Tuning into a new world

Matraville Soldiers' Settlement School students and their special guests.

At Matraville Soldiers' Settlement School, the students love their music with a passion.

"Quite simply, music has made a huge difference to their lives," Matraville principal Maurice Johnston said.

"It's not only about opening up a new world to them.

"It's about working as a team, deep learning about musical concepts through having fun and seeing the students' confidence bloom.

"We are seeing improvements in their NAPLAN results in all areas.

"This is one of many strategies that are engaging students to achieve these learning successes."

The power of music

For the past five years, Rachel Scott, a cellist and music educator with the Australian Children's Music Foundation (ACMF), has been holding weekly music classes.

"It's a different school since the program began," Mr Johnston said. Ms Scott agreed.

"If they've had a good music lesson, they walk taller," she said.

Over the years, the school had been visited by many world-class musicians, and in May a string quartet from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, along with its artistic director, Richard Tognetti, performed for the students.

After the performance, Mr Tognetti and the ACO musicians stayed and worked with the students on a composition for strings, xylophones, chime bars and thongaphones that Ms Scott and the children had been working on.

"Music isn't just for elite schools - it's for everyone," Mr Johnston said.

"There is no other forum, in my experience after 28 years of teaching, which is as sustained and creative as the ACMF in providing quality musical learning experiences for children."

An opportunity for all

For Don Spencer, who founded the ACMF in 2002, "the joy, passion and involvement of the children with the orchestra showed how inspirational music is in children's lives. All children should have the opportunity to participate in music".

"Music is a vital part of our lives and inspires creativity, imagination, self expression, self esteem and discipline."

But perhaps the best words came from the students.

"Classical music makes me feel happy and I want to listen to it all day," school captain Natasha Penitani said.

Fellow Year 6 student Shane Allende agrees: "I love music because you get to express how you feel in song and it makes you feel happy."


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