This last weekend I attended the Kennedy Awards, a New South Wales-based peer-awarded recognition of excellence in journalism, in the role of handbag to my journalist husband (who also happened to be nominated for, and go on to win, an award). Many stories were shared over the course of the night – events that had transpired behind the headlines, hair-raising exploits of reporters whose recklessness was matched by their journalistic brilliance. At some point in the evening, my husband noted that, for all the journalists in the room, these were ‘the good old days’ that would be recounted 20 years, 30 years, 50 years hence. From the premier undone by a bottle of wine through to disgraced former policemen being arrested for murder; from pervasively corrupt infrastructure deals involving Sydney’s water supply and regional mining leases through to politicians being handed paper bags of $10,000 cash just prior to elections; these are the good old days these journalists will look back on. This last weekend
I spent today (July 12) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at an event importantly titled the Classical Music Futures Summit, having scored a lucky last-minute invitation to be part of the talkfest. So lately invited was I (somewhere between 6 and 2 weeks ago, depending on how you interpret the invitation) that the sheet listing the participants, explaining who they worked with/for, what they did/had done, along with their email addresses, didn’t include me. Which was fine – I’m very well-accustomed to people asking me who on earth I am. This was my first experience at an event run by a professional facilitator, and I’ve come away from the day with a sense of awe at the quick-witted skillfulness displayed throughout the event, quickly sifting ideas into themes, managing the time-ego tug-of-war, and working to deliver both forward momentum and a sense of ownership to the participants. Truly inspiring work. I’ve also come away from the day thrilled to
Quite some time ago now I wrote a piece titled “Unconvincing Arguments for Music Education” in response to an article in the Australian press arguing for mandatory music education in Australian schools. At first glance this heading may have suggested I believed either music education was not a valuable aspect of a child’s development, or that music education should not be included in the mandated curriculum. Quite the reverse, in fact, on both counts; but the arguments for why music education is important need to be more than a simple assertion that music education is a Good Thing, that it Improves Society and Civilises Citizens, and that we would be All the Poorer Without It. This contribution just doesn’t cut it in the kind of evidence-based, best-practice world we inhabit these days. With curricula and education practice endorsed and mandated in most part through the political system, it is vital that music educators stop arguing the value of music education
I grew up in a community in rural New Zealand where many of the adults played the piano, and many of the adults who didn’t play the piano did play some other instrument, and nearly all the other adults were either enthusiastic or talented singers. I grew up thinking everyone had a piano in their home and that of course everyone would want to play some kind of musical instrument, even if it wasn’t the piano. Adulthood in Sydney, Australia has provided me with many instances demonstrating the degree to which I got it so terribly wrong: this city is filled with (and run by) people who not only grew up without a piano in the home or the desire to play a musical instrument, but they really have no idea at all about what it means to play a piano, or even what a piano is. I was at a party held one New Year’s Eve in Darling Point
This is the complaint I’ve just sent off to the ABC about the ridiculous story they did about NSW politics last night….. I will update the blog if a response is forthcoming, and/or if the calibre of state political reporting suddenly improves. Leaving aside the dubious judgement involved in deciding the most important state political news of the day was that Kristina Kenneally objected to being winked at in parliament, the segue into the launch of a new education program by Verity Firth (commenting that the minister for education had a brush with trouble herself) demonstrated a complete absence of logic. This ‘brush with trouble’ was that some small twigs from an overhanging tree branch brushed Verity Firth’s hair as she entered a school ground. You have got to be kidding me. On the ABC? The story was simply untrue – Verity Firth had not had a ‘brush with trouble’ of any kind. Puerile reportage of this kind does nothing
So here in Australia, thanks to Senator Fielding, we now know that ‘fiscal’ has neither 3 syllables (as in physical) nor a K. Turns out that Fielding has trouble with language thanks to a form of dyslexia that resulted in his achieving only 29 in his final high school English exams. His other marks were exceptional (all in the 90s) so this is not an issue of intellect, but rather of a specific aptitude that Fielding lacks in regard to language skills. Fielding was addressing a media contingent a few days ago, and after he had referring several times to ‘physical policy’ one intrepid reporter inquired if he didn’t mean ‘fiscal policy’. Fielding replied “fiscal – F-I-S-K-A-L” to the collective surprise (and then delight) of everyone in the media who knew that’s not how you spell fiscal. So now we have people coming to Fielding’s defence, saying “leave the poor bloke alone, he can’t help it if he can’t spell”.