Music teachers sing out in protest at ban on brass and woodwind
The school operations guide for term four states choirs and woodwind and brass instrument use is not permitted in schools, except where required for essential assessments.
“This is based on greater evidence regarding the potential spread of aerosols and droplets from the use of woodwind instruments and singing and voice projection,” the guidelines state.
Ms Morrison is also president of the Australian Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association, which has written to the Victorian government urging it to approve a COVID-safe way of teaching music, as has happened in Queensland and NSW.
Separately, the Association for the Directors of Music in Independent Schools argued in a letter to the Premier that there had been no reported incidences of COVID-19 transmission in music classes in Australia.
“As educators, we agree that the mental health and wellbeing of students is paramount and know that participation in music provides many students with a place of connectedness and safety,” the letter by association president Elizabeth Furman said.
“The directives in place for the return to school in term four will have a damaging and long-term impact on music programs within schools for many years to come. It will also have an immediate and long-term impact on employment for many music educators.”
Hugh McKelvey teaches music at multiple schools in Melbourne and Ballarat and said his casual shifts had been reduced in term four at a regional non-government school.
The directive applies outside of metropolitan Melbourne, even though regional Victoria is a step ahead on the road map to reopening.
Mr McKelvey said children were beginning to lose their motivation after months of remote music classes, and he had hoped to reignite their interest face to face.
Instead, when his class met this week, he resorted to asking them to mimic the finger positions and sliding movements for brass instruments without holding the instruments.
“Today I had a brass section from a year 7 band and I had them all do air trumpet and air trombone,” he said.
“They didn’t really want to be involved in that.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said updated advice allowed schools in regional Victoria to conduct individual tuition or have classes of 10 or fewer outdoors with physical distancing. A solution for metropolitan schools was being explored, they said.
With Emma Anvari
Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.