Approximately one in every five Australian school children is reached by a major performing arts company education programs each year. The companies, recognising the importance of active arts engagement for young people work closely with schools and communities across Australia to develop and deliver vibrant arts education programs.
An innovative country is one that embraces and nurtures creativity and social cohesion and what better way to achieve this than ensuring all school age children have access to a quality arts education.
AsRichard Gill AO puts it “..it is through participation in arts subjects that the mind, imagination, spirit and soul of a child are stimulated. Through this stimulation comes a bonus in all other areas of learning. Music, for example, when it is properly taught, requires an extraordinarily high level of listening and concentration from the student. It requires the student to have a capacity to work in the abstract, an ability to work across several skill areas simultaneously and the ability to rationalise this verbally.
All of our MPAs have strong education programs providing expertly curated and curriculum related programs to local, regional, remote and even international communities. There are many examples and a multitude of approaches- here we highlight a small number of music education programs and workshops taking place around the country.
In early May, the Melbourne Sydney Orchestra held its annualEducation Week. Pre-school children had the chance to play with MSO musicians with slightly older children taken on a musical adventure while school aged children were able to meet a host of characters in a meet the orchestra program. This year, more than 950 students and teachers from low socio-economic schools attended concerts.
Recently, a quartet from theAustralian Chamber Orchestra collaborated with Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir in Cairns. As part of the program, each member of the quartet worked with a small group of choristers to create a composition based on a selection of quotes taken from Stan Grant’s speech on Racism and the Australian Dream.
In South Australia the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra engaged a local composer to compose a 30 minute work based upon the Australian children’s book,The Bush Concert. The touring performances ofThe Bush Concert were designed to complement primary school performing arts and literacy, covering all five arts subjects, and other cross-curricular links
The West Australian Symphony Orchestra’ sCrescendo is an ongoing music education program, providing free music lessons on a weekly basis to all pre-primary, Year 1 and Year 2 students. The program seeks to empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds through music, using it as a tool to help them reach their full potential and learn life values.
But it’s not all about primary school students. Older students are also the beneficiaries of the MPAs activities in the education sector. In a professional development program, the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra’sThe Composers Project provided young Tasmanian composers in grades 11 and 12 with tuition and professional musicians resulting in new compositions for two or three instruments. more info
It’s also about extending our cultural engagement through arts education internationally - Musica Viva’sFiddlesticks ensemble recently returned from an extensive tour of Hong Kong, visiting 16 schools and performing to over 4,000 students. This is important work to undertake, building relationships with our neighbours in South East Asia and providing quality arts experiences with a distinct Australian flavour to young people from different cultures.
Last month, in the South China city of Guangzhou, an ensemble of20 Sydney Symphony Orchestra musicians held a day of musical workshops and rehearsals with senior students at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music. As well as an important relationship building exercise with China, two principal SSO artists auditioned students at the Shanghai Orchestra Academy for the opportunity to travel to Sydney later this year to perform with the Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. This reciprocal program is an excellent example of collaboration and cultural diplomacy in action.