Music engages students

September 29, 2017

Students with their 'Frankenstein' instrument.

Benalla P-12 students have taken part in a unique musical experience at Melbourne’s world-class Recital Centre.

The opportunity was arranged as part of the recital centre’s outreach program with Year 7 Hands On Learning students and a group of Year 4s.

Hands On Learning is an initiative run in association with the Tomorrow Today Foundation that encourages students to undertake hands-on maintenance and construction projects around their school and local communities.

Led by a dedicated group of musicians, the Ad Lib Collective, the children built instruments using everyday materials found in their homes and sheds.

Among their creations was a percussion instrument known as the Frankenstein table, which looks like it would be at home in a science laboratory, and a shovel guitar.

Benalla P-12 Hands On Learning teacher Pip Rowe said students became creative, building instruments from basic items, which was what the program was all about.

‘‘The Frankenstein table was a great one, they got a big board and looked for anything they could attach to make a scary noise,’’ Ms Rowe said.

‘‘They found junk around the metal room and hung things up that they could clunk and that became part of the percussion section.’’

As well as making the instruments the recital centre program offered students the experience of creating, listening to and performing music.

Research shows that children benefit emotionally, intellectually, socially and even physically from the shared experience of live music.

Students were also introduced to composing a piece of music and learning about the different sections of an orchestra.

As well as developing musically, teachers commented that many of the students had increased in confidence and improved their problem-solving and leadership skills.

In an engaging finale to the program participating students spoke about their instruments and performed a range of compositions for an audience of parents, students, teachers and funding partners.

Ms Rowe said the students’ favourite part of the program was playing drums, which they made using upturned buckets.

‘‘They learnt a piece of drumming music and all the kids got to play at the end of the program, it was very strong rhythmically,’’ she said.

The grand finale is still to come, with a concert by the students being planned at the recital centre next term.

In addition to their work with students, the Ad Lib Collective ran workshops for local educators, including primary school teachers, kinder teachers and Tomorrow Today’s early years staff.

Benalla was selected for this two-year pilot project thanks to a partnership with the Tomorrow Today Foundation and with funding support from the William Buckland Foundation.

The Melbourne Recital Centre is likely to extend the program to other disadvantaged communities in future years.

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