Home' Teacher : December 2009 Contents 14 TEACHER DECEMBER 2009
de Zilwa explains. 'Song, dance and per-
cussion allow them to shine and show their
'Our students get an opportunity to
perform for the school, which is great
for their confidence. They learn to work
cooperatively together, to share, and pro-
duce a group event to a high standard.
Students feel empowered: they have fun,
learn cooperation and coordination, and get
a sense of the rhythm of the new language.'
The extended engagement between The
Song Room and WELS has so far included
the staging of two full musical productions,
The Lion King andRomeo andJuliet.Shuey,
who was the driving force behind the pro -
ductions, believes that as well as helping stu-
dents develop confidence, music skills and
language skills, The Song Room program
has promoted teamwork among teachers,
acting as an anchor for a range of teaching
and learning activities across the school.
Closing the gap
The Song Room provides free music and
creative arts education and performance
programs for disadvantaged children across
Australia. Recognised both by Prime Min-
ister Kevin Rudd and Commonwealth Min-
ister for Education and Deputy-PM Julia
Gillard, the philanthropic not-for-profit
organisation has won awards and plaudits
for its approach that targets disadvantage
and works with schools, communities, and
corporate and government partners to build
capacity for long-term sustainability.
It might come as a surprise to discover
that Caroline Aebersold, chief executive of
The Song Room, is not you r typical music
educator. In fact, Aebersold, a psychologist
by profession, is quick to point out that she
has no special qualifications or experience
in music at all. Instead, her interest is in the
power of music and creative arts education
to address social disadvantage and help dis-
advantaged communities 'close the gap.'
'The evidence on this is very clear,'
Aebersold explains. 'International research
has shown that participation in arts educa-
tion has a positive impact on social outcomes
such as classroom engagement, confidence,
and school retention rates, and educational
outcomes such as numeracy, literacy and
cross-disciplinary skills. Importantly, the
research shows that creative arts education
can improve engagement and outcomes for
the most disadvantaged.'
When Com monwealth Minister for
Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter
Garrett announced in April that the arts will
be included in the second stage of national
curriculum development, he echoed the
rationale of many advocates of arts educa-
tion when he spoke not only of the intrinsic
value of participation in the arts, but also
of the extrinsic benefits.
While the inclusion of the arts in the
national curriculum is a step for ward, its
equitable implementation will be a major
challenge. In 2005, the National Review of
School Music Education reported that as few
as23 per cent ofgovernment primary schools
in Australia have a specialist music teacher,
and primary school teachers spend on aver-
age between six and 12 hours in total on all
creative arts in their pre-service training.
Unfortunately, Australia's reputation as
a high-quality, low- equity education system
is as obvious when it comes to access to arts
education as it is when it comes to any other
area. Private and elite schools may trumpet
their quality music education programs in
glossy school prospectuses, but it's generally
those most in need of the positive outcomes
that arts education can bring who are miss-
ing out altogether.
Cate Blanchett as a support act?
The week after Kavisha Mazzella's visit
to Sacred Heart School, Melbourne's Fed-
eration Square is abuzz with the imminent
arrivalof Cate Blanchett to open a new per-
manent exhibition at the Australian Centre
for the Moving Image. A stone's throw away
at the stunning BMW Edge performance
space at Federation Square, a different kind
of bu zz accompanies the arrival of students
from Heatherhill Primary School, Sacred
Heart School and the Western English
Language Ser vice.
The students are here to watch a profes-
sional performance and also to participate
in a performance themselves. This interac-
tive performance focus is one of the defin-
ing qualities of The Song Room's programs,
with opportunities for students in disad-
vantaged schools to see some of Australia's
best professional performers in some of its
iconic venues, and themselves to experience
the pursuit of performance excellence in the
very same spaces.
Students from Heatherhill Primary kick
the morning off with teaching artist Zoë
Barry leading them through three songs.
As the group takes its position on stage, a
student explains that the lullabies they are
about to sing were written by the students
themselves. The Year 3 and 4 students aren't
at all daunted by the audience of around
400 children, teachers and parents, and
perform their compositions like seasoned
Next up is the choir from Sacred Heart
School. Led by teaching artist Virginia Bott
and accompanied by composer Kavisha
Mazzella on guitar, they fill the ultra-
modern space of BMW Edge with their
angelic rendering of 'Lacrime D'A m o r e .'
Bows taken and elated with their success,
they run off the stage to rapturous applause.
Last on the bill for the morning, a gang
of too-tall teenagers slinks down the steps,
boys in blue hoodies, girls in red, led by the
diminutive figure of their teacher, Chiharu
Shuey. As the WELS choir assembles, the
students hold sheets of paper with the words
to the song firmly in front of their faces.
Shuey raises her hands, the music starts
and the choir begins to sing Michael
Jackson's 'We are the World.' As they get
into the song, the girls begin to warm up and
sway to the music, but the boys keep their
song sheets stubbornly in front of their faces.
Suddenly as they finish the final verse
and the song kicks into its classic 1980s
key change, the choir flings away the song
sheets and the stage is illuminated with a
dozen, huge smiles as the students launch
themselves into an energetic dance routine
and belt out the final choruses.
Links Archive November 2009 February 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page