Dr Anita Collins

Exploring the use of music education to enhance development and performance

Educator  |  Musician  |  Academic

Dr Anita Collins is an award winning Australian educator, academic and researcher in the area of music education, particularly in the impact of music education on cognitive development. Anita is a communicator, a conduit between neuroscientific researchers, music educators, musicians, parents and the general public, and works to update our understanding of the purpose and benefits of music education to overall cognitive development and health. Anita's expertise was recognised in 2016 when she was invited to join the project team for the OECD Education 2030 Framework.

Anita experiencing The Dome technology for measuring movement and sound connections at BRAMS Lab Montreal

Anita experiencing The Dome technology for measuring movement and sound connections at BRAMS Lab Montreal

In 2015 Anita was awarded the highly prestigious Barbara Matthews Churchill Fellowship to travel to the U.S. and Canada in 2016 to research ways that neuroscience researchers work with school and music programs.  

In 2014 Anita was involved with the TED.com network through two project; as author of a short animated film for TED Ed and as a presenter at TEDx Canberra. Both of these project have been very well received with the TED Ed film reaching over 30 million and TEDxTalk reaching over 1 million views to date. Anita has also writes regularly for national newspapers and features in radio interviews and television documentaries.

Anita is an innovative and highly awarded musical director. In 2014 Anita won two Canberra Area Theatre Awards for Best Musical Director for a School or Youth Production (Guys & Dolls) and the Orchestra won Best Orchestra in a School or Youth Production. The Orchestra also won the same award in 2012, with Anita as Music Director (Les Miserables). In 2015 Anita was Musical Director for Barnum: The Musical which was performed entirely in a circus tent. She was again nominated for a Canberra Area Theatre Award for Best Musical Director and the musical ensemble was nominated for Best Orchestra also.

In 2015 Anita was the creative leader behind of a world premiere work called the Goulburn Concerto by Sean O'Boyle AM. The work is a three movement concerto for professional violin soloists (Kirsten Williams SSO), a professional orchestral musicians (10 CSO members) and 20 Goulburn  Strings Projects beginner violinists. Anita also conducted the premiere in the Llewellyn Hall, ANU, Canberra These projects are as diverse as commissioning a new musical work (The Goulburn Concerto by Sean O’Boyle) to give disadvantaged child musicians the opportunity to perform with professional orchestras to measuring the benefits of music education through standardised test scores.

Anita as Musical Director of Barnum: The Musical - Photograph by William Hall

Anita as Musical Director of Barnum: The Musical - Photograph by William Hall

Anita is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Education at the University of Canberra, has been a Visiting Lecturer at the Australian National University and continues her long association with Canberra Grammar School. Anita has worked as a primary and secondary school music educator in both Australia and England. Currently Anita is working with arts professionals and schools on a number of research projects

Her work with pre-service generalist teachers led to Bedrock: Foundations in Music, Bedrock: Foundations of Drama and Bedrock: Foundations in Dance, three in a series of workbooks for adult learners in arts literacy for generalist teachers.

Her doctoral study, through the University of Melbourne, focused on neuroscience and music education and is titled Bigger, Better Brains: Neuroscience, music education and the pre-service early childhood and primary (elementary) generalist teacher. Anita has won the inaugural Music Trust Award for Research into the Benefits of Music Education in 2014, awarded the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) Early Career Researcher Excellence Award and the UC Dean’s Award for Excellence in 2009 for her research into the curriculum redesign and the NSW Teacher’s Guild Research Award in 2005 for her research into boys music education.

Anita is a member of the Music Australia Advisory Group, the Music Trust Research Panel, Director of ReWire, a not-for-profit foundation raising money for music and neuroplasticity research and Board member for Raising Hope, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to mentoring young people.

B.Mus (ANU), Grad Dip Ed (UC), MEd (Deakin), PhD (Melbourne)

B.Mus (ANU), Grad Dip Ed (UC), MEd (Deakin), PhD (Melbourne)

Dr Collins’ presentation has inspired me to challenge the teachers and administration staff at my school, even though they are very supportive of the music program. It reminded me to continue to be a strong advocate for music education to the parents.
— Music educator (ASME WA Summer School)
This is a quick message to congratulate you on your work ... I can’t wait to check out your text and your website. Thank you, Thank you!
— Barbara (Northern Michigan University)
I must confess I’m as guilty as most parents of failing to provide feedback even when it’s deserved. But to do so in this instance [band performance of The Pines of Rome in the round] would be the equivalent of walking past a Rembrandt.
— Parent of young musician (Canberra, Australia)
I think your [TED Ed] film is brilliant. As a college music professor, I am forever looking for new ways to explain the importance of music to the development of intelligence to my students, both majors and non-majors, as well as to community educators and leaders. Your video will help advance my efforts. Thank you!
— Melissa (Texas, U.S.)
I am a doctor who retired from medical practice to pursue a different career and now I am doing a graduate program in music education. Two of my classes talked about this [TED Ed lesson] and it was really exciting for me. Wonderful job!
— Kathy (Oregan, U.S.)
Just watched your TEDx Talk. WOW - a message that has been close to my heart [and] so wonderfully presented ... Thank you for choosing to make THAT your talk
— Winfired (Australia)