The Mercy of Music earns Sister Anne an OAM
HER dedication to music teaching and the Catholic Church has led to Sr Anne Gallagher being recognised in the Australia Day honours with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Sr Anne learnt piano from the Sisters of Mercy in the same room at the Maclean Convent she now teaches music to hundreds of children 50 years later.
"It's one of the things I'm most proud of," she said.
"One of the aims the Sisters Of Mercy had was to teach music in the community, and I've been able to continue to teach here in a place that they have been teaching in since 1898."
Teaching first at St Cecilia's in Grafton for 10 years from 1973, Sr Anne moved to the Maclean Convent of Mercy in 1984 as the principal music teacher and has overseen the growth over the past 30 years.
"When I first started I was just teaching in a little room in the convent," she said.
"Now there is a real demand for music teaching that we've expanded into the three rooms, and when the Sisters Of Mercy moved out in the early 2000's we've expanded again right through the old convent."
It was around this time that Sr Anne tested an idea from training for music therapy by seeing if there was interest in a musical program for preschool.
"I put up a poster one day at the start of a school year, and the first lesson three people turned up, then there were five people," she said.
"Now there's 35 or even 55 two days a week - and it's the absolute best time of the year."
Sr Anne said the experience was something that developed her viewpoint on music; that while there was an element in music training that was about being skilful and performing well, music was there to be fun.
"We always say we play music, so why not let them play - playing is all about having fun and I think that's what they respond to," she said.
"It has been a good life, and I'm very honoured for the award."