Hello fellow educators. Here is the first in what I hope to be a regular blog on the strings program in our schools but on other exciting matters of motivational music education. I hope to also profile our excellent team of class and specialist teachers.
I would like to start by reflecting on the inspiring and exciting Captivate Strings Showcase last Tuesday, 26th June 2012. The lead up to this event is the reason I have taken so long to get around to this Blog but also a great opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the achievement of our students and teachers in schools.
Afterwards, speaking with many of the audience: Principals, parents and of course the most important people, the students themselves; many were unaware of just how far we have come in just such a short time. For many of us, including myself, the Captivate Strings Showcase was a discovery, as much as a celebration of student achievement.
Unfortunately, the showcase was not filmed or recorded so we don’t have video or sound files. I will describe in brief some of the highlights – though I find it difficult to single out highlights as I believe every performance was spectacular in one way or another.
- Firstly – the performance by our 50 piece Captivate String Orchestra. This was announced as being a newly established orchestra but in fact, the Captivate String Orchestra was formed in Easter 2011 but had only 30 members. This year we expanded the orchestra and split it into the Blacktown CSO and the Penrith/Mountains CSO; each with about 25 members. The performance of “Pirates of the Caribbean” was spectacular but now that these students have learned how to work orchestra rehearsals and they have gained great motivation and skills from playing in this orchestra, we can now attempt much more repertoire and more challenging repertoire.
- All of the performances by each school orchestra/ensemble were spectacular in some way but I would like to single out 3 performances in particular. 1. The combined performance of “We Will Rock You” by Blessed John XXIII Primary, Parramatta Marist High Years 7 & 8 and St Andrew’s Primary School – musically, it was simple but for students that had very little or no prior learning, it was a highly effective performance that had the audience tapping their toes for some time afterwards. 2.”Largo from New World Symphony” Dvorak, performed by St Joseph’s Primary School Kingswood – a very nice arrangement from the new level 2 String Things books which is very effective if played nicely in tune and in time. This performance was all the more amazing because the Strings Thing class music program has only been in this school since term 2, 2011. At the beginning of last year all but a few students had not seen a violin or a cello before!Only one student in the school had prior learning with an outside teacher! The uptake of the program and motivation of these students at St Joseph’s Primary warrants a closer look at this model of implementation. 3. Andras Racz, one of our leading specialist and class teachers, texted the night before and said: “Phil, I have done an arrangement of the Czardas and rehearsed it with St Andrew’s Primary in the last 2 weeks”. Now, I know that Andras is an amazing teacher and performer and I know the children at St Andrew’s can learn very quickly but I was skeptical about inserting another item in the program at such late notice. I was wrong!!! True; Andras played the main lead part but a few students also played some of the lead part and it was an amazing and exciting performance.
- We enjoyed 2 wonderful solo performances: The Haydn Violin Concerto in G Major, 1st Movt, performed by Daniel from Delany College and the Vivaldi Guitar Concerto in D Major, 2nd Movt performed by Joshua from Patrician Brothers. Both performances were capably accompanied by our 10 member staff chamber orchestra. Daniel’s story is a special one as he has been learning violin for less than 3 years on a Captivate Scholarship. He also leads the Captivate String Orchestra and often helps and encourages younger string players – the sign of a good leader.
All of these learning stories demonstrate great self efficacy in our students’ learning and intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. This is something I would like to unpack a bit further in the lead up to our 2 upcoming workshops with Michael Griffin; a very motivational and inspiring music educator with a great interest in Intrinsic Motivation.
I believe that the best outcome of the 2012 Captivate Strings Showcase was that every single student left Presentation Hall at Nagle College on Tuesday night feeling a great sense of accomplishment, in the spirit of one of our stated aims of the String Things Program: “That no child should feel they have failed in music making”