specialists have forged long-term bonds in the schools and justice centres in which they teach.
All our programs run for a minimum of three years, allowing real and lasting change to happen. We are continually growing, distributing more instruments and developing programs in urban, regional and remote communities right across the country. The ACMF has extensive programs in the Northern Territory and the Kimberly region of Western Australia. This year we plan to extend our reach to the southern part of Western Australia and South Australia and develop our music therapy programs into a number of children’s hospitals. The ACMF faces a constant funding challenge as each program we deliver costs approximately $35,000 per year. Our sustainability is dependent on a patchwork of funding sources including corporate partners, private trusts and foundations, and individual benefactors.”
Don Spencer OAM
Founder of the ACMF
Message from our Patron
“The work of Don Spencer OAM and the Australian Children’s Music Foundation is indeed important to the mental health of disadvantaged Australian children. It is a cause in which I have taken a keen interest, having experienced the remarkable difference that involvement in the arts, particularly music, can make to children and young people who may have lost their way in our society, or who are in danger of doing so.
Don and the ACMF teachers recognise what resonates with young people. They connect with them through classical to contemporary music programs ranging from singing and songwriting, percussion and instrument tuition. These programs are often the first time a young person is given the opportunity to learn anything with which they connect and can enjoy. This can lead not only to improvement in mental health and behaviour, but also a realisation that learning can be a pleasurable and meaningful experience. This re-engagement with education is vital to the welfare of disadvantaged youth and is of considerable value in promoting a healthy, inclusive, functioning society.”
Professor Dame Marie Bashir
Former Governor of New South Wales