Musicians drum it up for peers who can’t get teaching jobs

11 October 2020
The Straits Times

Local musicians have spoken up strongly for their peers who are unable to secure teaching positions in institutions in Singapore despite their talent – because they do not hold degrees. While some said there is value in teaching credentials, others noted that the skills and expertise gained as a practitioner should be equally recognised. The discussion was sparked by a Facebook post on 3 October by homegrown jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro, 60, who raised the subject.

His post was shared nearly 800 times and garnered more than 1,300 reactions. Mr Monteiro, whose professional music career started in 1976, was conferred Singapore’s highest arts prize, the Cultural Medallion, in 2002. He has also been a visiting professor at Lasalle College of the Arts and University of West London’s London College of Music, since 2006 and 2016 respectively.

When contacted, he said he felt that it would be a waste if local musicians, who have years of experience in the industry but no academic qualifications, are not allowed to formally teach part-time or full-time. Mr Monteiro said he is not against academic qualifications, which can be useful in the teaching of the arts. But local institutions, he added, should also recognise the benefits that practitioners can bring to music education, and be more proactive in reaching out to them.

Local institutions said they value academic credentials. However, some are less strict on such criteria, with industry experience also playing a role in selection processes. The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) said both proven track records of teaching and industry experience are important criteria for selection. “Industry experience can also be considered as an equivalent to the minimum educational qualifications for teaching diploma and degree courses,” it said. NAFA, which offers courses in areas like music as well as art and design, added that it employs 96 fulltime and adjunct academic staff who do not hold degrees, of whom 16 teach at its School of Music.

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.