The Music Engagement Program (MEP) of the Australian National University’s (ANU) School of Music has been designed and developed by Dr Susan West, based on research and development spanning over three decades. This program has been successfully delivered by Convenor Georgia Pike and Dr West through specific directed funding from the ACT Government ANU Community Outreach Program. The program is based on Dr West’s philosophy of shared, altruistic music making known as The Music Outreach Principle, inspired by the work of Dr John Diamond M.D.
The principal focus in this approach is on the social intent embedded in the music making, rather than the skills that are traditionally defined as ‘progress’ in music development. The MEP is now recognised as an International leader in music education and has a proven track record over 20 years in the ACT education, community and arts sectors. Each year the MEP directly engages a minimum of 7000 students, 250 teachers, 70 schools and thousands of parents and community members through events, teacher training, school site visits and outreach. The MEP provides 550 site visits to schools and over 60 performance and outreach opportunities each year through schools visiting care facilities (‘outreach’) and community groups visiting schools (‘in-reach’). This community building component helps schools to justify and validate additional time spent on arts projects. Large scale events such as the Big Gig bring together schools from across Canberra to share the joy of music en masse, with over 2500 students participating in 2016. The MEP Summary of Activities 2016-2017 document contains further details about the program and its participants.
The philosophy of the program is based on Assoc. Prof. West’s experience and research in music education, general education and music for well-being through both traditional and alternative pathways. Its foundation is in the school system but its application now extends well beyond this realm. Through its teacher programs, outreach concerts, shared goals, shared repertoire, school-to-school and school-to-community activities, the MEP encourages music making as a part of the normal social and cultural lives of all participants, regardless of age, background, ability or skill level.
– Brilliant program. Opened my eyes to the joy and fun of music as opposed to the ‘musts’ of music. Music is now actually enjoyable. (MEP Course Graduate)
The MEP is based on a social philosophy of shared, active music making known as the Music Outreach Principle. It promotes, but does not demand, high-level skills, and does not require expensive instruments or equipment to be effective. It offers an on-going musical pathway for all, regardless of perceived talent or previous experience. Skill development occurs as a natural by-product of joyful engagement, where performance is a stress-free part of the outreach approach.
To learn more about the MEP, please click on one of the links below.