Music and Wellness

Music has contributed to the wellbeing of the community outside of formal certified courses, throughout the history of the university. Choral societies and clubs have been central to this activity. Glee Clubs, or small choirs, were active in the University from its earliest years, typically associated with the colleges of residence. The longest-standing college choir, the Choir of Trinity College, was created in 1934 from the reorganisation of the Trinity College Glee Club. College choirs exist in many of the university colleges, serving the liturgical needs of the chapels, and providing a rich opportunity for students and staff to participate in music together. 

Founded in 1884 to create a community for students of the University, the Student Union plays a significant role in supporting wellbeing and inclusivity, through Clubs and activities, many of which have a musical face. The Student Union affiliated club MUCS (Melbourne University Choral Society) recently celebrated its 80th year of activity. Student bands and performances have also played a significant part in musical life on campus for many decades. Student bands are often support acts to professional bands, in the ‘Bands, Bevs and BBQs’ weekly events held at the Student Union. The Rowden White Library, run by the University of Melbourne Student Union, has also been a place for students and staff to listen to recordings of music for leisure and pleasure, over many years.

Training in professional therapeutic music began at the University in 1978, with Australia’s first Music Therapy course.  Denise Erdonmez (Grocke) was appointed inaugural lecturer in 1980 to teach an undergraduate course, and subsequently expanded the program to include a graduate diploma in music therapy in 1990. Therapeutic approaches included singing, group improvisation, music and movement, and receptive music therapy. Since 2006, students have graduated with a Master of Music Therapy, trained to utilise music professionally for the purposes of wellbeing and therapeutic practices. Wellbeing of students is central to the undergraduate subject offered at the VCA, Wellbeing Orchestra, which explores Tibetan singing bowls and meditation.

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