In February, MVA visited Elizabeth Downs Primary School to observe musicians working with students who have volunteered to participate in group guitar lessons and percussion ensembles.
One such school is Elizabeth Downs Primary Schools, a category 1 school located in the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide. SA has a scale of disadvantage with 7 being the most advantaged and 1 being the most disadvantaged. Elizabeth Downs PS's community is complex due to its cultural, educational and social diversities. The Principal cites 100 different cultural backgrounds represented in the school.
The School is one of the Primary Intensive English Language Centres in South Australia offering the Intensive English Language Program. This provides support to students from non-English speaking backgrounds to ensure that their students learn sufficient English to access learning in a Mainstream classroom and gain confidence to live in their new community. It is an integral part of the school with all students engaged in a variety of whole school programs. Through this program, the cultural diversity of the student cohort is acknowledged and valued and it build cross-cultural and intercultural knowledge and understanding across the school and community.
During MVA’s visit to this school over 2 days, students from years 3 to 6 were invited to apply to participate in weekly group guitar lessons and weekly percussions ensembles. Over 45 students gathered each day at lunch time to try guitar and percussion and sign up for the weekly activity. Students were enthusiastic participants and eager to start straight away. What was noticeable was the number of students who did not speak English, some with other students interpreting for them when the musician was explaining about what would happen in the coming weeks. But when it came time to participate in the activities, it was clear that the English language was not needed for the students to make music.
The teacher noted that one student had only been at the school for 2 weeks and did not speak English but he had volunteered to come and join the percussion ensemble. It was clear from his face how much he enjoyed doing the percussion activities with the group and he was able to easily join in just by watching and listening. She was so pleased that there was an activity that he was not prevented from doing straight away because he was not able to speak the language and that it was instantly connecting him with all the other children.
This long-term residency will involve 50 students in percussion ensemble activities each week and 18 students in weekly group guitar lessons. All 300 students will receive the MVA Live Performance Plus program each year and professional development will be provided for the staff to teach classroom music. A selection of new instruments and music software will be delivered to the school and composers will work intensively with students to compose music.
*The SA schools who will receive residency programs this year are Alberton Primary, Aldinga Beach B-7 School, Elizabeth Downs Primary and Elizabeth South Primary.