U21 Champion - Dr Brad Merrick, University of Melbourne

In these difficult and turbulent times U21 wants to create some positivity to share around the network.  We want to recognise and celebrate those people who have made a real difference to their colleagues and their workplace during the pandemic – our U21 Champions. 

Dr Brad Merrick, from the University of Melbourne with his team has contributed to over 20 national or international conferences and workshops online, continued to support students who are still abroad due to travel restrictions and created a music education podcast. 

Melbourne Covid Champs
Dr Leon de Bruin, Dr Brad Merrick & Dr Carol Johnson

Dr Merrick was nominated by a member of his team who said:

'Dr Merrick and his Master of Music Performance Teaching (MMPT) team at the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (Melbourne, Australia) are an exceptional trio of tertiary music educators that have contributed their research in online music education into practical application during COVID.

Consisting of Dr Brad Merrick, Dr Leon de Bruin and Dr Carol Johnson, the MMPT teaching team have successfully implemented and sustained an exceptional level of teaching and international impact to support both students and the broader music education community during and beyond the initial phase of the pandemic. Looking beyond a pandemic, this team has gone above and beyond their duties to maintain the sustainability of music education for its future.

Dr Merrick provides adaptive leadership and enables both the MMPT students and his teaching team to achieve success in an inclusive manner. He has taken detailed care and time to ensure staff and students are supported by communicating value and appreciation for all during these difficult times. Together, the team has mirrored this care and concert for student well-being by promoting one-to-one conversations and regular cohort meetings. This has been of particular importance students still abroad due to the travel restrictions into Australia, and the state government lock down and isolation restrictions. Despite these challenges, this care for students has been shared among the broader community and has resulted in an increased enrollment and zero attrition rate during the pandemic.  

The teaching team applied their research in online learning to the practical application and shifted all MMPT classes to the online environment. The strengths of the MMPT teaching team's educational technology and online learning knowledge were also used to support the larger Faculty of Fine Arts and Music for teaching professional development workshops in teaching online (including the development of a faculty resource hub organized with video demonstrations for teaching online).

Further, the team initiated and/or supported 5 national and 4 international music conference/workshops to shift online. The MMPT teaching team members went beyond the regular obligations of teaching students in the unprecedented shift to teaching all classes online and proceeded to help support the larger tertiary music education community in the shift to online music teaching. For example, they organised the Teaching Music Online in Higher Education conference to transform to a virtual format in April 2020 amid the initial stages of the pandemic and lock down in Australia. Music academics from 66 different international institutions (including: Australia, England, Scotland, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Morocco, Belgium, Italy, and Denmark) valued the meaningful learning opportunities and timeliness of the conference's workshop, keynote speakers and presentation sessions.

Their outstanding contributions cross platforms and borders. This includes: a music education technology podcast developed, facilitating a journal special edition on online music education and 3 journal articles on COVID-related online music teaching. Finally, during the pandemic, the three members have presented online at 6 Australian and 13 international conferences to share effective online music teaching practices with their local and international music colleagues.'

Dr Merrick responded:

'At a time where connection, care and communication have been vital components of the Master of Music (Performance Teaching) course at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne, it has been great to work with many staff and students online and maintain a sense of community and purpose amidst so much uncertainty and change. It has been great to see the willingness of staff to adapt, pivot and modify their teaching and creative skills, and also have students who have engaged actively via remote access for over 6 months with positivity, due to travel restrictions and lockdown. The opportunities to work collaboratively and virtually with so many people in a myriad of locations have highlighted how we can rise to the challenge with the right mindset, while also providing valuable insights into emerging teaching practice and research for future consideration.'

Congratulations on making the world a better place in 2020!

R Edwards