Some of my projects are, or have been, running for several years or more. You’ll find many posts referring to:
MSO ArtPlay Ensemble (Open Workshops and 2-day projects)
The MSO ArtPlay Ensemble is a group of 28 children aged 9-13 years, joined by 4 Melbourne Symphony Orchestra musicians and directed by me. It meets every school holidays to create and perform a new piece of music, taking inspiration from an orchestral work.
The group is formed every year and we select participants through the free Open Workshops that are held every February at ArtPlay. The Ensemble program is a partnership between the MSO and ArtPlay, started in 2006 during my time with the orchestra as its Creative Director of the Community Outreach program.
Filed under Programs and MSO ArtPlay Ensemble.
City Beats is another partnership project between ArtPlay and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra that I lead. Four schools sign up for the year, and spend half a day each term at ArtPlay with me and a group of MSO musicians. We explore a particular theme, with the aim of getting the children playing a range of percussion and ‘found object’ instruments, and composing their own music.
City Beats is for ‘disadvantaged’ schools, which generally refers to those in lower socio-economic areas where there are high levels of new arrival families, ESL, unemployment, and public housing. Many schools in this category have extremely limited access to arts education and can rarely bring their students into the city for excursions or unique experiences. City Beats is therefore fully subsidised, including the bus transport from the school to ArtPlay.
Filed under Programs and City Beats, as well as music education, project ideas, and Teaching music creatively.
The Language School
Quite a lot of my blog posts between 2007 and 2012 refer to a place called ‘The Language School’. The work I did there has had a big impact on my teaching artist practice over all. I learned a huge amount, receiving as much as I gave, from the students as well as from the teachers I worked alongside.
In the State of Victoria, newly-arrived immigrant and refugee children can attend New Arrivals English Language School program for 4-12 months, in order to build up their spoken English and literacy skills, and help them adjust to Australian school culture and expectations. Some of the students who enrol have had age-equivalent schooling in their country of origin, but many new arrivals have had severely interrupted prior schooling – perhaps no prior schooling at all – and for them, the transition and acquisition of new skills can be an enormous, confronting and frightening challenge.
I worked as a Teaching Artist at one of these ‘Melbourne English Language Schools’ from 2005 to the end of 2012. My workshops there focused on composition, percussion ensemble playing, songwriting and singing, through which the children developed their understanding of English but also engaged in fun, social, creative activities. These characteristics are vital, as they allow different children to shine and have successful school experiences. This creates positive, affirming experiences of school and learning that will give the children confidence for their eventual transition to mainstream school.
I love the artistic challenges that this environment offers. It is such an intense time for the children, and the teachers in the school take great care to offer emotional support when it is needed. Many of my posts from this project reflect on teaching and learning strategies, and stories from the field. This school was the setting for my Master of Education research, so many of the posts in 2007-8 draw upon my research reflections. I keep the school name anonymous for privacy reasons.
Language School projects are filed under Residencies and Language School, as well as ESL, literacy, oral language, visual cues, Dance, Project ideas, and Teaching Music Creatively.
Pelican Primary School
From 2009 until the end of 2012 I taught music 1-2 days a week at a local primary (elementary) school with a majority ESL/EAL cohort (90% Horn of Africa students, others from SE Asia, and Australia). It’s a lively and demanding school environment, and many of the teaching challenges that arise at the Language School also play out at Pelican Primary School, albeit with different solutions due to a very different school environment.
Filed under Residencies and Pelican PS.