It’s only Monday….

…but my brain already feels a bit mushy. Today and tomorrow I am at the Orchestra. No projects to lead this week so time to be in the office and catch up on administrative tasks – designing content and structure for forthcoming projects.

K (the magnificent new Education Manager) and I feel a bit like we are capsizing in white water – strong swimmers both, doing our best to keep our heads above water, but struggling against the strength of the currents that are pulling us in all directions. What would the Taoists say? Go with the flow of the current, don’t fight it, let it take you where it will. I am not sure how this wisdom applies to our overworked environment just now…!

We certainly have some interesting work coming up. Soon we will start workshops for our residency project, at a primary school in the Western suburbs. This is a pilot project for the State Government’s arts funding body, and there is a focus on improved education and school outcomes, rather than just on making the arts happen in the school.

We had a meeting there today. I have identified five strands of work that aim to respond to the information we are getting about the school, its community, and its current priorities:

  • Classroom workshops for each class in the school, demonstrating different orchestral instruments and leading the students in some whole-group music activities using voices, body percussion and compositional ideas;
  • Skills workshops, which students in years 3-6 can nominate to take part in. We will offer three different skills workshops (each running across three sessions) in hand drums (particularly Middle Eastern drums, responding to a significant population in the school); tuned percussion (the school owns, but doesn’t often use, a diverse collection of tuned instruments); and singing – particularly singing in parts. Teachers will be invited to take part in these skill-based workshops too, so that they too learn new skills and can continue the groups after the residency has finished.
  • Teacher Professional Development (PD) – we will design and lead an after-school PD course fr teachers, in which they will learn specific techniques for getting composing happening in primary school classrooms. They will also be asked to commit to running their own music activities with their classes following each PD session, so that they immediately put into practice what they are learning, and so that by the end of it they will have developed a unit of work for classroom music.
  • Composition projects, 2 days in length. We will run four of these, with four different classes. Each one will culminate with a performance of the music composed by the students, somewhere in the local community.
  • Evening workshops for musicians of all ages from the local community. These sessions will develop further the material composed by the students in their workshops in school, and lead towards a large-scale community performance involving children, parents, teachers, local musicians and members of the Orchestra.

In the afternoon I went through the Orchestral roster to find dates on which all of these activities and workshops can happen. Then I entered the dates (and all the other project dates we have for 2008) onto a spreadsheet. It is pretty scary stuff. Do we have enough musicians to take part in all this work? (Only a small percentage of full-time players from the Orchestra work on the program – most find it ‘not their cup of tea’). Do K and I have enough time to manage all these projects and ensure they are set up properly? Possibly not.

Then, there is funding that we have received for more projects that don’t yet have dates assigned to them. Sigh….. deep breath…. this happened last year too. It will all fit. It will all get done.

For now, though, K and I are looking forward to a time when we might be able to just cruise for a little while in our jobs!

Me cruising, on the rocks in Dubrovnik

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