Reception to Celebrate the Centenary of the Australian Music Examinations Board
Directors of the Australian Music Examination Board – more familiarly known to all of us as the AMEB; Distinguished State Government Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a very great pleasure for me and Kaye to welcome you to Government House today – and at the outset, at this event for music lovers, I acknowledge and thank the Camerata String Quartet for their exquisite accompaniment to this evening’s reception.
For generations of students, mere mention of the AMEB evokes memories of the nervous candidate facing a panel of AMEB examiners in music, or speech and drama.
I was fortunate enough to have been one of those students, in both subjects, in the 1960s – and, I now unstintingly acknowledge, I was a candidate treated probably generously by the examiners – who by the way we all feared, or those of us with questionable talent feared!
I am pleased to say, however, that I not only survived the examination experience, but was awarded a Licentiate in Speech and Drama Australia and incidentally the Barbara Sisley Award for 1966, an award valued at $25.20, the amount paid in two instalments! Reflecting the passing of the years, I am told that $25.20 in 1966 is the equivalent, about 50 years on, of $313!
Now that was in the realm of speech and drama. The piano examiners, while encouraging, did not appear to see me as a future professional. I would like to attribute my paltry performance to having waited – trembling, in the winter cold – my examination always seeming to be in the winter months, on the Wickham Terrace verandah for protracted periods while the examiners consumed their coffee inside: my (tiny) fingers were frozen!
But I have proudly, if not recklessly, kept many of my AMEB reports and certificates, and I am delighted that the AMEB has kindly accepted, for display in the foyer of their Brisbane headquarters, the originals of these documents. I read them but once, perhaps at that time long ago, and with more disappointment than elation, but I hope the donation into the public domain will be seen as attended by a level of candour which matches that of the examiners! I think these documents do offer a snapshot of AMEB history.
That history now reaches back 100 years. For those ten decades, the AMEB has been a driving force in Australia in encouraging participation in music, and speech and drama, and in maintaining the highest standards in both.
The benefits for the Australian community have been many.
The AMEB’s exacting standards have been crucial preparation for those pursuing a career in music, where competition is inevitably fierce.
The AMEB has helped students to develop their skills and confidence in speech and drama, invariably an asset in later life.
I have retold the story of speech teacher, the late and revered Daphne Koemermann, who having watched a TV presentation in my judicial role, remarked to me: “Paul, your vowels are terrible!” She as you know was a long-term AMEB examiner. I not infrequently recall that admonition as I deliver speeches from this lectern! I have been a most grateful beneficiary of the disciplines instilled by the AMEB regime!
Then let it be acknowledged that while challenging students to meet high standards, the AMEB has at the same time also encouraged them with thoughtful, professional feedback, identifying strengths and weaknesses from which students could learn and improve – the reports with which I leave you tonight reflect that.
And the organisation has kept pace with the times. It now offers some tuition and examinations on-line, and its syllabuses now include musical theatre, and contemporary music through Rockschool.
Both as Governor and as a grateful beneficiary myself of the AMEB’s professionalism, I congratulate the AMEB on reaching this wonderful milestone.
I thank the pioneers who established the AMEB in 1918, and all those who have carried on their unstinting dedication to music and speech and drama, including successive and supportive Queensland Ministers for Education and all those receiving Certificates of Recognition this evening.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I wish the AMEB every possible future success in its continuing mission of supporting, inspiring and advancing a life-long engagement with creative endeavour in young Australians.