New on the Knowledge Base


Links Between the Neurobiology of Oxytocin and Human Musicality. Alan Harvey. Many characteristics of the biology of the hormone oxytocin mirror the diverse effects that music has on human cognition and emotion.

At moments like these, we need a cultural policy. Julian Meyrick, Julianne Schultz and Justin O’Connor. Despite the cultural sector’s especially perilous situation under COVID, the Commonwealth has shown little interest or concern.

INSIDE THE MUSICIAN. Cheetham, Deborah: One Day in January, Finding Dutala. Deborah Cheetham, pioneer of Australian Indigenous participation in classical music, describes circumstances and initiatives.

Kids who learn clause chain languages are quicker to develop complex sentences. Hannah Sarvasy. The structure of some languages advantages learning. (Are there parallels in music?)

Lost Operas of Oz. Stuart Maunder. State Opera of South Australia has committed to the second or subsequent production of 20C Australian operas.

INSIDE THE MUSICIAN. Perica, Vanessa: Freeing the Voice Within. Perica comes to public attention via a recording of her compositions by a superb jazz big band. She describes her musical world.

June 2020

The reconstructed Music in Australia Knowledge Base will launch on Friday June 5.

Some 450 articles on the Knowledge Base have been reorganised onto a new ‘tree of knowledge’. There will be two ways you can find what you need: one is to use the general SEARCH engine. The second is to find the best category or ‘domain’ on the tree, to suit your purposes.

Check out the ‘tree’ below.

So you could go to Domain 1, Music and Human Development, Health, and the articles relevant to that subject will come up. Or go to 1a, Music’s Effects on Human Development, and get the articles that fit that narrower specification. 1b is Music’s Effects on Health and Well-Being.

Then, within any of those categories, you can choose to see only the articles that set out issues of contention, or statistics, or research projects. There is also a ‘mapping’ option. If you chose, say ‘Orchestras’ and the mapping filter, you will discover what comprises the world of orchestras in Australia.

The Knowledge Base is a valuable resource and is used by people from around Australia and indeed, the world. About one third of the visitors are from overseas – some 60 countries. Currently, visits are running at the rate of about 70,000 per year.

So while most readers come from within Australia, foreigners are also using it to discover what is here, how it works, and perhaps whether they want to be involved with the Australian musical world, and how.

In a new addition, the INSIDE THE MUSICIAN articles published in Loudmouth over the last few years will also be found on the Knowledge Base. (Go to 7a.) To discover Australia’s musical world, overseas people can go to the maps or the statistics or the issues papers and get the descriptions of the institutions and the activities and the data. But as a quite different approach, they could read the articles written by the musicians and composers in the INSIDE THE MUSICIAN series, about their personal experiences and observations as Australian music practitioners.

For your interest, below are the main branches of the ‘tree’. On the Knowledge Base itself, click on the NAVIGATION button, and climb the tree to find your best vantage points.

You’ll see that there are FIVE main domains – A, B, C, D, E. To get to them, you sort of climb DOWN the tree. What you really want will probably be in the detail within those main domains.

Ahh, the musical world is so complicated. An arts person once said to me: ‘Music. Music’s like Africa!’

Music in Australia Knowledge Base

The Structure


The Knowledge Base has five principal domains.

(Music’s role in human development and well-being; education in music; music in society)

(The creation of music; musical genres; music theory, how music works, history.)

(Its economics, sources of information, legal issues, activities from live performance to online media, physical requirements, employment.)

(Governments’ relevant policies, regulation, financial involvement; politics.)

(International models and comparisons; Australia’s international activities.)

Under these domains there are sub-domains, and sub-sub-domains. Even a few sub-sub-sub-domains. So you can see all the parts of the music world and how they fit together. It could make searching so much more logical.

If you go to and click on STRUCTURE, you will see the entire tree – roots and branches. 

Click on NAVIGATION and you are able to go also to the leaves.

APRIL 2019



“If pouring more money into the system actually increases inequity, then that’s astounding from a social justice point of view,” says Glenn Savage, a senior lecturer in education policy at the University of Western Australia. “It means we’re using public money to continue the reproduction of advantage and disadvantage rather than creating more equality of opportunity, which is a major part of what education is supposed to do.”

Learn more…

MUSIC EDUCATION STRATEGY 2019 TO 2029, SOUTH AUSTRALIA is a policy document released by the Liberal government elected in 2018. In the Australian context, it is an unusual and rounded document showing the intentions of the government although not yet, therefore, the achievement. It gives some detail about various aspects of the program including the program to teach musical instruments, which has had something of a careening ride in recent decades.

Learn more…

The LABOR NATIONAL POLICY PLATFORM: POLICY FOR THE ARTS 2019 announces the Party’s intentions if it is elected in May. The arts policy is included in the overall policy platform, which seems to be a positive, normalising initiative. The first paragraph makes a statement about the arts, artists, their beneficial contribution to community and the economy, their utility… The other ‘planks’ of the policy set out intentions related to market, economic development, regulation such as copyright, the creative industries, cultural diversity, creativity, exports. Commentary by Richard Letts.

Learn more…

ARTS ELECTION POLICY OF NSW STATE LABOR PARTY, 2019, was announced in advance of the March election. It is based on a state parliamentary inquiry into an ailing commercial music industry, its main focus. It mentions broader arts policy but is not itself really an arts policy nor a music policy that goes far beyond popular music. As it turns out, Labor was not elected. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to occasionally have evidence that a political party has applied itself to the situation of music or the arts. Will the newly re-elected conservative government address some of the problems described here?

Learn more…

October, 2018


A SWOT analysis of jazz in Australia. This new study from the Music Trust outlines the activity in the Australian jazz sector and then analyses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the external threats to its well-being. There is a basis here for a development strategy but the SWOT essentially leaves that to others. In very brief summary, the practice of the art form is assessed as robust and of high quality but its economic situation is weak. Opportunities for development are abundant but material support is lacking. There are some important external threats including a further loss of government support and regulatory threats to the operation, indeed existence, of jazz venues.

Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry: Final Report. Findings of the report include:

  • 44% of industry workers reported moderate to severe anxiety. This is ten times higher than the prevalence of anxiety in the general population.
  • An indicator of depression suggested levels in industry workers may be as much as five times higher than the general population.
  • Australian Entertainment Industry Workers experience suicidal ideation 5-7 times more than the general population and 2-3 times more over a lifetime.
  • Suicide planning for Australian Entertainment Industry workers is 4-5 times more than general population.

It has led to the development of programs and the paper has links to them.

Cultural data for each Australian electorate. The Australia Council has published a great interactive page online, Electorate Profiles. Readers can select any one of the 150 Commonwealth electorates and discover information of value to strategic planning for their personal or organisational use, or advocacy. The data include such things as population, arts attendances, attitudes to the arts, ticket-buying behaviour, links to other information and much more.

September 2018


David Pledger’s Cultural Revolution

The then Commonwealth Arts Minister George Brandis diverted a large portion of the budget of the national arts funding agency the Australia Council, which is a statutory authority with the right to decide the recipients of government arts funds without interference from the Minister, to his own Ministry. There, he could have direct control over those funding decisions. The statutory independence was intended to prevent funding decisions being made to serve a political purpose, whether that was to benefit supporters of government policies or to serve a minister’s personal ambitions.

So there were various reasons the arts community saw the actions as contrary to its own interests and to the interests of the Australia Council. It mounted a vigorous public campaign and actually was able to cause a Senate Inquiry into the Minister’s decisions. The campaign elicited a large number of official submissions from arts organisations and artists.

However, the Australia Council mounted no public advocacy on the matter, even though the Minister’s actions were against the artists’ perception of their own interests, and the Minister had taken action with treatment of the Australia Council that lacked even common courtesy.

Many in the arts community were very disappointed in the Australia Council’s decision not to oppose the Minister publicly. David Pledger published an article articulating that position and proposing some revolutionary changes to the Australia Council. A link is provided to Pledger’s article.

Here in the Knowledge Base, Richard Letts opposes Ledger’s position. Letts understands that his own position will not be popular among his colleagues, but believes that for the Australia Council to stand in opposition to its own minister could incite his revenge and that could damage the situation of the arts more than it does the Council.

David Pledger’s cultural revolution

SWOT Analysis of Art Music Composition in Australia

The SWOT analysis sets out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the composers of art music and their works. This is one of a set of papers in the Knowledge Base laying out the situation of many categories of musical activity.

The paper begins with a factual description of the situation of musical composition of art music (mainly new classical music and jazz) in Australia and proceeds from there to the analysis. Interested readers are invited to send in comments for possible addition to the paper.

SWOT Analysis of Art Music Composition in Australia

Australian National Arts Policy Making

This important paper, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ARTS POLICY, is primarily a description of the policy making process at the national level, the efforts by the arts sector to influence the outcomes and an overall assessment of the status and effectiveness of policy making.

It traces the history of arts policy making, the formation of arts policy and funding agencies, the processes that have been used by various governments to develop arts policy. It’s a very mixed picture. This is a very serious and detailed paper written by someone who has worked at a high level in various roles in the arts and brings personal knowledge as well as the fruits of broader study.

Australian National Arts Policy


June 2018

This month, four new papers have been added to the Knowledge Base.

10 WAYS TO SAVE LIVE MUSIC IN YOUR CITY outlines the strategies adopted for Melbourne by the industry and city and state governments.

Learn more…

INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY: WORKFORCE FOR THE NEW ECONOMY points to the obvious role of arts education in building an innovative workforce, and puts forward actions to be undertaken by a so far reluctant government.

Learn more…

According to OECD benchmarks, AUSTRALIA LAGS OTHER NATIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE, due above all to insufficient government funding.

