Throughout 2020/2021 the ACMF is conducting a national comprehensive research impact report engaging all our major stakeholders (including teachers, students, and principals) in a large number of schools and juvenile justice centers where we have been running long-term music programs.
This extensive study and impact report consults a wide range of stakeholders in our operations to establish a “Theory of Change'” – distilling the complex processes that make up our activities into a series of linear and logical steps. This builds an in-depth understanding of our programs, their immediate and long-term outcomes, and helps to identify suitable performance measures. A full report will be completed by mid-2021. We hope that these findings bring us a step closer to the realization that all children have access to music to improve both their educational and behavioural outcomes.
The ACMF continually builds upon a unified body of research into the efficacy of our long-standing music programs, and their significant benefits to child and youth development and learning.
These benefits are noticeable across many aspects of education – particularly literacy, numeracy and attendance. In addition to the educational benefits, a multitude of other improvements are observed within emotional and psycho-social aspects.
Children and youth participating in our programs experience improvements in self-esteem, self-confidence and general mental wellbeing. The research and reports below invaluably demonstrate the benefits of music programs for children, and more broadly, help to convey the positive impacts of music education.
The Incus Group: ACMF Impact Measurement Program (2020)
This year, The Incus Group undertook an Impact Measurement Program for the Australian Children’s Music Foundation. The purpose of this project was to develop a framework to articulate, track, and report on the outcomes in schools for students, teachers and the community through music programs conducted by ACMF music teachers.
This project would not be possible without the generous support of the Tony Foundation, and Future Generation Investment Company (FGX) – who support the music programs in NSW areas of study.
Key findings derived from the research demonstrated the following:
- There was unanimous feedback on the skills and personal qualities of ACMF teachers in creating a positive environment and engaging children from all demographic backgrounds and capabilities.
- Music is an especially good platform to engage children who may not perform well in traditional school classes such as literacy, numeracy and science and help them find things that they can excel at.
- ACMF teachers are able to impart quality music lessons to students and provide them with a strong technical foundation to build on for future music education.
- The long-term commitment that ACMF provides through partnerships with schools was greatly praised due to the level of consistency in service delivery required to address the complex issues facing students and building trust with the local community.
- Learning outcomes in music classes greatly improved the confidence and self-esteem of students enabling them to be more involved in other classes and other aspects of school life.
- New skills and competencies demonstrated by students in music lessons acted as a social-leveller and allowed students to recognise each other’s talents levelling the playing field between classmates.
- The mode of engaging children and concepts learned provided impacts that reached beyond the music lessons and into other classes.
- Teachers have picked up on novel ways that ACMF teachers interact with students and have used such techniques to better manage students in the classes.
- Teachers are also better equipped and have increased confidence to teach music lessons to their students in the absence of ACMF teachers due to the techniques imparted and materials provided.
- Music classes run for students with special needs in high school are especially impactful as it provides them with new avenues to gain calmness to able to better engage with other lessons and an opportunity to engage with “mainstream” students.
- In regional areas, the school music program and public performances have a profound impact on the involvement of parents in the lives of their children as it provides them with new ways to engage with each other about school outside of traditional lessons.
- The school music program in regional areas also provides many of the students with a unique opportunity to engage in formal music lessons that they would not otherwise have access to.
- Musical lessons and performances are an entry point for families of children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds to better engage with school happenings.
The chart below presents a comprehensive account of qualitative findings during the NSW consultations that provide greater context and evidence to the key findings listed above – mapped to the ACMF Theory of Change:
ACMF CONNECT: Impact & Future Directions
During 2013 and 2014, the ACMF conducted a pilot teacher education program involving four schools from Little Bay in Sydney. Classroom teachers from these schools took part in three music teacher-training workshops, and were given teaching programs containing lesson plans, notation cards, a CD of accompanying songs and pieces, and a set of percussion instruments for use in class.
A research paper titled ‘Empowering teachers to change lives through music… ACMF CONNECT: Impact & Future Directions’ by Sue Arney and Neryl Jeanneret from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, examined the efficacy of the teacher training pilot project that the ACMF did in the Little Bay Community of Schools, and found that “The high impact on the teachers… is a testament to the careful and thoughtful planning of both the resources and the workshop strategies by ACMF”. For the full report, click here.
International Research into the Benefits of Music (The Music Trust)
Professor Margaret S. Barrett, world renowned researcher and music educator from the University of Queensland has conducted research on behalf of the ACMF. Her research has investigated the importance of music education for children in relation to creativity, early musical development, and the meaning and value of engagement in the music and arts activity. The ACMF was involved in the inquiry into the extent, benefits and potential of music education in Victorian schools by the Education and Training Committee of Victorian Parliament. The inquiry used case studies from Victorian schools as well as detailed research to explain the benefits of music for children. For the full report, please click here.
The Music Trust released a study in 2013, International Research into the Benefits of Music (The Music Trust). This study demonstrated that music contributes to students’ personal wellbeing through developing self-esteem and cognitive development, including abstract thinking, aural and spatial awareness, verbal understanding, kinetic / motor skills and provides a means for personal expression, communication, and personal, social and cultural identity formation. For the full report, click here.
Bridging the Gap in School Achievement through the Arts is another study into the gap in arts education in Australian Schools. The study investigated the huge disparity between students who study arts education and those who do not, highlighting the benefits of arts education on the emotional, academic and behavioural development of children. For the full report, click here.