Gaby Freer

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

Nominated by Alexandra Dalman

A native of Switzerland, Gaby started performing and teaching from a young age. Graduating from Canton of Zurich with a Diploma of Education, then continuing her study at Zurich Conservatorium, Gaby sought every opportunity to embed music into her teaching. Since moving to Australia, her influence has quickly been felt in all parts of South Australia, from the Festival of Music choirs, instrumental music lessons, establishing her own early childhood music education school, Do-Re-Mi, and teaching music education in classrooms and universities.   

Gaby’s passion for early childhood education has continued, seeing her successfully complete the Australian Kodály Certificate in Music Education, studying at the prestigious Holy Names University in California. Gaby is a sought-after presenter and mentor in Australia, being one of the Lead Mentors in Richard Gill’s inaugural National Music Mentoring Program, and working with associations and universities including, ANCA, Kodály SA, Flinders University and Uni SA. Currently Gaby is working as a Music Education Network Field Officer for the Music Education Strategy – Department for Education South Australia and is the President of Kodály SA.  

Response to Selection Criteria
Gaby Freer is an experienced music educator whose contribution to and impact on Australian Kodály-inspired music education and the education community are a testament to her personal teaching and music excellence. For Gaby, Music Education is an art form that she consistently and effectively shares as a model for others.

1. Demonstrated personal teaching and musical excellence
Gaby revels in the process of engaging with educators and students and giving them the very best gift possible—the gift of learning in a Music Educational context. Gaby’s passion for high quality music education is infectious. Educators travel from around South Australia to learn from her, to watch her teach, and to see her passion in action. I have the privilege of working with her every day and know that these aren’t empty statements. Each day that Gaby wakes, she is thinking, who can I help, how can I connect with more teachers, and share the good news, that is of a Kodály -inspired Music Education.

2. Demonstrated contribution of work to Australian Kodály-inspired music education and/or the Kodály Australia community
Currently Gaby works full time as a Music Education Network Field Officer, whose sole responsibility is to mentor at the ‘grass roots’ – in the classroom – with educators and site leaders, modelling excellent practice and sharing current research about the value of Music Education and the role it plays in an educational and learning context. Gaby also demonstrates this in her role as President of Kodály SA. Since becoming President, Gaby has improved the connections of Kodály SA with key stakeholders, ensuring that Kodály SA is the epicentre of all Music Education and mentoring in South Australian Music Education. This is because she knows that Kodály -inspired Music Education is absolute best practice, underpinning the learning experiences of all students and teachers.

3. Demonstrated impact of work on Australian Kodály-inspired music education and/or the Kodály Australia community
Within her role as a MENFO, Gaby has personally connected with over 800 educators, working in schools, partnerships and portfolios, offering Professional Development and mentoring. Through this experience, she has built strong connections with The Department for Education and Kodály SA, with the Department for Education outsourcing its large professional development courses to Kodaly SA. It was Gaby who created this platform and others for a large number of educators to directly engage with the Australian Kodaly Certificate, offered here in South Australia.

4. Potential model for others
Gaby’s passion focuses particularly in Early Years, as she knows that it is here, that a Kodály -inspired Music Education allows students to flourishes in all learning especially pre-literacy. Sound before Symbol. Foundational years is her passion. She is always offering resources, singing books, instruments that consolidate a Kodály inspired Music Education. Through her vast experience, Gaby knows which resources work well within certain classroom contexts. Seeing her teach is a work of art. She has unruly 4-year-old children eating out of the palm of her hand, no matter where she goes. Why? Because she has tested Kodály -inspired resources, programming, transitions and sequencing, and knows and has proven that this is best practice. Classroom behaviour, learning difficulties, speech delays, children with special needs, are just a few of the regular classroom challenges that Gaby is expert at. She does not shy away from classroom and educators that have curly questions surrounding a differentiated classroom, because she knows the answers are found within a Kodály -inspired Music Education context. Quoting from Forrei to Klinger, she carries her ‘bibles’ around with her, and is always lending them out, until the site can purchase them for themselves. Every time I speak with Gaby, she is looking for ways for more educators to engage with Kodály SA, and a Kodály- inspired Music Education because she believes that it is best practice, pedagogically and philosophically. Gaby is an outstanding representative for Kodály Music Education Institute of Australian, here in South Australia, as she always has and continues to breathe the magic of a Kodály inspired Music Education in spoken word and song.

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