Learn more…

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MANIPULATION OF ARTS SUBSIDIES records changes made in the allocation of arts subsidies especially those previously diverted from management by the Australia Council to direct control by the Arts Minister.

Learn more…

May 2018


New South Wales Regional Conservatoriums: responding to school communities and state education policy. This paper offers key information about the 17 conservatoriums, unique in Australia. They are community owned, subsidised by the NSW government, and offer music lessons, ensembles to individuals and music education services on contract to some 400 schools. They are a source of expertise otherwise concentrated in the metropolitan area.

Learn more…

Promoting diversity of cultural expression in the arts in Australia is an official report on Australia’s implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, in the form of a set of case studies. This excerpt from the report focuses on the programs of Multicultural Arts Victoria, which gives special emphasis to music. It list the other seven programs in the report.

Learn more…

Cultural diversity in the creative sector: inching towards a more democratic culture, briefly summarises observations and proposals from leading thinkers on inclusion and representation of culturally diverse artists and arts practices within the creative sector in Sydney.

Learn more…

Ethnomusicology in Australia describes how and where the discipline is conducted and some of its more notable achievements. There is a related SWOT analysis of the sector.

Learn more…

April 2018

Detailed account and discussion of large-scale opera

Six papers on opera in Australia have been added to the Knowledge Base. The Commonwealth Minister for Arts instigated a review of the four main companies funded by the Commonwealth. The review panel commissioned a Discussion Paper which lays out a large amount of data about the sector. This was followed by the Report by the Review Panel, with its recommendations to the government and that in turn was followed by a response from the government giving an indication of the actions it would take.

Interspersed between these government reports are firstly, an extensive submission by the Music Trust, taking into account the information in the Discussion Paper and making its own proposals for change; also the responses by Richard Letts to the Report of the Review Panel and his further response to the government’s plan of action.

The Review Panel’s Report appears to have taken up some of the Music Trust’s proposals although of course, there is no acknowledgement. In Letts’s view it fails to deal realistically with important issues of repertoire and survival of the art form even though recognising their importance. Letts’s responses may be in some aspects contentious and have not been tested in any official discussion. However, they  may stimulate discussion and future action..

The six papers between them give a good account of the big end of the opera town but partly due to the restrictive Terms of Reference laid down by the Arts Minister, do not cover the important activities of the Victorian (state) Opera or some vital small companies that present early opera and new opera.

March 2018

NAPLAN 2017: Results Have Largely Flat-Lined, and Patterns of Inequality Continue

NAPLAN 2017: RESULTS HAVE LARGELY FLAT-LINED, AND PATTERNS OF INEQUALITY CONTINUE includes a statistical update of the outcomes. While NAPLAN continues to have broad support in the education bureaucracies, it seems to have little benefit to academic outcomes and many attribute to it a de facto narrowing of the curriculum. Our concern is that the tool of measurement is in a sense becoming the curriculum and in many schools is causing closure of arts programs as principals pursue higher rankings for their schools.

Learn more…

Australian Music Vault, a new museum of popular music

AUSTRALIAN MUSIC VAULT, a new museum of popular music has opened in Melbourne and displays artefacts associated with successful Australian popular musicians.

Learn more…

2017 Was a Great Year for Australian Musical Theatre

2017 WAS A GREAT YEAR FOR AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE because of the large number of Australian musicals written and taken on stage. They are listed in the article. Of course, the great majority of these musicals are small scale but Muriel’s Wedding, a musical version of the successful film, is a rare mainstage success. Meanwhile, an incubator effect is building, for instance through the 111 seat Hayes Theatre in Sydney, which is encouraging local creators and performers and beginning to see an occasional success upscaled to a big theatre.

Learn more…

Australian Music Publishers Report

The AUSTRALIAN MUSIC PUBLISHERS’ REPORT gives basic information about a successful Australian industry which continues to grow despite digital disruption.

Learn more…

How Folk Music Went from Daggy to Cool

In HOW FOLK MUSIC WENT FROM DAGGY TO COOL, the author traces the evolution of folk music and its changing role from 18C Europe to present-day Australia and the west.

Learn more…


SWOT Analysis of Folk Music

The SWOT ANALYSIS OF FOLK MUSIC looks at a complex situation that arises from its varying roles as participatory music or music for consumption, its array of cultural affiliations and sources and much more. It could be read in conjunction with the previous article.

Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Ethnomusicology

SWOT ANALYSIS: ETHNOMUSICOLOGY defines the discipline, describes its achievements in Australia and a few problems it faces.

Learn more…

February 2018


Click on the title to link to the article.

This is a paper tracing the history from just after Federation, written by Dr John Gardiner-Garden, an officer of the Parliamentary Library and intended to provide factual information for use in further policy development by governments, political parties and citizens. It offers detail from the time of the Whitlam government onwards.


Click on the title to link to the article.

Simon Crean was Commonwealth Minister for the Arts and in 2011, called for SUBMISSIONS TO A NATIONAL CULTURAL POLICY. This submission is a set of proposals for the music sector but also covers important general issues. Such a comprehensive formulation is rare if not unique. Despite much digital disruption, most of the proposal still has relevance. Crean’s policy will be revived if Labor is returned to power in 2018.


Click on the title to link to the article.

SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

This SWOT is preceded by an introduction laying out basics of voice science, pedagogical issues and benefits of singing. A Conclusion includes possible roles for the Australian National Association for Teachers of Singing in addressing threats and weaknesses listed in the SWOT and picking up on some of the opportunities.


Click on the title to link to the article.

In this unique project, the Music in Australia Knowledge Base is commissioning and publishing SWOT analyses of important areas of musical activity in Australia. They are written by leaders in their fields, often the leadership of national industry associations. So far, SWOTS have been published for 27 areas of activity, listed below.

These analyses give bird’s-eye views of the situation for various subsections of the musical world – the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. On the basis of this information and the assessments, it would be possible to build strategies to combat weaknesses and guide future developments.

There are important omissions. For those areas, we have not identified authors able and willing to make the analysis. The entries marked with an asterisk * were written in 2008. All others were written very recently. 

  1. Amateur chamber music
  2. Artist management *
  3. Brass bands *
  4. Chamber music (professional) *
  5. Choral music *
  6. Classical music
  7. Community music
  8. Contemporary music industry
  9. Copyright
  10. Folk music *
  11. Australian research into music education
  12. Jazz in SA *
  13. Music education – vocal music
  14. Music education – school music
  15. Music libraries
  16. Music publishing
  17. Music Teachers Association of Qld
  18. Music therapy *
  19. Musical instrument making *
  20. Musical theatre – Australian musicals
  21. New music *
  22. Opera
  23. Orchestras – capital city youth orchestras
  24. Orchestras – professional
  25. Studio music teaching – national
  26. Studio music teaching – Queensland
  27. Tertiary music education *

Additional SWOT analyses are being prepared for these areas:

  1. Australian Indigenous music
  2. Choral music
  3. Composition – art music
  4. Cultural policy – national
  5. Diverse musics (multicultural)
  6. Ethnomusicology
  7. Folk music
  8. Historically informed performance (early music)
  9. Jazz – national
  10. Music education -preschool
  11. Music education – research

December 2017

This month we are adding five new papers to the Knowledge Base.  Also, below, you will find a summary and progress report on the Music Trust SWOTs project.

Additions to the Music in Australia Knowledge Base for December 2017

Australian Music Demands Bold Action for the 21st Century. In his Peggy Glanville-Hicks address for 2017, Kim Williams observes a flagging commitment to vitality in the arts, especially by government, in a period where we are immersed in technological disruption.  He proposes a new boldness in the support of “ideas that produce great, compelling work”. Learn more…

A Bibliography of Historical Research in Music Education in Australia. This remarkable bibliography comprises all known sources of information relating to the foundation and subsequent development of music education in Australia. Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Historical Research in Music Education in Australia. Details the history and present situation of this research and notes its practical importance, with the record of past success and failures of music education available to guide new initiatives. Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland. Records the valuable role that the MTAQ plays. The main threat to studio teaching is the lack of regulation of standards and public ignorance of their value. Opportunities lie in boosting teacher education and professionalism. Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Copyright. Goes to key issues confronting copyright in a time of digital disruption and sometimes unwise formulations by governments or their agencies. The copyright industry is the third-largest in Australia and its health must be a priority. Learn more…

Summary of the Music Trust SWOT Analyses Project

The Music Trust is commissioning SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses of many sectors of Australia’s musical world. This month, we are pleased to say that we have uploaded SWOTs for: 

  1. Copyright. (Fiona Phillips, CEO, Australian Copyright Council)
  2. Historical research in music education. (Written by Assoc. Prof. Robin S Stevens)
  3. Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland. (Written by its Committee, with Secretary Kerry Thomson)

SWOTs for these areas have already been published:

  1. Chamber music – amateur. (Written by Julian Dresser, Amateur Chamber Music Association)
  2. Classical music. (Written by Dr Richard Letts AM, Director, Music Trust)
  3. Community music development. (Written by Dr Graham Sattler, CEO, Mitchell Conservatorium, Bathurst)
  4. Contemporary music industry. (Written by Patrick Donovan, President, Australian Music Industry Network)
  5. Local government and music. (Written by Scott O’Hara, arts consultant)
  6. Music education in schools. (Written by Antony Hubmayer, President, Australian Society for Music Education)
  7. Music libraries. (Written by Anna Shelmerdine, President, International Association of Music Libraries (Australia))
  8. Music publishing. (Written by Matthew O’Sullivan, CEO, Australasian Music Publishers Association Ltd)
  9. Musical theatre – the Australian musical. (Written by John Senczuk, designer/director/author)
  10. Opera. (Written by Jeffrey Simmons, opera director)
  11. Orchestras – professional. (Written by Kate Lidbetter, CEO, Symphony Services International)
  12. Orchestras – capital cities youth orchestras. (Written by Yarmila Alfonzetti, CEO, Sydney Youth Orchestras and the CEOs of the capital cities youth orchestras)
  13. Studio music teaching – national and NSW. (Written by Dr Rita Crews, Chair, Music Teachers Association of NSW).

