Joel Copeland

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

Nominated by Katharine Finlayson

Joel Copeland currently holds the position of Director (Co-curricular) at Canberra Girls Grammar School, following on from the establishment of the Music Academy in the role of Dean of Music. Prior to this, he was employed at Radford College where he was Head of Music and Director of Choirs. Joel holds a Master of Education (Educational Leadership), a Bachelor of Education (Secondary Music), has been an exponent of the Kodály philosophy throughout his teaching career and in 2015, received the Australian Kodály Certificate in Secondary Music Education. He is a regular presenter at conferences and workshops around the country and is an accredited Australian Kodaly Certificate lecturer. In 2016, Joel obtained an Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management through the Australian Institute of Management and in 2021 was certified by the Teacher Quality Institute as a Lead Teacher. He has directed bands, orchestras and ensembles across all year levels and has a strong passion for choral music. Joel’s experience in leadership and governance extended to his role as a Director of the Radford College Board in 2016. With experience teaching students from Pre-Kindergarten through to Year 12 as well as adult music learners in a community setting, Joel believes that music education should be made accessible to all and above all else, music learning should be fun and engaging. In 2010, Joel spent 18 months in the UK as the Assistant Director of Music at Kent College, Canterbury. Joel also undertook a 4 year term as the National President of the Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia (KMEIA Inc.) and is also a past President of the ACT Music Educators Network (ACTMEN). Joel was involved in the Music Australia delegation to Parliament House in 2017 and has previously held positions on the National Council of the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME). 

Response to Selection Criteria
Joel Copeland is a highly innovative and nationally regarded leader dedicated to the provision of professional learning in Kodály music education. Through Joel’s forward thinking and inclusive approach the Australian and international Kodály communities have had increased access to inspiring ideas in music education. Through the recent challenging years of Covid 19 Joel’s work has brought our music education communities closer and our networks have been strengthened. Joel’s personal commitment to the highest quality of music education for all of our students has been evident through the innovative opportunities he has provided.

In 2018, Joel was appointed to the role of convenor of the 2020 Kodály Australia Conference. Joel brought strong leadership and a fresh perspective to the planning of this major event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joel and the conference committee made the decision to postpone the conference until 2022.

In lieu of holding this national event, Joel led the planning and delivery of the 2020 Kodály Australia Virtual Summit, one of the first national music professional learning events held online due to the pandemic. The Summit included keynote presentations from international educators, live and recorded musical performances, messages of support from the Federal Education Minister, Hungarian Ambassador and the Governor General’s wife as well as workshop sessions focussed on a range of topics from primary, early childhood and secondary methodology, choral, musicianship and games. Each of the workshop sessions led the over 300 delegates through specific teaching strategies relevant to Kodály music education. In leading the vision for this event and implementation of the initiative, Joel was directly responsible for leading colleagues to improve student learning and outcomes using expert knowledge.

Joel worked closely with the Music Ed Net team to facilitate the online delivery of the Summit. Key Note speakers, presenters and delegates connected remotely from many locations across Australia and internationally. The planning for the Summit was impressive with many of the normal benefits and features of a live conference event achieved digitally through Joel’s innovative and flexible approach. Professional dialogue was facilitated with delegates encouraged to ask questions via the live chat function throughout each of the pre-recorded sessions with the presenters live on the chat line to type back responses as the session was played. At the end of each session, Joel then hosted a live Q and A with each presenter where he asked moderated questions from delegates that had been typed into the chat line. Joel organised a series of breakout sessions during the Summit where delegates had the opportunity to engage in professional dialogue via zoom with a focus on remote learning. The committee recorded these sessions in order to facilitate the review of the Summit and to use the feedback to inform planning for the 2022 Kodály Australia Conference. Joel selected high profile music educators to moderate discussion in these breakout rooms and to ensure the quality of the discussion was of the highest standard and informed by current research.

Joel is now leading the planning and delivery of the 2022 Kodály Australia Conference ‘Spring into Song: Sustaining the Vision’ as Conference Convenor. He is bringing the same clarity of vision to the planning of this event which aims to celebrate our diversity of culture and educational contexts as well as new growth and innovation, reimagining Kodály’s vision and its application in Australia today.

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