Music moves my world

It’s the midpoint of the school year – the middle of the mid-school-year holidays in fact, but ‘on holidays’ is the last thing I feel! Lots of projects on the go, lots of projects finishing and others starting. My mind is whirling with music and ideas most of the time, and in some ways I want to keep up the pace, just to get everything out and realised. But it is also a good time to take stock and reflect on the range of things I’ve been doing, what I’ve been learning and what I’ve been inspired and moved by.

My last posts were about my first visit to the immigration detention centre two Saturdays ago. Illness (my own – last weekend) and public protests (at the detention centre, leading to a lockdown – today) have meant I have not been able to progress the projects any further as yet. However, I’ve spent quite a bit of time developing ideas in response to the participants’ requests for songs and instruments on my first visit. I’ve been learning two of the songs they suggested and I’ve also sourced a harmonium, in response to a request from one of the participants. I hope he knows how to play this – my own attempts this afternoon were unconvincing! I’ve also lined up a volunteer who will join me at the centre for the workshops each week. We’ll have a repertoire of four songs initially, each which we can extend with improvisation if we choose – two songs from Afghanistan, Lambada (why not? They all knew it and obviously liked it! It is an international anthem these days), and a song from Australia (again, as requested by the participants) with a link to indigenous Australia.

The last week of term 2 was a week of project endings. At the Language School we presented each of the three class’ compositions at the end-of-term performance, and it was another memorable and moving concert. Memorable because of the quality of the children’s performances and the learning journeys taken by some of the students in particular, and moving because of the ‘farewell’ element, saying good-bye to those students who are now ready to make the move to mainstream school. Sixteen students (out of 39) received certificates.

Lower Primary sparkled as they sang their song inspired by prepositions and directional language (“Hey you, where’s my shoe?”). Middle Primary gave us lumps in our throats with their song about friendship and feeling ‘happy on the inside’, and Upper Primary drew us all into the fun and energy of their rap/dance/song “It’s all about love”, which included audience participation of singing and clapping off-beats, stadium-rock style.

At Pelican Primary School, the stand-out class was the Grade 4/5, who played through their class rendition of California Dreamin’ not just once but four times! They sang in two parts, and maintained the accompaniment on the xylophones and tambourine. This level of musical independence and confidence was fantastic as it allowed me to concentrate on my guitar part, which is still at that fragile stage of needing my full attention. “Well done to us!” I told them at the end. “We just performed the whole song all by ourselves, without any help from the CD. That’s a big achievement!” Their teacher nodded in agreement. They left the music room very pleased with themselves, and singing all the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown) at the top of their voices.

I never got to finish my project at Darling Secondary College. The residency is not going to be continued next term and the teacher decided to end it in the second-last week of term. I felt sad for the students – we didn’t get to complete the projects we’d been developing, or perform them to anyone else, and they’d done so much up to that point! It was disappointing not to be able to say good-bye.

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