In addition, SWOT analyses written in the first iteration of this project, not yet updated and with no-one yet committing to update them, can still Jazzbe found on the Music in Australia website. These are for:

  1. Brass and concert bands
  2. Folk music
  3. Music therapy
  4. Musical instrument making
  5. Tertiary music education

We have future commitments for SWOTs in other areas. At present, these are:

  1. Arts management. (To be written by Leanne de Souza, CEO, Association of Artist Managers)
  2. Australian Indigenous music. (To be written by Jessie Lloyd, creative producer)
  3. Choral music. (To be written by Dr Michael Fulcher, President, Australian National Choral Association)
  4. Cultural policy – national. (To be written by Deborah Mills, consultant)
  5. Diverse musics. (To be written by Peter Mouseferiadis, CEO, Cultural Infusion)
  6. Historically informed practice. (To be written by Prof Neil Peres Da Costa, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and leader, Ironwood ensemble)z.
  7. Jazz. (To be written by Johannes Luebbers and others.)
  8. Music and performing arts venues. (To be written by Elizabeth Lewis, APACA)
  9. Music education in preschools. (To be written by Dr Wendy Brooks, Director, Upper Hunter Conservatorium)
  10. Music education research (Assoc Prof Jane Southcott, President, Australia New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education, and members)
  11. Music education – vocal (Written by Dr Diane Hughes, President, Australian Association for Teachers of Singing, and Board Members)
  12. New music (classical). (To be written by Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Co-Chairs, New Music Network)
  13. Screen music. (To be written by Guy Gross, President, Australian Guild of Screen Composers)
  14. Venue-based live music. (To be written by John Wardle, Director, Live Music Office, APRA)

November 2017

In this edition we announce the publication of a mapping article for Musical Theatre in Australia and three new SWOT analyses: for The Australian Musical – i.e. musicals created and produced in Australia, for Classical Music and for Music Libraries.

Musical Theatre in Australia

MUSICAL THEATRE IN AUSTRALIA is a mapping article that describes the history of the Broadway musical in New York and then in Australia, the musicals written in Australia, the Australian industry, training, and some recent audience data.

Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of the Australian Musical

The SWOT for the Australian musical is about the situation for the creation and production of musicals in Australia. A detailed preamble can be found under the title Musical Theatre in Australia, and there a further introduction at the top of the SWOT. The SWOT gives information and analyses for five categories of Australian musicals, based on scale. It concludes with a summatory SWOT for the entire musical theatre sector.

Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Music Libraries in Australia – 2017

The MUSIC LIBRARIES SWOT describes a situation in which a downgrading of the use of subject area specialists in favour of generalists is affecting library services for music. The increasing use of digitisation is also changing the nature of services and their delivery.

Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Classical Music – 2017

This SWOT attempts to be comprehensive. It covers the circumstances of classical music in school and tertiary education, music composition, classical music performance, recording and classical music’s presence in the media. Each assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in these sections is preceded by a brief factual description.

Learn more…

October 2017

This month we can announce the republication of BAMER and the addition of SWOTs for

  • Community music development

  • Local government and music

  • Music publishing

  • Professional orchestras

  • Youth orchestras

These are followed by a brief description of the SWOT PROJECT


BAMER is the Bibliography of Australian Music Education Research, established in 1989 as a collaborative project between the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) and Associate Professor Robin Stevens (Research Editor of The Australian Journal of Music Education). BAMER is a database of music education research studies undertaken at Australian universities or by Australian music education researchers at overseas institutions. When available, abstracts have been included. Currently, there are over 570 entries of research studies that include not only masters and doctoral theses and dissertations held in university libraries, but also smaller research studies such as research papers and other research reports undertaken for MEd, MMusEd and MMus degrees that are generally held only in departmental libraries or by the individual researchers concerned.


We can now announce the addition of SWOT analyses of:

  • Community music development
  • Local government and music
  • Music publishing
  • Professional orchestras
  • Youth orchestras

Community music development

The SWOT gives a definition of this necessarily complex and diffuse field of activity. It has powerful Strengths including its benefits, diversity and accessibility. It is registered as a Weakness that there is no commonly held concept of identity or purpose. It lacks the governmental support given to “excellent” music organisations such as the professional orchestras but there is opportunity for development and support along a multiplicity of paths.

Written by Graham Sattler, CEO of Mitchell Regional Conservatorium of Music, Bathurst NSW

Local government and music

There are some 550 local or regional governments in Australia. As supporters of culture they tend to be overshadowed by state and national government but are actually quite important. With their close connections to community affairs and needs, they can give flexible support to diverse activities. However, programming and support can lack professional focus and skill. There is potential for development of a more substantial and better targeted role. a

Written by Scott O’Hara, who has had broad experience in managing local government music programs.

Music publishing

Music publishers represent and promote songwriters and their songs. They derive royalty income from recorded music sales, public performances, use of music in TV, films etc, and sheet music, collected through well-organised collecting agencies such as APRA. They depend upon effective copyright law, which has been subject to digital disruption and piracy. The culture of “free” online music has been very costly. There are opportunities in new markets, technologies, business models, more.

Written by Matthew O’Sullivan, GM of the Australian Music Publishers’ Association Ltd (AMPAL)

Professional orchestras (the state concert orchestras)

Australia has full-time professional orchestras in all capital cities except Canberra and Darwin and as well, a number of part time professional orchestras in the largest cities. This SWOT assesses the situation of the six capital city concert orchestras formerly managed by the ABC. It is a very detailed SWOT and cannot be summarised in a small space. The orchestras have strong audience support and high standards. They have difficulties from such things as declining school music education, geography, constrained financial support both public and private. They are taking opportunities for development in e.g. international touring and the benefits it brings for profile and artistic vitality.

Written by Kate Lidbetter, CEO, Symphony Services Australia, with input from the CEOs of the six state concert orchestras.

Youth orchestras (the main capital city youth orchestras)

This SWOT analyses the situation of the Australian capital cities youth orchestras, omitting Darwin.  In these cities, the large population base can sustain large and complex organisations: eg the Sydney Youth Orchestras actually comprises 12 orchestras. The level of accomplishment is high and for some members, the youth orchestras are a valuable pathway towards professional orchestral careers. Their very size can be a problem; how to find a rehearsal venue for 12 orchestras? It is a field in which there is jostling and competition. Where to fit in the hierarchy? Naturally there are funding issues – the state youth orchestras, despite their importance, no longer get federal funding though through their prestige they attract private support.

Written by Yarmila Alfonzetti, CEO of Sydney Youth Orchestras, and the CEOs of the seven capital city youth orchestra organisations.


A SWOT is an analysis, in this case, of various areas of musical activity in Australia, listing their respective Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The SWOT can be a foundation for understanding and for action, identifying key factors in the situation in a field of activity and supporting development of plans that for instance address weaknesses, counter threats and/or take advantage of opportunities.

The Music Trust is inviting leaders in important fields of musical activity in Australia to formulate SWOTs, which it then publishes in the Music in Australia Knowledge Base. 21 SWOTS were published in 2008. Now these are being updated and important gaps filled.

In the last couple of months, SWOTS have been published for these fields:

  • Amateur chamber music performance
  • The music industry
  • Opera
  • School music education
  • Studio music teaching

More will follow.

August 2017

The Music in Australia Knowledge Base is a collection of articles that gives you an enormous amount of information about the situation of music in Australia. It is probably the only website in the world that attempts to describe the musical life of an entire country. There are about 350 articles. You can search them by title, or by category of activity, or by author, all under the BROWSE button or SEARCH.

The Knowledge Base has commissioned a large number of “SWOT analyses” of various sectors of the musical world in Australia. “SWOT” stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and a SWOT analysis gives an overview of the circumstances now and possibilities for the future. People can take stock through a SWOT analysis and figure out where to next.


  • SWOT analysis: school music education nationally

  • SWOT analysis: amateur music making

  • Education, entertainment and a school music festival

  • SWOT analysis of studio music teaching in NSW

SWOT analysis: school music education nationally

This SWOT from the national organisation, the Australian Society for Music Education, assesses the situation of music education in schools. It notes strengths in curriculum and in schools where music education is taught by specialist teachers, weaknesses where music education is not taught by specialists and as a result generally of the low status given to music education and the weight given to competing subjects in literacy, numeracy and STEM. There is an inspiring list of opportunities.

SWOT analysis: amateur music making

This is a SWOT for the Amateur Chamber Music Society rather than amateur chamber music performance more broadly. Nevertheless, some information about the broader situation can be implied. ACMS can be thought of as the national organisation but it is active mainly Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Most activity is organised locally but ACMS believes there is little activity in WA, NT or Tasmania.

Education, entertainment and a school music festival

The author reflects on her experience teaching music to children in a government primary school, preparing them to perform in a regional school festival, and compares their participatory art to the superficial experience of many participants from other schools who “danced” to popular music soundtracks. She applies a broad critique based on pedagogical and social theory.

SWOT analysis of studio music teaching in NSW

This SWOT is for the organisation, the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW. It has a history going back to 1912. MTANSW has several levels of membership linked in part to levels of pedagogical expertise, maintains a Code of Ethics for members, offers professional development workshops and other services. It also administers Accreditation for studio music teachers, a role passed on to it from the Sydney Conservatorium. While this SWOT is for the Association, some statements describe or imply the situation more broadly for studio music teachers in NSW. Of course, the MTA has its problems but also envisions a number of new opportunities.

