Andrew Pennay

2022 Award Recipient for Excellence in Australian Kodály-inspired Music Education: Innovation

Nominated by Zoe Penman

Andrew Pennay is Director of Creative Arts at Brisbane Girls Grammar School, where he implements aural-based activities to enhance composition and improvisation work. Andrew has lectured in music education at a tertiary level and has presented workshops nationally and internationally, focusing on musicianship and upper secondary teaching methodology. For 12 years, he was a performer and Assistant Conductor with The Australian Voices, touring new Australian choral music globally. He has been a long serving Queensland State Panellist for Music Extension. In 2011, Andrew received a National Award for Excellence in School Music Education through the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme. 

In his spare time, he plays banjo, pedal organ and toy piano in a folk band, and has recently finished writing and producing a dream pop album Slow Emotion with Mardi Lumsden, to be released shortly. 

Response to Selection Criteria
Andrew Pennay continues to be a model of innovative music teaching, within the practice of Kodaly Education, by exemplifying both the values of this pedagogy and his own principles that foster a culture of authentic music exploration and creating within his classrooms and communities. His personal teaching style is founded in producing quality compositions and the importance of prosody to encourage nuanced musical and lyrical expression. In a given week, this could look like creating Hungarian-countryside inspired lyrics to a ‘black keys canon’ with his year 8 students or unpacking Olivia Rodrigo’s clever use of melody and cadence in her latest song. He applies the tenets of Kodaly effortlessly within new and exciting contexts, exposing students to relevant and diverse artists in the Brisbane community (e.g. Topology and Jo Davie) and exploring current popular music trends, identifying commonalities between those trends and those of folk and art music genres. As Director of Creative Arts, Andrew’s students and colleagues are continually inspired by his creative problem solving and the high standard of musicianship he presents and receives from his students. He continually applies his deep understanding of recording and performance technologies to support students in establishing finished and fully realised products to reflect real-life music making contexts, across multiple music applications. This is championed by his own contributions to the popular music community, producing songs with his wife, Mardi. Their latest Album ‘Slow Emotion’, in which he produces, performs, writes, and arranges, has involved him exploring sound production and editing completely through his laptop and collaborating with international producers. Andrew has long contributed to the Kodaly music education community, with participants in his workshops appreciating his fresh take on folk repertoire. He is a regular presenter and teacher within KMEIA’s network, teaching at Cuskelly Summer School (2010-11; 2019; 2020) and presenting workshops on composition techniques and repertoire selection. Andrew has a unique ability to use Kodaly’s pedagogical framework to seamlessly move between contemporary and traditional musical contexts and immerse all around him in quality meaningful repertoire and experiences. Sparking passion and joy in colleagues and students alike, Andrew translates Kodaly’s principles to a 21st century context to support vibrant and engaging musical learning.

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