We interview Jody Heald

Jody Heald AM is a professional accompanist and music educator in Hobart, Tasmania.  A recipient of several degrees and diplomas, Jody is the State President of the Tasmanian Music Teachers’ Association and the National Chairman Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference Association.


When did you realise you wanted to be a music educator?

I began teaching when I was in upper primary school as an assistant in to my mother who taught piano from our home. I was post diploma level at age 15 when she died and I continued teaching some of the students thereafter. I have not stopped ever since that time. 


What was the most important lesson you learned as a student?

The discipline of striving. Through embracing effort as its own reward one learns to use it to deal with all that comes before you in life and to enjoy knowing your own strengths.


What (if anything) do you think is lacking in the next generation of teachers?

It appears that many new young teachers are reluctant to contribute to and benefit from music teacher associations, which exist to maintain a professional profile for studio teachers and provide professional development opportunities for the members. All the associations operate with volunteer committees and fewer young people are committing time to support them.


What (if anything) do you think is lacking in the previous generation of teachers?

Perhaps limited opportunities were available to access as much pedagogical information as there is in today’s digital world.


How do you think technology is affecting music education today? 

Technology is of enormous importance now. From apps for various literacy and musicianship skill development, through all the various streaming opportunities which allow for full audio-visual experiencing of the finest performances and seemingly unlimited research opportunities, a modern studio teacher cannot really be without them. Instruments which allow the student to record themselves and listen critically to their own playing are also invaluable.


Do you have a fail-safe method of inspiring students?

I don’t know about “fail-safe”. I do think that one’s own passion, curiosity and energy for making beautiful music can be infectious.


What is the most rewarding part of being a music educator? 

Sharing the great skill of mastering an instrument and through music making expressing the ineffable qualities of being human.


What is the most important lesson you find yourself teaching your students?

Learning to love the process rather than fixing on the end goal of mastery.


What would you consider to be a highlight of your career thus far and why? 

I would have to say that being awarded an Order of Australia in 2017 with this citation, “for significant service to music education in Tasmania as a teacher, mentor and administrator, and to professional associations.”


What advice would you give to younger music educators?

Constantly search for new music, new ideas, new methods and attend as many professional development sessions as you possibly can.


What style/genre/concept do you enjoy teaching the most?

I enjoy teaching good quality music in all genres.


Did you ever consider any other potential career paths? 

I have many interests which I pursue but music has been a constant.


Do you think it is important for teachers to keep performing?

Yes, even in the most limited way. It is essential to be able to demonstrate in lessons.


What would you like to see more of in the music industry as a whole? 

More collegiality and cooperation and less competition.

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