Music mentoring project

Victoria University
Greg Aronson (pictured right)
Music course coordinator/lecturer
9919 3296
AND Adam Hutterer (pictured left)
VE Music program manager
9919 3273

Vignette title and details

Music mentoring project third year undergraduate students act as individual mentors for young students 16-19 who are at risk of discontinuing their education.


Multi discipline music, education, community engagement, social justice, cultural and creative industries

Employment sector

Music industry, education sector, community/social justice, government

Student numbers

Between 5-10 per project but with the capacity to run several projects simultaneously.

Credit bearing?

Voluntary but within an elective unit HE music course structure, 12 credit points for both independent study and negotiated project units in which the mentor project is undertaken by the students


10% comprehensive proposal, 50% journal/diary, 40% personal evaluation according to negotiated criteria.
Students are also monitored during the project by staff/project managers and staff from partner organization.


Students are paid $50 per week for the course of the project to cover transport and other expenses accrued as a result of the project.

Number of staff involved

Two project managers from music programs at VU (VE program manager and HE course coordinator), two staff from the industry organization (Living Music)


Further information about the Music Mentor project can be accessed at and at

Key Words

Mentoring, music mentoring, education, music production, music recording, social engagement, youth, youth transitions


The VU music mentoring project is a pilot program that provides senior music students with an opportunity to work with at risk youth in a real life music industry environment. The project links two existing project based units of study in an undergraduate music course. The Music Mentor Project was initially funded with help from a VU Youth Initiatives grant.

We are conducting the program to assist senior students who are preparing to enter the music industry and music education sector. Students gain experience in future employment fields music education, social and community service and the performance and recording aspects of the music industry. In addition we aim to further generate relationships with community and industry. We are also passionate about instilling in VU music graduates a sense of social responsibility and engagement.

Structure of program

Senior music students are teamed with young students who have been identified as at risk of leaving the education system. These young students have often had poor educational experiences and routinely display learning difficulties, particularly in traditional educational environments.
The project involves mentors and participants working together over a 12 week period in a state of the art music recording studio. The studio is situated in the music industry organization Living Music. Students and their participants work together to write, arrange, produce and record music that is then included on a compilation CD for release. Mentors and participants receive supervision and guidance from experienced industry personnel who have also been involved in similar mentor projects. Regular meetings of all participants in the project are organized to workshop particular challenges and discuss project progress
The Music Mentoring Project is carefully structured and run in order to achieve real and substantial outcomes for all stakeholders.


Victoria University


Special features

Transitions from social and community music activities to more formal institutional music education environments can often present challenges and difficulties for students. Traditional forms of music education have proved problematic for many students who love music but may be turned off by conservative styles of educational delivery.
Programs such as the Music Mentoring Project bring innovative and interesting variations to teaching and curriculum development. The Music Mentor Project is an LIW opportunity that is assisting us to develop new ways in which music is taught. Thinking about the way music had been taught had arguably stagnated (perhaps best embodied in the traditional and hermetic conservatorium model) and had resulted in the waning interest in music program enrolments, lack of general satisfaction with delivery and curriculum and the lack of preparedness of music students for the real world. The music industry is tough, often mysterious and unpredictable. LIW projects such as the Music Mentor Project offer students the opportunity to develop real skills and knowledge that more adequately prepare them for success in the industry.
The Music Mentor Project is an opportunity to augment what students already do in their community and industry but as part of their coursework. It offers the opportunity to move away from the what I have to do as part of my course (another lecture?) to what I like to do while continuing to teach the requisite skills and knowledge.
Students have reported that they appreciate the opportunity to experience an alternative learning environment and the varied learning that is embodied within the project
The Music Mentor Project was outlined as the basis for a presentation at the 2008 Victoria University Learning Matters Symposium and attracted interest and a number of positive responses. Representatives from other disciplines were particularly interested in how they might incorporate similar mentor based projects into the LIW areas of their curriculums

Future work

A major part of the project is the production of a comprehensive evaluation. This assists in identifying strengths and weaknesses to feed into future projects. The Music Mentor Project model needs to develop sustainability and securing future funding and/or incorporation into existing curricula will be an important post project endeavour. The project model could attract further funding from external organisations. Living Music and VU music would be well placed to access funding by applying in partnership.

The potential exists to expand mentoring projects to other disciplines and other educational institutions. It is envisaged that with careful evaluation and further preparation that mentor projects such as this can be successfully incorporated into a wide range of courses and curricula. This mentoring program is designed as a pilot program that will be developed into a self sustaining model to be used in a number of environments and incorporating a wide range of participants.
The LIW component of these projects is a significant aspect of all future projects.
Student challenges concerning participants and dealing with industry expectations will be monitored and addressed. However it is important that students face and are forced to deal with real life problems, difficulties and experiences so they are better prepared for their place in the industry

The model is designed to connect students with learning through project work (the process of writing and recording songs) in a real industry environment. To this end, participants will also experience work in an industry and make contacts that may assist them with future employment opportunities.

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