By LINDY REKSTEN, sessional teacher at the ANU School of Music teaching in the pre-tertiary area
I AM one of the cohort of sessional staff in the pre-tertiary and tertiary area who, according to ANU vice-chancellor Prof Ian Young, won’t be affected by his changes to the ANU School of Music.
It is true that I won’t be losing a full-time salaried position, but like all sessional staff members, my work and the future of young musicians in Canberra will be monumentally affected by the demise of a conservatorium model school of music.
The “Implementation Plan” announced by Prof Young is simply a reworded version of the proposal put to staff on May 3. Nothing has changed. Instrumental teaching is to be outsourced, leading to the departure from Canberra of many fine musicians. There will be nothing to attract high-quality instrumental teaching staff to Canberra in the future.
Despite the 700 submissions and 25,000 petition signatures, Prof Young and colleagues have simply gone ahead as planned. Contrary to the statement made by Prof Young about the minimal impact on the CSO and other music organisations in the ACT, those of us actually involved in music performance and teaching in the ACT know that the impact will be profound.
Could the outcome have been different?
Yes, it certainly could have. If Prof Young had chosen to meet School of Music performance staff, members of the business community and other interested parties six months ago to look at all possibilities in a spirit of co-operation. Rather than confrontation, we could have been well on the way to having a model for a sustainable music school.
There is no reason why a university style music department catering for non-performance students could not exist alongside a conservatorium. The will, imagination and the vision just have to be there. The lack of respect for the staff and students and the bullying method used by the ANU to implement these changes at the School of Music is breathtaking.