Monday, July 20, 2009


I thoroughly enjoyed the two conferences that I attended in Canterbury. July 3rd - 10th

The first was a Music Research Conference: The 31st Australia New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education (ANZARME) Conference held in Akaroa July 3rd - 6th. The format of the conference was excellent, we all listened to each other, but never for long enough, we had 15 minutes each and so many said 'have I run out already?' I presented a paper about the profile of Ageing New Zealanders, the government's Positive Ageing Strategy and its bias towards physical health and fitness outcomes, with less regard to other ways of both keeping fit and enhancing quality of life (singing), and current research on benefits of singing. I showed them a chart which showed the pre and post blood pressure of my Glee Club, taken before and after rehearsal the day before I left. I will try to put a pdf of this up for you to see, but in summary, the blood pressure in 11 out of 15 people mover closer to normal (being 120 over 80). People whose pressure was low came up and people whose pressure was up came down. It is far too small a sample to mean anything, but given that I had no idea what would happen, I find it significant and something to definitely continue to investigate. During my presentation I did a non-scientific study on the group of 40 people listening. At the beginning of my presentation I asked them to make a mark on the bottom of a page at the back of their pad (provided for us in the conference pack) indicating on a likert scale (left being low, right being high) their current sense of wellbeing. Towards the end of my presentation I put up the words of the first verse of Waltzing Matilda (in deference to the Australians) and they stood and sang with me, then sat and marked a page in front of the first, with their then current sense of wellbeing. Over 65% recorded improved sense, some recorded no change, and one recorded a lower sense (she was the next presenter)(N=40) . This paper will be written up to be published, and if there is a link I will post it here.

The second conference was the MENZA National Music Education Conference held in Christchurch. The keynote speakers were all very good value, with Dr Richard Letts for the Australian Music Council giving excellent advice about how we can better advocate for music at all levels in New Zealand. Professor Sam Leong for Hong Kong gave a provocative presentation on assessment, saying that teaching and learning and assessing should be three side of the same triangle.

My presentation to this conference was more ethnographic. I gave the attendants the results of three open-ended questions that I gave the Glee Club, asking them how Glee Club affected their health, feeling of well-being, and quality of life. I also played two video interviews that I conducted with participants, asking them why they sing in Glee Club, and what they think about our performing on and off site. There were not many who came to my presentation, I went and picked up my Dad, age 87 and he came to see me do my 'thing'. However, those who were there were all very interested and helpful in their comments and supportive of my ongoing work so I have people to bounce ideas off, and one person who is going to send me books that she no longer uses!!!

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