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Q & A: Mary Ann Cauchi - "The arts education sector needs to prepare students holistically"

11/02/2016
by Mahira Spiteri
Language: EN

Born in Malta, Mary Ann Cauchi, Officer-in-Charge at the Johann Strauss School of Music Malta has a thorough background in the education field and in the arts and culture scenario. The School provides education in music and caters for a wide age range and different abilities. The eldest student attending the School of Music is 79 years old, whilst the youngest is 6 years old. The School team consists of 62 dedicated and committed staff members.

 

/epale/en/file/mary-ann-cauchiMary Ann Cauchi

Mary Ann Cauchi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Ann Cauchi, Officer-in-Charge at Johann Strauss School of Music, Malta

 

 

1. Tell us something about yourself, something that not many people know about you.

I am quite an open book and there is not much that people do not know about me. Leading skillfully away from hierarchies and helping others unconditionally is very personally gratifying to me. On a daily basis I remind myself that “everybody is fighting his / her own battle” and this helps me look at and deal with people around me very differently. I believe that “no man is an island” and one needs to be committed to the team in order to achieve the best results.

 

2. Have you engaged in adult learning? In what ways and what did you learn? If not, would you consider it?

I have taught piano and music theory to adults. Overall it was an enriching experience. As an educator, I initially establish the capabilities and limitations of each adult learner and then track the route to achieve the necessary competences and encouragement with a ratio of 1:3. Empowerment is always very much in demand amongst the adult learners.

 

3. What constitutes a good adult education?

An adult educator should never take anything for granted. A fine balance should be struck between hand-holding the adult student and giving him /her necessary independence and freedom. The educator should constantly be aware of what entices or discourages the adult student in question to make the most out of his / her learning experience.

 

4. The Visual and Performing Arts industry seems to be in the limelight lately in Malta especially with events like Valletta 2018 on the horizon. What are the main changes happening?

The arts education sector needs to prepare students holistically to face the 21st century visual and performing arts industry. For example, a pianist needs to know how to market him / herself and how to be entrepreneurial about his / her profession and not just be proficient in piano-playing.   

The 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture is being held in Valletta, Malta, in October, 2016 and will treat cultural leadership in the 21st century. The Johann Strauss School of Music has proposed to present a paper including an audio-visual research analysis of the School’s past and present students, teachers and alumni who work professionally in the music performing arts field. The Summit will identify the necessary short and long term paving in the music education performing arts field in order to develop outreaching and entrepreneurial performing artists; to level with the rapid technological impact; to unwrap cultural diversity and freedom of expression.

 

5. Are there any factors related to creative arts and education that you would like to improve? Mention a few.

Similarly to the European trend, the creative arts in Malta need to work and merge together. This needs to start at the early stages of arts education.

Ideally, students are given the opportunity to attend a performing arts school on a full-time basis as from primary and / or secondary level. During his / her performing arts schooling, the student specialises in one particular performing art such as music, drama or dance, and meanwhile chooses a second art discipline. Therefore, the more artists are knowledgeable in other art forms, the smoother the merge between the arts.

As from next year, the School of Music will provide specialized courses such as a Diploma in Performance and a Diploma in Musicology which will also include skill-based units such as ‘how to market oneself’ and how to coordinate a concert.

The School of Music will also provide more leisure based courses, thus catering for adult learning from a different perspective. These courses will include, Reading Music, Playing Music, Appreciating Music, Making Music Together and Writing Music Songs.

 

6. What are your views on the visual and performing arts and digital learning?

It is imperative that there is continuous training for visual and performing arts educators to keep abreast with rapidly developing technologies.

Digital learning can be very useful and healthy when used correctly and copyright regulations respected thus celebrating the artist.

 

7. Mention a few inspiring stories that you have come across.

One particular adult student is passing through a difficult time and in conjunction with all the on-going medical treatments, he is still attending music practice classes regularly.

A visually impaired adult student managed to obtain all the necessary music theory grades. With several upcoming challenges as from next year, she will be attending Making Music Together classes with her own music band.

One particular teacher-pensioner who is the eldest adult educator, is one of the most updated in the rapidly growing technological world and contemporary teaching pedagogies. She is a sound model to all of us music educators.

The above are personally very inspiring situations to me; their passion for music fuels them with energy to work hard and achieve results; these are situations which make me work even harder to achieve the best for the students and the School.

 

 

 

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