Find your way to any of these and many other papers at . These four papers are on the home page and you can find everything else via the BROWSE button on the menu bar or via SEARCH.

July 2017

 This month:

  • SWOT Analysis: Opera

  • Expansion of SWOT Analysis Project

  • Infographic: progress on Indigenous education

SWOT Analysis: Opera

The Music in Australia Knowledge Base is pleased to publish the first paper received for its 2017 SWOT Analysis Project: an analysis of the situation of opera in Australia by Jeffrey Simmons.

The opera SWOT can be found here: or in the centre column of the home page,

Australian soprano Nicole Car

Here are a few excerpts to give the flavour.


  • Opera is one of the greatest of all theatrical art forms combining drama, the visual arts and music into a powerful and often deeply emotional theatre experience. Opera is unique in that it has the extraordinary ability to suspend the audience’s disbelief in a way that no other performance art form can.
  • Production values and artistic standards among the major companies are generally very high, a fact that is acknowledged internationally.


  • Recent research showed that the number of Australian singers in leading roles at Opera Australia fell by 51% from 2011-2016, while the number of performances by international singers more than tripled.
  • Most theatres within Australia, whether publicly or privately owned operate on a commercial basis. Opera, with its requirements for dark nights between performances (for the singers to rest their voices), is not conducive to these commercial arrangements. Dark nights mean no ticket revenue (from which venues normally take fees), no merchandise or food and beverage sales (from which venues make significant income and less work for venue staff and less engagement with the public. Most venues would prefer to offer performances every day of the year. An opera company presenting say five performances of a large, mainstage opera will usually require a minimum of three weeks venue rental. This means 16 dark days and only five where income can be generated.


  • International collaborations offer some significant opportunities. No longer solely the domain of Opera Australia, international collaboration is now a reality at State level and offers a chance to invest in production quality with a reduced financial risk, while opening the companies up to the artistic input of other countries.
  • Development of the art form through the creation of new works and reinterpretations of existing classics provides an opportunity to build audiences. New technology can also be used to engage new audiences, alongside co-productions across art form.


  • Levels of funding are currently not keeping pace with rising costs of presentation, thereby restricting growth of the opera industry and forcing companies to lower output, reduce production values and a consequent lowering of artistic standards. On average the costs of presenting opera are increasing by more than the rate inflation each year, with government subsidy usually running well below inflation.
  • Reduction in the number of new generation singers due to a lack of training facilities and professional development opportunities. Lack of opportunities for new generation directors and designers to work in opera due to the lack of new opera productions being commissioned and artistic control vested with the national company.

About the Music in Australia Knowledge Base: SWOT Analysis Project

In 2008, the Music in Australia Knowledge Base commissioned SWOT analyses for 20 different areas of musical activity.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis can be applied to an organisation or an area of activity such as choral music, the music industry, music education, indigenous music. The analysis gives an overview. It can be used for forward planning – countering weaknesses and threats, building on opportunities.

Nine years on from that initial set of SWOTs, it’s time to update and to fill gaps. At this point, The Music Trust has commitments from 32 people or organisations to prepare SWOTs, and there are more to come. These are the commitments to date.


  1. Artist management. Leanne de Souza, CEO, Association of Artist Managers, and members
  2. Australian Indigenous Music. Traditional and contemporary. Jessie Lloyd, Songlines.
  3. Chamber music performance. Kathryn Selby, musician, entrepreneur
  4. Chamber music, amateur. Julian Dresser, Amateur Chamber Music Association
  5. Chamber music (Musica Viva). Mary-Jo Capps, CEO. August.
  6. Choral music. Michael Fulcher, President, ANCA
  7. Classical music. Richard Letts, Director, The Music Trust
  8. Community music development. Graham Sattler, CEO, Mitchell Conservatorium. July
  9. Composition – art music. John Davis, CEO, Australian Music Centre
  10. Contemporary music industry. Patrick Donovan, President, AMIN
  11. Cultural policy, national. Deborah Mills
  12. Diverse musics. Peter Mousaferiadis, CEO, Cultural Infusion, and team. July
  13. Historically informed performance. Neal Peres da Costs. Professor of Historical Performance, Sydney Conservatorium. October?
  14. Jazz in SA. Sylvan Elhay, musician
  15. Music and performing arts venues. Australian Performing Arts Centres Association. Around November.
  16. Music education in preschools. Aleksandra Acker, RMIT. October?
  17. Music education in schools. Bradley Merrick, President, Australian Society for Music Education
  18. Music education – research. Jane Southcott and the Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Educati0n. November.
  19. Music education – vocal. Diane Hughes, President, Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing
  20. Music libraries. Anna Shelmerdine, President, International Association of Music Libraries (Australia)
  21. Music publishing. Matthew O’Sullivan, CEO, Australian Music Publishers Association
  22. Music therapy. Bridgit Hogan, EO, Australian Music Therapy Association. August?
  23. Musical instrument making. Mike Lee, Secretary, Association of Musical Instrument Makers
  24. Musical theatre. John Senczuk, designer/director
  25. New music. Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Co-Chairs, New Music Network
  26. Jeffrey Simmons. Received.
  27. Orchestras – professional. Kate Lidbetter, CEO, Symphony Services International
  28. Orchestras – youth. Yarmila Alfonzetti, Sydney Youth Orchestra and the leaders of the major Australian youth orchestras
  29. Screen music. Guy Gross, President, Australian Guild of Screen Composers. August
  30. Studio music teaching – national. Rita Crews, Chair, Music Teachers Association NSW
  31. Studio music teaching – Queensland. Kerry Thomson, Secretary, Music Teachers Association Queensland
  32. Venue-based live music. John Wardle, Director, Australasian Performing Right Association Live Music Office

Infographic: progress on Indigenous education

This is a marvellous summary in graphic form of the situation with the education of Australian Indigenous children. It was prepared by staff of The Conversation.

The infographic shows progress for all stages from preschool to tertiary education. There is some very good news and some not so good. The study does not include music education but gives us general context.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • The number of Indigenous school students increased by 46.7% over the last 10 years, compared with an overall 12% increase in the number of Australian school students. That’s a basis for some good catch-up.
  • It appears that up to 80% of Indigenous students have significant hearing loss. That would do to their general competence, let alone their learning?
  • 93% of Indigenous children are enrolled in pre-school, compared to 96% of non-Indigenous, but their actual attendance rate can be much lower – an average 68%.
  • Achievement of Indigenous primary school students is relatively close to that of non-Indigenous students in metro areas but much lower in remote areas. Is that true also of non-Indigenous kids? How can you get an effective education in a small, remote settlement?
  • At secondary level, Indigenous students score significantly below the international benchmarks in maths and science and much lower than non-Indigenous students and there has been no improvement over the last decade.
  • The percentage of Indigenous students participating in VET was over twice the percentage for non-Indigenous, but at lower qualification levels – Certificate I and II and non-award courses. Have to encourage them to stick with it.
  • The total number of Indigenous students enrolled at university almost doubled from 2006 to 2015. Of those who graduate, ¾ have full-time employment after four months. Very good news and it’s beginning to show in their own communities and the community at large.

The study does not comment on the effects of the provision of music education on Indigenous students. There are andecdotal reports of the positive effects on school attendance. We will explore whether there have been any surveys assessing other outcomes.

To see the full graphic presentation, go to the Knowledge Base here:

Authors: Claire Shaw, Education Editor; Jamal Ben Haddou, Editorial intern; Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

June 2017

Do you know about SWOTs? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a way of figuring out the circumstances and prospects for any sort of activity but is usually used by organisations because, well, they are organised. And they might be ambitious, or worried and want to find solutions.

The Music in Australia Knowledge Base in 2008 published SWOTs for 20 different parts of the musical world. Among them is, for instance, contemporary music, with a detailed analysis. Here are some examples from that SWOT, which includes about 80 observations:

  • A strength: Multiplicity and fusion of genres in Australia create a particular identity in the international market place.
  • A weakness: Industry is highly fragmented with poor communication between sectors.
  • An opportunity: Digital sales have grown exponentially (could be threat depending on legal or illegal use of IP).
  • A threat: Process of recording and distributing music is changing rapidly. [But as the SWOT notes, this could also be an opportunity – and it did indeed cause major disruption but also some positive changes.]

So the SWOT writer stood back and took a steady look at this whole sector and its situation and wrote a multi-dimensional picture.

What could follow? The people in the sector could get together and figure out how to take advantage of strengths, remedy weaknesses, protect against the threats and take advantage of the opportunities. The rest of us could look and learn.

There is great potential value for the various sectors in undertaking these analyses. How often do we take a broad look at our situation, figure out what is happening and the ways forward. So just writing the SWOTs can set important developments in train.

Publishing them can instruct the rest of us. They can give us a sense of how our musical world works, insights that we can apply to our own situations, identify possible collaborators or allies or indeed, threats, suggest opportunities…

You can find the existing SWOTS at

Updates and gaps

The existing SWOTs were written in 2008 and obviously, it is in their nature that they go out of date. The Music Trust is inviting authors to write updates.

There are many more than 20 segments of the musical world and so we are also setting out to fill the gaps, inviting expert people to send their observations. We would like to acknowledge these people for taking on the task already in the first weeks of the initiative.

