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School sustainability: Didge and Drumming at Shalvey Primary School

Shalvey Public School in Western Sydney has a high proportion (approximately one quarter) of Non English Speaking students, the largest groups being Pacific Islander (Samoan and Tongan) as well as high numbers of Indigenous students.

A Song Room Teaching Artist was engaged for an 18 month music and percussion workshop program at the school, catering for a number of classes a week for Years 3-6.

The program supported teachers and students to participate in school performances including school and stage assemblies. One of many highlights was a performance at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith, and further outcomes from the program included The Song Room identifying an impressively talented year 4 vocal student and supporting her further tuition in singing via a scholarship with the Australian Youth Choir.

The Song Room program concluded at the end of 2012, but Shalvey Public School are now able to sustain their appreciation of music and percussion by directly contracting a Song Room Teaching Artist Jesica Varela and a local Aboriginal artist, Joshua Toole, to run a weekly Didgeridoo and Drumming performance group.

Students from the didgeridoo group will have the chance to make and paint their own Mallee Eucalyptus didgeridoos, using traditional methods. They will then be taught how to play their instrument which will be incorporated into the fusion didgeridoo and drum group.

The fusion didgeridoo and drum group will work towards performances for the school community and special events, including NAIDOC day, The Song Room Inter-Schools Performance Day and Education Week.

“The program has been invaluable. You have filled our school with music and it has been positively delightful.”

– Principal, Shalvey Public School

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