NSW - Reigniting the Passion for Music

The NSW Distance Education Secondary Music Teachers Network have strengthened their relationships between all five NSW Secondary Distance Education Centres, Southern Cross University, and professional musicians thanks to a recent three-day conference recently held at Goonellabah, Lismore, NSW hosted by Southern Cross School of Distance Education.

The State Distance Education Secondary Music Teachers Conference had teachers from each of the five NSW Distance Education Centres in the state in attendance with additional network members from as far as Dubbo School of Distance Education joining in for sessions via Video Conference.  Peter Richardson from Camden Haven High School said “This needs to continue.  It strengthens and develops the relationship between all Distance Education Centres.” Peter Dick from Camden Haven High School said ‘Practical workshops gave us the opportunity to experience the work/ideas from a student’s perspective were most memorable.’

Song writing with Dan Hanaford
Attendees were inspired by practical workshop and sharing sessions. “It was great to have the opportunity to speak directly to the professional musicians as they unpacked their songs with us followed up with practical workshops with them.” Says Isaac Frankham from Southern Cross School of Distance Education.

Attendees were ‘inspired to do some songwriting’ when Dan Hannaford presented showing the importance of the narrative in lyrics.  He performed and unpacked songs from his album ‘I Cried Bullets’. Timothy Higginbotham from Sydney Distance Education High School said he gained insight of ‘how to use everyday conversations as inspiration for lyrics’ whilst Justin Ayling reflected that ‘Dan was an inspiring presenter. Dan really helped re-ignite the passion for music.’

Karabar Distance Education Music Teacher Anna Brown enjoyed learning from T-Larmon aka Tom Mwanza,  as he showed the ‘richness and variety of musical traditions from Central Southern Africa, Zambia’, performing from his Afro hip-hop album ‘Full Speed’ breaking down the rhythms showing how the traditional ‘Kalindula rhythm’ has been transferred to popular music styles.  A hand drumming practical workshop was enjoyed by all with Justin Ayling from Dubbo Distance Education said ‘This was very inspiring. I will be buying some djembe’s for visiting DE students for the classroom.’  And Peter Dick From Camden Haven High School summed up the session saying ‘Tom provided a fully immersed experience for participants involving dancing, to playing and understanding the Kalindula rhythm.’

Guest presenter T-Larmon aka Tom Mwanza leading the hand drumming practical session

Sharny Russell, a leading Australian female jazz vocalist, has been in the music industry for many years. She performed for the attendees and then followed up with her going through her vocal exercises, jazz vocals and jazz keys methodology breaking down teaching strategies to strengthen students aural, pitching and vocal techniques.  Sharon Mwanza, the DE Music Network Coordinator stated ‘Sharny’s performances were exquisite as she demonstrated her vocal skills.  As she was delivering her session she never lost focus of developing us as teachers by constantly giving us practical strategies and resources to use with students in their singing and aural skills.”

Justin Ayling, Anna Brown, Isaac Frankham, Sharny Russell, Peter Dick, Tim Higginbotham, Peter Richardson, Steve McLeod

Resources for each Distance Education Centre were purchased with network funds from the presenters to use in the network creating new and engaging units of contemporary works for Distance Education Music Students.

The Distance Education Secondary Music Teachers Network partnered with Southern Cross University at Lismore to attend an APRA Masterclass with Harry Angus James from The Cat Empire talk about his new album and his experiences in the music industry.

The Distance Education Music Teachers formed a panel for Southern Cross University's students who may be interested in careers in Music Education.  Sharon Mwanza said, “It’s important to us to give something back to our future teachers by partnering with Southern Cross University.  Our teachers got to see the full scope of their Music department facilities on a tour with SCU Senior Lecturer Matt Hill, from the instrumental studios, state of the art recording studios, lecture rooms and music computer labs. It was great to learn more about the courses they offer in Music so we can pass this information on to our students interested in careers in music.” 

The attendees were unified in their approach to continue sharing resources with each other.  The next State Distance Education Secondary Music Teachers Conference is planned to be hosted by Sydney Distance Education High School in 2019.

Discussion panel at Southern Cross University talking to students interested in careers in Music Education

For further information about the guest artists and sessions contact DE Music Network Coordinator Sharon Mwanza at Southern Cross School of Distance Education on 02 66810442 or go to the artist’s websites at:


Dan Hannaford http://www.danhannaford.com/

T-Larmon AKA Tom Mwanza https://www.tommwanzaproductionz.com/

Sharny Russell https://sharnyrussell.com/

APRA Songwriting masterclasses at Southern Cross University https://www.scu.edu.au/school-of-arts-and-social-sciences/creative-arts-showcase/music/apra-amcos-songwriters-masterclass/

Videos of previous APRA Masterclasses at Southern Cross University


Southern Cross University – Contemporary Music https://www.scu.edu.au/school-of-arts-and-social-sciences/contemporary-music/

For further information re press release contact Sharon Mwanza, HT CAPA, Southern Cross School of Distance Education on 66810442 or sharon.mckay@det.nsw.edu.au