  1. Artist management. Leanne da Souza, CEO, Association of Artist Managers
  2. Chamber music (amateur). Julian Dresser, Amateur Chamber Music Society
  3. Choral music. Michael Fulcher, President, Australian National Choral Association
  4. Classical music. Richard Letts, Director, The Music Trust, Past President, International Music Council
  5. Community music development. Graham Sattler, Executive Director, Mitchell Conservatorium of Music, member representative, Association of NSW Regional Conservatoriums
  6. Historically informed practice. Neal Peres da Costa. Professor of Historical Performance, Program Leader of Postgraduate Research, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Member, Ironwood ensemble.
  7. Jazz in SA. Sylvan ‘Schmoe’ Elhay, musician, Jazz Coordination Office, SA
  8. Musical instrument making. Mike Lee, Secretary, Australian Association of Musical Instrument Makers
  9. Musical theatre. John Senczuk, theatre designer/director, author
  10. Music composition. John Davis, CEO, Australian Music Centre
  11. Music industry. Patrick Donovan, President, Australian Music Industry Network, CEO, Music Victoria
  12. Music libraries. Anna Shelmderdine, President, International Association of Music Libraries (Australia)
  13. Music publishing. Matthew O’Sullivan, General Manager, Australian Music Publishers’ Association Ltd
  14. Music therapy. Bridgit Hogan, CEO, Australian Music Therapy Association
  15. National cultural policy. Deborah Mills
  16. New art music performance. Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Co-Chairs, New Music Network
  17. Opera. James Boniface
  18. Orchestras: the six large concert orchestras. Kate Lidbetter, CEO, Symphony Service Australia
  19. School music education. Bradley Merrick, President, Australian Society for Music Education
  20. Studio music teaching, national. Rita Crews, President, Music Teachers Association of NSW
  21. Studio music teaching, Qld. Elissa Perkins, President, Music Teachers Association of Queensland
  22. Venue-based live music. John Wardle, Live Music Office

There will be more. We will announce publication of SWOT papers as they occur.

Existing SWOTs which can be read on site and for which so far there is no contributor to undertake updating, are for the fields of

  • Brass and concert bands
  • Chamber music
  • Folk music
  • Tertiary music education
  • Vocal music education

Attendances at musical venues and events

This is a summary by Danielle Ranshaw of the attendances in the various performing arts, as discovered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its quadrennial Multi-Purpose Household Survey, with additional data from Live Performance Australia’s annual report on actual ticket sales. You can see how the various art forms stack up, audience and box office trends, and the respective levels of activity in the states and territories. (The Northern Territory does very well!)

Popular music attracts by far the largest audience (33% of the population aged 15+), twice that of theatre or musicals+opera or other performing art forms, and more than three times the audiences for dance or classical music. There is much more information to be found in the article.

View the full article on the Knowledge Base.

Redesigning the Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base will be reorganised so that it is more inviting and it’s easier to find stuff.

Information will be organised into six ‘domains’:


  1. Music, People, Society
  2. Inside Music
  3. Infrastructure
  4. Industry and Media
  5. Government
  6. International

Then each domain has subdomains. For instance:

Industry and Media

  • Industry and Media Mapping
  • Copyright
  • Live Performance
  • Publishing
  • Recording and Audio Production
  • Broadcast Media
  • Online Media
  • Screen Music
  • Other Uses of Music (piped music, advertising, games, ring tones etc)
  • Instruments, Equipment, Software
  • Employment and Participation
  • Industrial Issues for Music Workers

‘Roots of the Tree’

Articles can be members of one or more subdomains. They will also be classified

Into one or more of these categories, probably shown graphically as the roots of the Tree of Knowledge.

  1. Mapping papers
  2. Statistics papers
  3. SWOTs
  4. Issues papers
  5. Research papers.

So if you want to find factual information about the existence, location, size, repertoire etc of orchestras in Australia, you would look for a mapping paper in the ‘Orchestras’ subdomain of ‘Inside the Music’ domain. If you wanted to know the arguments about the orchestras’ situation, you would look for an Issues paper in the Orchestras subdomain. And so on.

You will know all this is in place when there is a new, more inviting ‘tree of knowledge’ on the home page and it becomes much easier to get where you want to go.

But it’s in any case perfectly serviceable right now. You can find you way around by going to BROWSE on the menu bar and then choosing how you want to search. The ‘roots’ can be found on the menu bar under THEMES.

How this is happening: energy from a new Editorial Board

Music in Australia has an Editorial Board, for the first time. The Board is looking comprehensively at the site after its first ten years of operation. It inherits a wonderfully rich resource, created under the editorship of Hans Hoegh-Guldberg who, as you may know, passed away last year.

Board members are Dr Richard Letts AM, Director of The Music Trust; Dr Graham Sattler, Director of the Mitchell Conservatorium, Vice-President of the Association of NSW Regional Conservatoriums; Mandy Stefanakis, ; Assoc Prof Robin Stevens, former head of music education at Deakin University, former President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education, former Editor of the Bibliography of Australian Music Education Research.

The Board intends to expand its membership and your interest is invited.

May 2017

There is an advocacy initiative in NSW which will seek to train and place specialist primary school music teachers in public primary schools.

Their placement probably will depend upon school principals taking a decision to hire a music specialist. So they might need to be persuaded that such a decision is the best choice they could make among the alternatives.

Who would be the best to persuade them? Other principals who have already made that decision. The Music Trust already did a survey of principals of schools reputed to have good music programs.

Here is a set of quotes from their testimonies about the outcomes for their students and their schools of establishing a successful music program. It comes from the survey report on the Music in Australia Knowledge Base and you can find it at

There were 19 respondents. The principals answered questions about changes in their school caused by introduction of a music program; changes in students’ co-operativeness; the re-engagement or ‘rescue’ of some students by the music program; changes in classroom behaviour; changes in school spirit and morale; changes in school reputation; other effects.

Here is an example, the responses to question 20.

  1. Well-being. Please comment on any improvements in self-confidence, well-being of students that may be attributable to the music program

All 19 responded. The text in italics shows individual principals’ own words.

Many studies and informal reports remark upon the growth of self-confidence through musical performance activities.

  • Sense of belonging and success, and opportunities for personal and social regulation.
  • Many of the students involved in the student representative council were also involved in the music program. These students seemed to develop a new confidence in their role and started to see our high school as the equal of others in the area instead of seeing it as disadvantaged and second class. • High level of confidence through the Musicals and performance groups. Students are encouraged to use the microphone from Prep and given opportunities to perform at assemblies.
  • Have noticed development of self-confidence and calming effects of music
  • Our students are confident leaders. Music contributes to confidence
  • There is a music family. It is a place to be amongst similarly minded students but is also a safety haven and friendships
  • The fact that Music students and their staff build strong and trusting relationships, contributes to student well-being in a positive way, particularly when performing arts events are being rehearsed. The bonds that form for instance, when preparing for the College Musical, are outstanding and long-lasting. Our students have the opportunity to build their self-confidence when performing for Chapel, college and community events.

As to the first point, music builds relationships which contribute to well-being; it is a sequence.

There is an assumption here that performance builds self-confidence – and it seems to be confirmed by the evidence, but one would think that performance could as easily breed anxiety.

  • Working in ensembles/small groups increases self confidence – student leaders involved in the program are role models for the student population – small group work with specialist teachers allows for strong rapport with students which can lead to important mentoring with at risk or difficult students.
  • Confronting any fears about performing in public are dealt with effectively in a music performance so there are benefits to studying music and performing in a group in terms of confidence and character development. This has knock-on effects for later life and in other fields/domains as a student.
  • Many students feel most comfortable when performing or listening to music. The sense of belonging engendered by being a part of a choir or orchestra, and the feeling of elation following successful performances is huge boon to the self esteem and confidence of many individuals.
  • The students in our music program have a real sense of belonging to the group and are motivated to perform at the highest level and to be challenged musically, socially, emotionally and intellectually.

My perception is that our music students are well balanced students who enjoy being at school. Their engagement in performance opportunities and community service opportunities ensures a well-rounded and successful start to their education. The vast majority of these students become successful professionals after tertiary studies. The school has had a Beazley medallist (the top ATAR student in WA) in each of the past three decades resulting from its music program.

  • The music program creates a great deal of well-being for our students. They have fun, have a sense of belonging, work together as a team and support and look after each other.

February 2017

The Role of the Creative Industries in Climate Change Action

is a study by Associate Professor Andrew Rimmer, assisted by Tim Hollo among others, of the advocacy role of the arts. It examines the relationships between culture, art and the environment, the roles artists can play, and the risks surrounding the messenger, the message and the process.

The study will guide The Music Trust’s strategies to engage musicians with climate change. Readers may also find the study illuminating.

Report of the National Opera Review

Dick Letts responded in great detail to the invitation to make a submission to the National Opera Review. That submission can be found on the Music Trust website, that also hosts Loudmouth.

Then the Review, after great delay, published its report and Dick dutifully responded to that. You can read the responses to the report at

December 2016

One important addition to the Music in Australia Knowledge Base this month is an article by Julianne Schultz. It begins as follows.

Trump’s win shows how vital the arts and humanities are

Julianne Schultz

As one of the commentators in the New York Times wrote yesterday in relation to the way the polls had missed the sentiment of the American people, notwithstanding that Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote, “data cannot capture the human condition that is the blood of American politics”.

There is an interesting post-election meme floating around on social media – it is a pithy aphorism by Toni Morrison:

‘This is precisely the time when artists go to work, there is no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, no room for fear, we speak, we write, we do language, that is how civilisations heal.’

We are living in extraordinary times, times in which we need the humanities and their ability to bring insight into the human condition, to ask and take the time to tease out the answers to critical questions, to dig into the past to help make sense of the future, to develop and test ethical frameworks for dilemmas that were once unimaginable, to explore empathy, to draw on the insights from the incremental new understanding thanks to genetic and neuroscience of just how infinite nature, as Spinoza famously remarked, can be…


November 2016

In 2011, the then Labor government conducted an inquiry into the “base funding” of tertiary education – i.e. the basic funding of education from government and students, which varied depending upon discipline. This was of great interest to music because since the conservatoria had been absorbed into the universities around 1990, base funding to music had not sufficed to pay for courses of acceptable standard. In the circumstances, the host universities cross-subsidised music, which is to say they took money from other disciplines and transferred it to music. This seems like a generous arrangement but the universities then applied continuing pressure on the music schools to reduce their ‘deficit”, which they could do only by curtailing their programs. There had been a prolonged deterioration of program offerings and standards.

