It is with a heavy heart that I inform members of the passing of Margaret Smith (KMEIA Honorary Life Member).
Julie Logan has kindly provided some beautiful words about Margaret’s life.
Margaret made the big things possible. We’ve lost someone really special. But her voice is with us forever.
Margaret built a distinguished career combining her considerable intellect, musical talent combined with her generosity of spirit, love of teaching and insatiable drive for life-long learning. She drew people to her and once a friend, remained so for life – always making time, sharing her wit and wisdom. She was indefatigable and I’ve always envied her stamina, particularly her ability to simultaneously work hard and play hard.
Whilst working for over 10 years at Ravenswood Girls School at Gordon, producing many concerts she also undertook Dalcroze training. Her Dalcroze colleagues Carol Ann Bentley and Sandra Nash relish the memory of,
“Margaret joining Heather Gell’s evening Eurhythmics class in the 1970s when they all had to wear black leotards and tights to class.” For anyone who knew how elegant Margaret always looked, you’ll need to take a moment to digest that image!
Margaret taught the Kodaly component of the Methods course with Sandra Nash at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for over 15 years. After moving to Somersby on the Central Coast of NSW, Margaret set up the first ever and highly successful Kodaly Early Childhood programs at both the Newcastle and Central Coast Conservatoriums. It’s important to understand there hadn’t been a sequenced EC program at either of these institutions and the effort and dedication in setting them up was significant. Using her considerable persuasive powers, Margaret set about convincing the executives of both tertiary institutions of the value of a sequential aural based program, writing and teaching the new curriculum, and training new teachers.
Maybe it comes from wrangling 5 children, but Margaret was a strong leader, motivating us to always improve our skills and building a cohesive team to guide the program to enormous success. Under her leadership, Newcastle Conservatorium alone grew from 20 students to over 500 in 8 years.
Not one to be idle, in her “spare” time, Margaret completed further highly demanding studies for the 3 year Australian Kodaly Certificate and Research Masters of Music Education at Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I’m pretty sure this had nothing to do with keeping an eye on her youngest son, Simon, who happened to be studying there too, and she thoroughly enjoyed the fact they both graduated on the same day: Margaret with her Masters of Music Education and Simon with his Bachelor of Music Education. Her thesis was titled: A Study of the Musical Preferences of Pre School Children – An examination of the effects of the learning environment on the extension of listening parameters.
Following in Deanna Hoermann’s footsteps, Margaret and Ann Davidson were board members of the National Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia where she served for at least 20 years – in the days before skype when meetings took all weekend all over Australia.
Margaret’s legacy to Kodaly Music Education in NSW is incomparable as she reinvigorated the NSW branch in the 1990’s.
Her drive was contagious and for a number of years it could have been re-named the Smith Committee as Alan kept the books and Mary Jayne and Simon supported her work. We have Margaret to thank for founding and teaching the first Kodaly Course in Sydney. She then continued to manage the registrations for the course, delivered the course, housed and fed visiting staff as well as many of the students and baked morning teas for another 10 years.
In 2003 Margaret, along with Peter Whiteman and Mary Jayne Smith, convened the 16th International Kodaly Symposium at Ourimbah campus, a significant international event which worked to put NSW Kodaly on the map in Australia.
She wrote the first drafts of the National Early Childhood Teacher Training course and doggedly worked for years with the Institute of Teachers to ensure NSW teachers would have their Kodaly training hours recognised by the Department of Education & Training.
Margaret, apparently effortlessly, made all of us feel supported in every way: as mentor, colleague, stand-in mother and friend. She took people under her wing, remembering every detail of their love-life, families or concerns. She nurtured our friendships and created community and always loved a good chat. She will be greatly missed by all.