The SEA Music Academy Online began as a response to The Great Shutdown of 2020, where teachers and students globally explored – and struggled with – virtual teaching for the first time.
Our first conference brought together teachers across the region to discover new pedagogical strategies and approaches to engaging with students on the new platform. With experts from across Southeast Asia, the Academy’s foray brought together some two hundred participants, and our keynote address by Prof. Emeritus Dr Donald Maurice, MNZM provided a look to a post-pandemic future, encapsulating how we would not only cope in lockdowns, but use the virtual platform in the long run.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
Catapulting from that success, the Academy went on to establish itself as a leader in educational technology, hosting online courses, sessions, and workshops. Key highlights are sessions on virtual examinations by Trinity College London and the ABRSM, and courses on piano pedagogy and baroque performance practice. We tapped into experts in three major music pedagogy movements: Dalcroze, Kodály, and Suzuki, hosting sessions for both teachers and students. We also provided professional development sessions and courses in digital media, social media, and public speaking.
The second conference explored new boundaries in music, crossing genres and celebrating musical cultures of Southeast Asia. Our keynote speaker was the preeminent public speaker Benjamin Zander of TEDTalk fame. This conference brought some 180 participants together in the virtual space.
Our most recent major event was a Children’s Festival, in which we had young children from pre-school age upwards and their parents. Some 23 teacher observers also participated, allowing sessions to not only educate children but provide a model for teaching across the region. Sessions included the use of song, movement, and storytelling, and active learning was a core approach of all these sessions, allowing participants to dance, sing, craft tales, connect to other children across the region, and participate in masterclasses. We took the unusual step of having a guest speaker who was also a child: the virtuoso violinist and prodigy Chloe Chua.
Leading Tech in Education
The Academy has established itself in the area of educational technology not only through the success of these programmes, but also its reach across the region:
We have also had success in grants, and established partnerships with over a dozen NGOs, music schools, and other organizations, including the Singapore Music Teachers’ Association, the Music Society of Myanmar, the Euroasia Association of Performing Arts, the Malaysian Association for Music Education, the Bandung Philharmonic and the Selangor Symphony Youth Orchestra. Instructors and speakers have included Susanna Saw, Jerison Harper Lee, Chi Hoe Mak, Linda Fiore, Loo Bang Hean, Sylvia Khoo, and Yin Ke.
The Academy is well-versed with hosting concurrent sessions that allow for multiple tracks catering to differing ages or interests, breakout rooms for more vibrant discussions and peer-to-peer engagement assisted by a carefully curated group of facilitators, and both synchronous and asynchronous delivery. Our team includes professionals with experience in both educational technology and online learning that pre-dates the pandemic, allowing the Academy to take a leading role from lockdowns and to a new normal. Two of our directors have also produced several academic articles and videos on online learning, and the entire team was featured in the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music Symposium 2021 in Thailand on the success of our endeavour.