The inquiry offered an opportunity to make the case for increased base funding for music and the arts, rescuing them from deficits and the universities from the need to cross-subsidise.

Richard Letts, assisted by others in the tertiary sector, made two submissions on behalf of the Music Council of Australia. The first concerned support to the university music schools in the task of educating students for the music profession. The second, supplementary submission, concerned support mainly to university schools of education, but also to some schools of music, for the music education of teachers. These two submissions have been added to the Knowledge Base.

Of course, they are at this time five years old. However, since the Labor government simply walked away from the inquiry and took no action, the situation described in the submissions has not much changed and they still offer a wealth of relevant information and insight into the circumstances of tertiary music education.

The government Review did report. It found, among other things, that “studio-based” creative arts courses are underfunded, but inexplicably failed to recommend any remedy, although funding increases were recommended for non-arts courses in the same circumstances. The third paper added to the Knowledge Base describes the report and gives our response at the time.

Subsequently, when the Coalition came to power, it further reduced funding to tertiary education in music and the arts.


In this submission, the Music Council of Australia would like to highlight some of the issues that affect quality, equity and international competiveness in higher music education, and present a cogent argument for a more appropriate band of funding.

While music may not seem to be a key economic driver of any country, it is part of the cement of cultural identity and social cohesion. It is difficult to find examples of successful societies –past or present– that did not have a flourishing cultural life. Moreover, music in all its aspects (from concerts to film scores, from computer game music to ringtones) actually does represent a significant dollar amount. Economist Hans Hoegh-Guldberg estimated the total turnover of music in Australia at $6.8 billion in 2007 (well over $7 billion in 2011 figures), or 0.7% of GDP.

Training for the various musical professions is labour and resource intensive. At the heart of quality musicians almost everywhere in the world is a substantial amount of one-to-one teaching. In order to be successful, musicians need to develop individual skills and identity. In over 200 years of conservatorium training (and going back to thousands of years of master-apprentice models), we have not yet found a viable alternative to working closely with a highly skilled senior musician, who can nurture young people to live up to their potential through a combination of discipline and creativity. In addition to dedicated teaching spaces with appropriate acoustic properties and soundproofing, this training requires infrastructure for ensemble rehearsals, performances, and master classes, as well as high quality instruments (a Steinway concert grand piano costs a quarter of a million dollars) and amplification and recording equipment.

This combination of high staff-to-student ratios and high demands on infrastructure place tertiary music teaching more on an equal footing with dentistry and medicine than with languages, allied health or even other art forms, with which it currently shares its funding base. The similarities between music and dentistry students are surely more compelling than those between music and language students. In both music and dentistry, a long process of training –individually or in small groups– in dedicated rooms with expensive equipment (whether a Steinway of a dentist’s chair) leads to individuals being trained to their specific strengths to serve the community. In languages, much more generic training in much larger groups suffices.

Research commissioned by the Music Council of Australia in collaboration with peak body NACTMUS and several major universities has revealed that 80% of the 4,500 students currently enrolled in music degrees are in ‘high teaching intensity’ courses (with the remaining 20 % divided over the less intensive musicology, music education, and combined degrees). It is surprising, therefore, that tertiary music education has been funded at the level of languages (band 5) rather than that of dentistry (band 8). As the past two decades have proven, it is also unworkable, inequitable, and a danger to Australia’s competitiveness in this field.

As the budget models of Australian universities have become more transparent (income plus HECS for each student minus university overheads = available funds for tuition), all large conservatoires report major annual shortfalls, in spite of having limited one-to-one teaching to well below international standards (around 24 hours p/a versus 40 hours p/a elsewhere). Typical staff workloads increasingly show 60 percent teaching, 20 percent research and 20% service as opposed to the 40/40/20 model current in the rest of the university. This in turn impacts research activity and outputs, the justifiably celebrated teaching-research nexus, and the wellbeing of staff. This stifles quality and innovation.

The shortfalls are either accumulated as debt at the School level, cross-subsidised from other elements within a Faculty, or redeemed once every few years by a benign Vice-Chancellor. While this shows admirable commitment and acknowledgement of the importance of music, it is hardly a mechanism for sustained high-quality learning and teaching. Therefore, the Music Council of Australia passionately pleads for a rebanding of tertiary music teaching in line with its actual costs of delivery and international best practice. The following pages provide extensive background and data to justify such action to the benefit of music students in Australia, academics working in this field, universities, and all those benefitting from music in Australian society at large.


These were the authors in their positions at the time:

  • Submission formulated by Dr Richard Letts AM, Executive Director, Music Council of Australia, with
  • Associate Professor Diana Blom, Head of Program (Music), School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney
  • Associate Professor Carl Crossin OAM, Director, Elder Conservatorium of Music, University of Adelaide
  • Professor Gary McPherson, Ormond Chair of Music and Director, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne
  • Professors Huib Schippers, Director, Queensland Conservatorium and Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University
  • Professor Kim Walker, Dean and Principal, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney

Find the submission on the Knowledge Base under these CATEGORIES

  • Government policies and interventions
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Submissions to government

This supplementary submission takes up issues around the music education of school teachers, especially primary school generalist classroom teachers, conducted under the auspices of university schools of education.

Music education is only one component of the broad responsibilities of the schools of education, but it is one responsibility that generally speaking, they do not meet. Their graduates, if they have received only the mandated education in music and have no musical expertise acquired elsewhere, cannot be competent to deliver the music curriculum even though the state education systems require them to do so.

If students entering university have depended for their early music education on that provided in public or Catholic primary schools, they are at a severe disadvantage because, excepting in Queensland and Tasmania where specialist music teachers are provided in primary schools, it is very likely that either they have had no music education or their music education has been delivered by a classroom teacher lacking musical competence – a teacher trained in an Australian school of education.


Submission formulated by

  • Dr Richard Letts AM, Executive Director, Music Council of Australia, and
  • Professor Gary McPherson, Ormond Chair of Music and Director, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne

Find the submission on the Knowledge Base under these CATEGORIES

  • Government policies and interventions
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Submissions to government

December 29, 2011

The report sets forth 13 “Enduring Principles” as the basis of its recommendations. These are the principles of most importance to music in its circumstances.

Principle 2

The total quantum of base funding should support universities in the delivery of globally competitive teaching and learning in appropriately resourced facilities by adequately funding the direct and indirect costs of teaching, scholarship and base capability in research.

Principle 7

The base funding model should reflect the relative costs for different disciplines or modes of teaching.

Principle 9

The Government should pursue targeted policy objectives through specific programs outside of base funding where the provision of supplementary funding is linked to transparent performance measures.

Principle 10

Base funding should enable institutions to pursue innovative methods of teaching and learning.

Principle 11

Base funding should be sourced from a balance of student and public contributions broadly consistent with the private and public benefits from higher education.

Principle 13

The base funding model should be accompanied by appropriate measures so that student contributions are not a financial barrier to participation in higher education.

It acknowledges that so far as provision for music is concerned, the crucial Principles 2 and 7 are not manifest but it does not see through to conclusion the recommendations needed to remedy the situation. Essentially, the situation remains unchanged in 2016.


Dr Richard Letts AM, Executive Director, Music Council of Australia

YOUR COMMENT IS INVITED. Please indicate if you do not wish it to be published. Send to



October 2016

These three catch-up articles are being added to the Knowledge Base. You can access them on the home page, centre column:

Music education – transformational change in Victoria

Catherine Lyons, Chair of the School Music Action Group (sMAG), wrote at the beginning of 2016 about transformational change in education – including music education – in Victoria.  The recommendations out of the Victorian Inquiry into the Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education 2013, under the Napthine leadership, commenced a process that has been built upon by the incoming Labor government. That in itself is encouraging. The new government did not assume that the Inquiry was tainted simply because it had been originated by its competitor for office.

LM1610 KB vic ed

Government action has been consultative and sMAG in 2015 was able to make submissions on behalf of the Victorian Music Education community to:

  • The VET funding review
  • The Victorian Institute of Teaching Permission To Teach Review
  • The Education State discussion panels
  • The Bracks Schools Funding Review
  • The Early Years consultation process
  • The Program for Students with Disabilities Review

In 2016, there has been a deeper analysis of Instrumental Music Programs, and some relevant Federal reports. This article gives a broad summary.

REPORT FROM INQUIRY: Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts

The inquiry was established by Labor and Greens senators to look into the effects of then Arts Minister George Brandis’s removal of $105m of funds from the Australia Council to his Ministry where he would have direct control over their use, and other Commonwealth arts funding decisions. Brandis instructed the Australia Council that its funding to major performing arts organisations must be maintained at its current level and so the entire impact of the loss of funds fell upon individual artists and small to medium organisations.

As is usual for such inquiries, submissions were invited and public hearings were held around the country. There were a remarkable 2,700 written submissions, most from a usually politically docile or fractured arts community. Opposition committee members commented upon an extraordinary level of unanimity among its witnesses, both in their opposition to the Minister’s actions and their support for the Australia Council. A number of members said that they had never seen such strong support for a government agency.

The inquiry committee has now published its report, including 13 recommendations. Government members of the committee, who were in the minority, have published a minority report which agrees with only four of the recommendations.

Very late in the progress of the inquiry, Senator Mitch Fifield, newly appointed as Arts Minister, decided to return $32m of the $105m to the Australia Council. He assigned $12m to what Brandis had called the National Program for Excellence in the Arts and renamed it Catalyst, with a brief to support innovation. (We have good reason to believe that this may have been on the recommendation of the Music Trust, though we wanted all the money returned to the Australia Council.)

