Life before Girton
I studied a Music and Education double degree at the University of Melbourne. I started my studies at The Melbourne College of Education, which became the University of Melbourne Institute of Education in my second year. On completing my degree I audition for two professional trombone playing positions, rather than take up an offer of further study. I auditioned for were the Australian Army Band of Melbourne (AABM) and The Royal Australian Air force Band of Melbourne (RAAF). I initially did my military testing to join the RAAF Band, but the Army called first with a job offer, so I ended-up wearing green not blue. In 1998 my wife Jacqui and I had our oldest son and decided that professional music was difficult to manage with a baby. Jacqui was working for the RAAF Band at the time and we decided that one of us working logical hours was a very good idea. I applied for several jobs and eventually was offered a position in the Bendigo (State Schools) Instrumental Music Program. I worked in BIMP for eight years and coordinated the (then) six government Secondary Instrumental Music Programs in Bendigo for six of those years. Whilst on long service leave in late 2006 I heard of a possible teaching role at Girton. I applied for a general classroom music teaching role and was successful in that application. On completing the application I was told that the Head of Music was moving to Coffs Harbor and so I successfully applied for that role.
How long have you been at Girton?
Eight years. Every day is full of excitement and excellent music making. I work with twenty-nine amazing Music Department staff in a school that loves music. We collectively teach five hundred and fifty instrumental music students per week and run thirty odd ensembles. Last year we managed to do eighty performances in and around Bendigo. It is a busy place to work, but great fun!
What two things do you love most about teaching?
The face of a parent who has just heard they’re grown up baby in a VCE Music performing like a young professional musician. They often shed a tear of joy. At the same time I love the face on the same student when they realize just how magnificently well they have just performed.
Working with like-minded, motivated people. Nothing beats working with similarly minded students and colleagues.
Why is Girton a great place to teach?
Quite simply it is the mix of wonderful students, magnificent parents, brilliant colleagues, enthusiastic support from the Girton Board and an amazingly supportive Senior Staff. The combination of these elements and the cultural appreciation of the Performing Arts make Girton a dream music school. Where else would there be a Performance Assembly each Friday showcasing the talent of our young performers.
What difference can good teaching make?
A supportive teacher makes all the difference. Having an interested, caring, motivated and supportive teacher allows students opportunities to excel.
What 2 attributes help to make an excellent teacher?
- An ability to engage with people. Students need someone to connect with and once that connection is made then the learning process can really begin.
- An understanding of how people learn. That sounds overly simplistic, but there are dozens of learning types, different personalities and different stages in people’s lives. Understanding how to assist students in their learning makes a huge difference to learning outcomes.