Performing arts in Australian schools

The Mcdonald College. performing arts in Australian schools.

What is performing arts in Australian schools?

According to the Victorian Department of Education, performing arts programs in Australian schools focus on dance, drama, music and visual art.

Different forms of performing arts in Australian schools

There are many different forms of performing arts in Australian schools.

The performing arts curriculum varies from state to state.

Common forms of performing arts at school may include:

  • Mandatory music learning
  • Choir
  • Dance
  • Solo ensembles 
  • School spectacular
  • Band
  • School assemblies

The degree of performing arts available in Australian Schools depends on your child’s school. Many independent schools offer a range of unique performing arts subjects, extracurricular activities including music programs.

Music Learning in the context of the International Grammar School Curriculum, is founded on nurturing creativity and self-expression through a wide range of learning intentions based on singing, moving, creating and playing. In fostering vibrant and collaborative experiential learning opportunities for students, all Music Programs are designed around building new skills through experience experiences that promotes visible thinking, strengthens children’s confidence, and provides opportunities to form new relationships and connections in team-building contexts.

Darren Kuilenburg, Director of Music, International Grammar School, Sydney

At the International Grammar School, Sydney, students have the opportunity to pursue music from Early Learning.

The philosophical underpinning of the IGS Music Program is grounded in music education methodologies including Kodály, Orff-Schulwerk and Dalcroze which forms our IGS Music Literacy Program where students from Early Learning through to Year 12 interact with experiences in composing, listening and performing through a common language that is shared between all Music Educators.

The importance of performing arts in Australian schools

Performing arts in education teaches students a range of unique skills and opportunities for students.

“It is time to recognise and place value on ALL the skills that our young people acquire over their 13 years of formal school education.

The Mcdonald College 3. performing arts in Australian schools.
Credit: The Mcdonald College

During lockdown, we streamed more movies and listened to more music than perhaps ever before. Some of us turned to creative pursuits. Many of us yearned for the day when live performances – whether that was gig, theatre, dance would return. If anything, lockdown shone a light on how important the performing arts industry and creative industries are to us.”

Maxine Kohler, Principal, The McDonald College

 Interacting with others and a sense of community

Pursuing performing arts is a great way for your child to interact with others and build a sense of community.

Your child may need to work effectively in a group to finalise performance details, practice their ensemble performances, or raise money for a performing arts trip.

“The function of Music here at IGS is structured around building experiences that form relationships and interconnections across various year groups. Ultimately, the importance of Music in Education is intrinsically linked to enhancing one’s appreciation of Music through the joy of making music with friends.”

Common skills students gain from engaging with performing arts include:

  • Team building through social interaction and cooperation
  • Effective communication with people inside and outside the group
  • Planning and prioritisation with other group members

Creating a unique voice and identity

Another benefit of participating in performing arts includes the ability for students to find their unique voice and identity.

Participating in performing arts as well as other academic endeavours allows your child to experience a well-rounded education.

“I have seen thousands of passionate students dedicating many hours perfecting their skills, techniques and artistry as a musician, actor, or dancer. Many of these students have performed professionally both here and overseas. Other performing arts graduates find success as journalists, economists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and business leaders.

It is these skills that performing arts students develop that will see them become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Maxine Kohler, Principal, The McDonald College

Performing arts also allows students to build their confidence and identity by:

  • Promoting self-motivation and self-expression
  • Expression of creativity 
  • Building and developing public speaking and other self-confidence skills


Releases anxiety

Performing arts is a proven outlet to help children overcome anxiety, depression and offers emotional release.

Overall, performing arts benefits mental health through the real life interactions, increased self-confidence, allowing students to explore creativity and providing a safe space to express difficult emotions.

An evaluation revealed that working with arts led to a 71% decrease in ‘feelings of anxiety’, with 69% feeling more ‘socially included’.

Overall school performance

Participating in performing arts in school may also benefit student learning in other subjects.

Performing arts has been proven to:

  • Develop memory skills
  • Build problem-solving through dealing with unexpected situations
  • Higher analytical thinking and reasoning

As a team of educators, we believe that the learning of musical instruments and the importance of singing within the curriculum, has significant benefit to the cognitive and physical aspects of a child’s development. Alongside the satisfaction in creating music on an instrument or singing as part of a group, rich learning experiences in Music help improve memory and abstract reasoning skills required for disciplines like Math and Science, supporting distinct correlations between musical training and academic attainment.

Darren Kuilenburg, Director of Music, International Grammar School, Sydney

Overall arts connect with many areas of life including communication, anthropology, history, science and maths.
Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 38 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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