This article lists the recommendations of the Committee and also the minority report.

The inquiry report is here:

Research: El Sistema-inspired music programs dramatically change disadvantaged children’s lives

A ground breaking study at two Victorian low socio-economic schools has shown that music lessons dramatically improved the scholastic and personal wellbeing of disadvantaged children

The studies were inspired by the El Sistema approach, which helps disadvantaged children to reach their full potential through the power of music. Recently published in Music Education Research Journal by an Australian multi-university research team, the study showed that, “exposure to formal instrument-based music learning opportunities can provide educational and numerous personal and social benefits, through improved problem solving skills, academic achievement in language and maths, self-esteem, self-regulated behaviour and social responsibility, and is particularly beneficial for students at-risk of social and educational disadvantage”.

The two participating schools had students experiencing generational poverty, current or first-generation immigrant or refugee status and were running El-Sistema inspired music programs. The research sought to understand the potential for positive non-musical outcomes for economically and socially disadvantaged primary school students who are involved in instrumental music learning programs.

School 1 Music Program (MP) was a partnership with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. All children in the program received two years of group instrumental lessons on violin, viola or cello in small groups of 2–5 students. Due to the small number, double bass students were taught individually for 30 minutes. Lessons were scheduled once per week, varying from 30 minutes for Year 3 students to 45 minutes for Year 4–6 students.

School 2 MP was more closely based on the ‘traditional’ Venezuelan El Sistema program and was originally administered by the school in partnership with Sistema Australia. Students participated in 6 hours of music tuition a week on three days after school. The overall approach to the curriculum was a flexible one, changing on a weekly basis depending on the attendance of students.

This (music) program has high value for our school. The benefits for the children are huge, and the transformations are unbelievable! – School 1 Principal J. Cooke

The article goes on to discuss the academic outcomes as tested after one year of participation.

100% of parents reported that kids were happier, 94% were more hopeful and positive about schoolwork and the future, and 80% reported better and more respectful behaviour at home than before the music program. – School 2 Deputy Principal P. Lishman

Full paper available here:

The paper finishes with the report’s summary of key aspects of the El Sistema approach.



September 2016

The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly: Music and Wellbeing

Written by: Mandy Stefanakis

Those of us who love music spend a lot of time advocating for its benefits, particularly benefits to our bodies and our minds. We advocate for music in education partially on this basis. Music is used in a myriad of therapeutic settings to successfully foster the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of people.

But there’s a dark side to the application of anything with the kind of potency music possesses. It’s not always the music that is used in negative ways, but often those in its forceful embrace can find themselves struggling with the cultural, environmental and economic restrictions that seem to be a part of this choice.

The Knowledge Base paper discusses the good, the bad and the downright ugly aspects of different forms of engagement with music.  Ultimately, music is inherently about wellbeing, but for those who share a large chunk of their lives with music, this is not always the outcome for a range of reasons explored here.

This is a new paper by Mandy Stefanakis. Read it here:,_the_Bad_and_the_Downright_Ugly:_Music_and_Wellbeing


Trends in classical music attendances

Written by: Chris Bowen

There was a thirteen percent drop in Australian classical music attendances in 2014. Revenues fell from $70 to $65 million and attendances dropped by 13.2 per cent. These attendances were mainly at performances of the professional orchestras and national chamber music companies. Annual attendances are volatile but are relatively stable over the past decade.

There are now separate figures for small and regional companies and we have data for about 200 performances.

Music Australia reports Live Performance Australia figures showing a 12 percent increase in opera attendances in 2014. [ED: However, analysis of a discussion paper issued by the National Opera Review shows that the increase comes from OA’s music theatre activities, not mainstage opera. See next paper.]

Internationally it is increasingly clear classical audiences are declining, ageing and not being replaced.  Evidence is cited from the USA and Europe. However, against the predominant signs of decline there are also some showing growth, including in Australia.

Writes author Chris Bowen: ‘It is clear the inventiveness and resilience of Australia’s major companies, their loyal audiences and a solid operating environment, has to date shielded us from some of the international declines. Audiences achieved here can be viewed as a good result, given the huge technological and cultural shifts that engulf us. But there may well be early warning signs here we could be wise to heed. We explore some of these in our Classical Reflections article here.’

Read the article here:

This article was first published in the Music Australia Fortnightly Roundup, February 3, 2016. Author Chris Bowen is the CEO of Music Australia.


Opera is history. It needs to be now.

Written by: Richard Letts

The decline in opera audiences is severe, long term and potentially disastrous.

The audience for mainstage opera halved for four major Australian opera companies from 2009 to 2013 – Opera Australia and the state operas of WA, SA and Qld. In the USA the opera audience dropped by one third from 2002 to 2012.

Why is this?

Rising soprano Nicole Car

Rising soprano Nicole Car

The basic reason is that for all its magnificence as an art form, opera is no longer seen as an art of our time. The operas presented by Opera Australia especially were mostly written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

It’s not our world and young people, especially, are apparently not interested.

We need to care about that.

Former Arts Minister George Brandis set up a National Opera Review. It should have reported a long time ago but in the uproar over Brandis’s arts funding actions, didn’t. But it did issue an informative discussion paper and invited submissions.

The Music Trust made a submission that proposed a more equitable distribution of Commonwealth funding among the major opera companies and a number of actions that could change perceptions about opera. Read a summary on the Knowledge Base here: and go on, if you wish, to read the entire paper at


A Creative Industries Strategy for Victoria

Written by: Victorian government with comments by Richard Letts

The Daniel Andrews government has received a 40-page interim report from a “Taskforce” it set up in April charged with consulting with the “creative industries” (formerly known as “the arts”) to help develop Victoria’s first creative industries strategy, scheduled for announcement in late 2016. The taskforce, headed by the ubiquitous Louise Adler, took into account many contributions from workshops and a dedicated website.

There is a definition of creative industries that says, not unsurprisingly, that they are about utilisation of creative activity including the arts to make a profit. The interim report seems to take a broader view but those who see the purpose of the arts as emotional or aesthetic or spiritual may need to stay alert and possibly alarmed.

The report makes a number of findings, followed by these recommendation:

“Fellowships to enable creative practitioners to sustain and advance their careers at key points.

“A Commissioning Fund to generate landmark Victorian creative works.

“Increasing professional placements, on-the-job-training and secondment opportunities.

“Accelerator programs for creative and cultural entrepreneurs.

Martin Foley

Martin Foley

Co-working spaces and hubs that activate under-utilised spaces for creative use.

“Funding to enable Victorian talent to gain international exposure and build global networks.

The Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said he will establish and chair a Creative Industries Council, as recommended in the report, to oversee the implementation of the government’s strategy. Read more on the Knowledge Base at


August 2016

CALL FOR ENTRIES. The lists of Australian classical musicians successful abroad

Among the most popular items in the Knowledge Base is a list of Australian musicians who have had notable success abroad. The Editors had a thought bubble: it would be good to have such a list and it probably would be about 50 long. Well, the list at this point stands at 350.

It is time to update it.

It is comprised of classical music performers and managers only:

  • Instrumentalists who are soloists, ensemble leaders, or section leaders in orchestras
  • Professional conductors
  • Singers who take principal roles in professional opera companies or are soloists in eg oratorios or leaders of ensembles
  • Directors, stage directors of opera companies
  • High level managers of music performing organisations

It does NOT include music academics per se or non-classical musicians.

In addition to the main list, there are two others, one for very well-known deceased musicians (household names), the other for those at the beginning of their careers who have had some significant appointments but have not yet had time to build a long CV.

Musicians may be living abroad or living in Australia and touring abroad.


The Knowledge Base invites entries

To add a new person to a list, or

To move a person listed in the early career list to the main list, or

To add important information to an existing listing.

Please send your submissions to Richard Letts:



Editor, Music in Australia Knowledge Base

Technical Assistant, Music in Australia Knowledge Base

These are volunteer positions.

The Knowledge Base was established in 2008 by Hans Hoegh-Guldberg and Richard Letts. Hans served as Editor until his accidental death a few months ago. We seek a new editor.

The entire operation of the Knowledge Base is undertaken by volunteers but agreed out of pocket costs are covered by The Music Trust.

The Knowledge Base has the objective of serving as a comprehensive description of the situation of music in Australia. To our knowledge, it is the only website attempting to depict the musical life of an entire country. It also includes some relevant international information.

The articles are ‘mapping’ articles, offering factual information in narratives or numbers about various components of the Australian musical world, and ‘issues’ articles, describing problems and possibilities confronting music in Australia. They are contributed by expert volunteers who mostly are approached to write on specific matters.

There is a partnership with Loudmouth, which provided monthly updates to its readership on additional items on the Knowledge Base and can include summary articles on Knowledge Base papers, thus attracting readers.

The Knowledge Base currently attracts about 5,000 visits a month, one third of them from overseas. The traffic year to year increases substantially.

The Editor

prepares submitted items for publication and publishes them appropriately within the structural framework of the Knowledge Base. The Editor may also choose to write for the Knowledge Base. The Editor may propose revisions or new developments. The Editor may invite contributions. The Editor will be assisted in securing content and in general development matters by the Director, Richard Letts.

Time commitment. It is difficult to be definitive. We would say that the Editor would need to commit at least one day per week. Editor Hans worked virtually full time although a substantial part of this time was spent in writing. The time commitment could be discussed.

The Technical Assistant

loads new material onto the Knowledge Base under the guidance of the Editor, and may propose and carry out technical improvements.

Time commitment. Probably, usually, an hour or two a week, unless undertaking a developmental project. There has not previously been a Technical Assistant, so there is room for exploration.


