Music Hub

Considering a career in music? Be part of the Music Hub teaching network in Regional NSW. As 2007 draws to a close, thousands of graduates will pour out of Australia’s tertiary cultural institutions and begin (or continue) to seek out job opportunities.
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Considering a career in music? Be part of the Music Hub teaching network in Regional NSW.

As 2007 draws to a close, thousands of graduates will pour out of Australia’s tertiary cultural institutions and begin (or continue) to seek out job opportunities.

If you’re a graduate in the arts sector, the jobs competition is high and securing a career in your field of choice is a challenge in the highly populated metropolitan areas. With a little thinking outside the square, it’s possible to be working in your field of study in without a little niche marketing of your talents into the areas of Australia that really require skilled and creative people.

Music Hub actively encourages recent graduates of major music institutions to relocate to regional and remote areas set up a music school or take over from a current business. It’s run by highly respected and enigmatic musician, performer and teacher Mark Walton. Thanks to help through the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) and more recently the FRRR/ANZ Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, the program has provided Walton with funding to mentor music teachers and their students across the state throughout 2007, with Orana Arts acting in a support role for the program.

For many musicians, relocating to a regional area to work as a self-employed music teacher is a time for accelerated personal and professional growth. While there can be a few challenges to your role, Music Hub meets these obstacles through fostering a high standard teaching network across the state, contributing to ongoing, creative community music production, enabling professional development and dedicated support for the teacher and student. Similar to existing regional networks such as the Regional Arts NSW Network and Tourism NSW, this support invariably makes a difference to teachers being retained and supported in regional areas. Based on discussions with those currently in the network, Music Hub teachers can earn between $50,000-60,000 per annum with low overheads, excellent lifestyle, less competition and an extremely supportive community.

Walton comments that in regional communities there is a ‘snowball effect’ of demand for music teaching services, as word spreads quickly and clients escalate when the teacher settles into their role. “Their presence in the community will make a positive difference, and be quickly noticed so that they can rapidly start to build their student numbers and increase their income.”

“When a new graduate starts teaching in a regional area, he or she will immediately experience the huge advantage in taking this important step. Straightaway local people will offer friendship and assistance to the new teacher in setting up their teaching practice.”

Living and working in regional, rural or remote area in your own creative practice also builds a set of solid business skills. Through managing a business, teachers become skilled in a variety of administrative, customer service, marketing and organisational tasks. Plus, Music Hub teachers become are able to pursue self-directed goals or study and become known as a unique cultural identity in their communities.

Jenny Binovec was based in Coonabarabran for two years and feels the community responds greatly to a professional teacher presence. “I taught about 60 students of all ages and conducted primary bands, conducted and played in Orbital Swing Band and ran small ensembles. I organised student concerts, played at fetes and other town events and had students do AMEB exams. There are some very talented students in Coonabarabran.”

Binovec, now in Sydney, cites her time in the west as experiencing an extraordinary level of professional and personal growth. “Of course, I have to admit that at times I felt daunted by the task of leading and being responsible for the woodwind and brass scene but it’s all been so worthwhile.”

Walton comments there are significant changes within the regional community which benefits as a result of a professional music teacher presence, increasing the community as a more desirable place to live. “The most significant and noticeable contribution to a town is the establishment of a band or other musical ensembles,” he comments.

“Nothing will attract more public recognition than the Town Band proudly marching down the Main Street on Anzac Day. This will always encourage other people to want to learn and has a knock-on effect of raising spirits.”

Music Hub currently supports eighteen highly skilled teachers across the state from Mungindi to Wagga, Kendall to Warren. As testament to outstanding work with communities, last year’s exam results had 22% of students placed in the A+ range, with 1 in 5 students participating in group ensemble work (Source: Music Hub Teacher Survey July 2007). However, it’s not only about achievements of the students, as Dave Gwilliam, based in the Mid North Coast area points out. “My aspiration for my students is to build well rounded, happy and confident musicians who are versatile,” he comments. “Walton’s visits to my region and workshops have been extremely beneficial to my community.”

Wendy Champion is currently based in Inverell, New South Wales. “This side interest from my school years became my main study and my life,” she commented. “Realising just how patient and encouraging my teachers have been with me will be a life long process as I am now on the other side teaching full time.”

With long distances to cover in the bush, the innovative use of technology is also unique feature of Music Hub. The latest tool of choice is Skype, utilised for video music lessons with students and teachers in regional NSW – some teachers also utilise videoconferencing facilities through the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET). Walton, excited about the flexibility of the network, is anticipating positive outcomes through the use of technologies and achievements for the future. The Music Hub website is also a tool for teachers, providing fact sheets on record keeping, administration templates, spreadsheets, lesson plans and articles of inspiration from across the state.

It’s a great lifestyle professional development and career choice with plenty of professional support, as Walton comments. “All obstacles can be quickly overcome – everyone will be just so enthusiastic to help the new teacher feel at home and establish themselves.” With this, isolation is quickly overcome for regional music teachers within the Music Hub network. “Music Hub is so important in nurturing links between teachers and communities.”

Current vacancies exist at Coonabarabran, Orange and other locations. Want more information or thinking about applying to join the network in 2008? Visit Music Hub online at check out the article in ArtReach or get in touch with the Orana Arts Office on (02) 6817 8704.

Merryn Spencer
About the Author
Merryn is the Project/Promotions Officer with the Regional Arts Board Orana Arts – working to develop vibrant and sustainable communities in the arts in the Dubbo, Narromine, Gilgandra and Warrumbungle Shires. She is also a practising artist.