July 2016

The Music in Australia Knowledge Base ( contains over 300 articles describing the music sector in Australia and also gives some information about related musical activity overseas.

It is a great source of information that cuts more deeply than the short articles given in Loudmouth and other periodical publications. It therefore is useful in considering some of the current issues and events covered in Loudmouth.

Music education statistics  This is a 2012 summary of the available statistics for music education in both the school and university sectors. It also includes some information about community music activity.


School music education

There are 55 articles in this section covering a great range off issues such as the situation of teachers, pre-service music instruction for classroom teacher, advocacy, the educational paths of successful classical and contemporary musicians, music and early language acquisition, the benefits of music for the brain, teaching strategies to reduce noise exposure and much more. Each title on this page is linked to its article.

Please note that there is useful information about, for instance, music education research, on the Music Trust website under the Education button. Go to


Government support

There are 22 articles in this section. Included is ‘Public Funding of Music in Australia’, written in 2012 with some updates in 2013. It gives extensive coverage of government support from all three levels of government, the trends in funding, and related policy matters. Other articles deal with regulatory matters such as broadcast content quotas, national cultural policies, multicultural arts, private sector support and more. It describes Creating Australia, the Labor Party’s cultural policy which it undertakes to revive if elected to government.



April 2016

Government support to the arts

Music In Australia Logo-03

Recently, there has been a lot of attention on government funding of the arts. The Knowledge Base contains a lot of information about government support to music, both financial and regulatory.

There are articles on various types of arts support from all three levels of government. A number of articles deal with regulation such as requirements for broadcasters to broadcast quotas of Australian music or television. An article looks at the trends in government subsidies, both national and state. And much more.

To discover all the categories of information on the Knowledge Base, go to BROWSING on the menu bar, and then to CATEGORIES. You will be amazed at the breadth of coverage. There are two with titles beginning with “Government” and they both include articles on arts funding. Between them, they include nearly 40 articles.

Looking at the new Victorian creative industries policy described in this edition of Loudmouth, there will be a need for new treatments of government arts policies and data.

Women composers and conductors in classical music

In recognition of March as Women’s History Month, some US publications have published lists of rising female conductors. We are spurred by this information to look into the current state of play for women in music there, and in Australia, some of which is already recorded in the Knowledge Base.

The US lists of female conductors

Marin Alsop, trailblazer, MD of Baltimore Symphony, São Paulo State Symphony

Joana Carneiro, Portuguese, MD of Berkeley Symphony in California, Portuguese Symphony.

Elim Chan, Assistant with London Symphony, debut at Hong Kong Phil.

Mei-Ann Chen, Taiwanese, Director of Memphis Symphony and Chicago Sinfonietta

Alondra de la Parra, last year appointed Music Director of the Queensland Symphony

Alondra de la Parra

Alondra de la Parra

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Lithuanian, Principal at Birmingham, Association at LA Phil.

Barbara Hannigan, the extraordinary Canadian soprano whose video we ran in the Bulletin in February. Has conducted Concertgebouw, Munich, Toronto, Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Sarah Hicks, born Japan, has appeared with “virtually every urban symphony in the US”.

Susanna Mälkki, Finnish, Mf of Helsinki Philharmonic, former MD of the Ensemble InterContemporain

Xian Zhang, principal guest at BBC Wales, also New Jersey, Verdi orchestra in Milan.

An Australian list

The American publications prompted us to look at the Australian situation. We began with work already to hand. The Music Trust had assembled a list of Australian classical musicians who have been successful internationally. It includes these women conductors.

Jessica Cottis, recent Assistant Conductor, Sydney Symphony, Principal Conductor, Glasgow New Music Expedition

Jessica Cottis

Jessica Cottis

Nicolette Fraillon, Music Director and Chief Conductor, Australian Ballet and in the past, National Ballet of the Netherlands among others

Kelly Lovelady, founder and Music Director of Ruthless Jabiru, a chamber orchestra of Australian musicians in London

Carolyn Watson, Orchestra Director, Interlochen Festival

Simone Young, until recently General Manager and Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Music Director of the Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg, now touring. A tremendous friend to Australian artists.

There is information about all of these people on the list Australian Classical Musicians Successful Abroad at a High Level, found here.


Some women composers with American recognition

These names were drawn from an article by Thomas May in Rhapsody on March 8. Presumably they are a personal selection.  His point is that there is increasing recognition and exposure for women composers and conductors. Most members of his list are relatively young.

Anna Clyne recently completed a multiyear residency as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Jennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize in Music, 2010.

Missy Mazzoli, will soon unveil her latest opera, Breaking the Waves, based on director Lars von Trier’s film from 1996.

Olga Neuwirth, Austrian-born featured composer-in-residence at this summer’s Lucerne Festival

Kaija Saariaho, Finnish. In December the Metropolitan Opera will present her L’Amour de Loin, its first opera by a woman composer since 1903.

Caroline Shaw, Pulitzer Prize in Music, 2013.

Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can co-founder. Last year won the Pulitzer for Anthracite Fields,

Australian women composers with international successes

On the face of it, the list suggests that if you want international performances, it helps to live in Europe.

Alison Bauld, resides in London. BBC commissions, strong in lieder

Jennifer Fowler, resides in London. Many international festival performances, commissioners include radio stations around the world.

Sarah Hopkins. Also a cellist, tours internationally performing her own works

Elena Kats-Chernin. Performed by major organisations in France, Germany, UK, US.

Liza Lim, major commissions from major European and US festivals, orchestras, small ensembles. Professor at University of Huddersfield.

Kate Moore

Kate Moore

Kate Moore, resident in Netherlands. Won many international composition awards, performed by major international festivals, ensembles.

Penelope Thwaites, resident in UK, multi-talented, best known in Australia as a pianist. Has written four musicals of which one has had over 40 productions world-wide.

Natalie Williams, resident in USA. Performances in USA, Europe, UK.


Australian female musicians and composers successful abroad to a high level: some statistics

Hans Hoegh-Guldberg did a statistical breakdown of the list of Australian classical musicians successful abroad, already assembled here by The Music Trust. The breakdown is summarised in the chart below, created before the addition of about 40 more people. Probably that does not much change the proportions between genders or type of position.

The names of those included in the list came to The Music Trust in a somewhat random way and we suspect that, for instance, the list of opera singers might be more complete than the list of composers because opera singers often have continuing employment and their work is more easily located; composers have public exposure one work at a time performed almost anywhere. (Note that “soloist” is most likely to indicate an instrumentalist and “major role” an opera singer. “Management” includes only top level positions such as CEO or Managing Director.)

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While the proportion of composers who are female is low, and of conductors and opera directors is very low, for orchestral principals and concert masters it is relatively high – and for opera soloists the proportions are essentially equal. Now isn’t that interesting?! While we do not have specific data to demonstrate the point, it is not so long since orchestras were predominantly male and women concertmasters a rarity. That is probably still the case for female principals of brass and perhaps, percussion sections.

We hope in a future issue to publish a detailed analysis of the situation with female composers in Australia.

Women in contemporary music

Also in honour of International Women’s Day, Hack, the news section of Triple J, has run the numbers on women in contemporary music. The results are reported on the Triple J website, here. Some of their questions:

How many women are getting paid for their music in Australia? What kind of artists are getting the most love on festival lineups? Is there gender parity on peak music industry boards, and are women more likely to manage labels or artists than men? Are men getting more music award nominations than women? Why is female representation in music still an issue in 2016?

Here are some of the answers.

21.5% of APRA members are women. APRA is the organisation that collects royalties for song-writers and composers so this number compares with the statistic from the Australian Music Centre, although the AMC members are highly selected on the basis of the quality of their work whereas people can join APRA simply on the basis that they have written a song which they hope will sell.

31% of board members of peak music organisations are women. Generally, the glass ceiling keeps female representation on these leadership positions low.

Triple J, Double J and Unearthed staff in music-related positions are 50/50 male/female. These are enlightened organisations and we can be pleased but probably not surprised.

Only 20% of the managers of indie Australian record labels are women. We are guessing that most of these labels are very small and are run by the person who founded them. So in that case, they chose themselves and the question would more appropriately be why are women not setting up indie labels rather than why are they not being chosen as managers.

When it came to data about performers, Hack set up three categories: solo female artists, acts that include at least one woman, and all-male acts whether solo or group. Then, for instance, in looking at the gender breakdown of nominees for an ARIA award, the first two categories are added to produce the female statistic and the male statistic is comprised only of category 3. This inflates the statistic for female representation when, one suspects, most of those bands are probably predominantly male. The second category would be better regarded as mixed gender.

So the percentage of nominees that were female for the APRA Awards was, purportedly, 46%, for ARIA was 33% and for J Award was 40%. But they probably would have been considerably lower if the middle category was called “mixed”. (In fact, that is not a satisfactory solution either, but we don’t need to take this further).

The playlists for Triple J, Double J and Unearthed were 39%, 35% and 39% female, with the definition of female being acts including any female representation. Indeed, a commentator, Astrid Zeman, notes that for Triple J plays, “the real stats…are: 16% all women, 61% all men, 23% mixed”.

Female representation in music festival lineups ranged from 31% to 39% with the exception of Listen Out and Stereosonic, 9% and 10% respectively. It would be good if women customers stayed away from the last two until their managers had a deep think.

There have been years of speculation about the reasons for under-representation of women artists. We won’t wander into that morass, although Hack has a try. Spotify told Hack that “there’s only 21 female artists in the top 100 most-streamed songs in Australia and none of them are in the top 10”. We don’t know the gender breakdown of the Spotify customer base but presumably it’s around 50/50. So women listeners are choosing male artists even beyond their representation in, for instance, the Triple J playlist. Why is that?