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The Katherine Beat

Two remote Indigenous school communities in the Northern Territory’s Katherine region are working with The Song Room in their schools on creative learning programs designed to increase school attendance and connection with the communities.

Funded by Communities for Children facilitating partners, The Smith Family, The Song Room’s Teaching Artist Ed Gould has been working at the Bulman and Yarralin schools, delivering creative arts and music workshops for the students, teachers, and families.

The students have really enjoyed the classes, with the Acting Principal of Bulman School noting that The Song Room program is “a really effective way to engage with the community; this week we have seen more attendance than at any other time, the community really enjoy watching their children perform.”

Given the very remote nature of these schools – each is approximately 300 kilometres away from Katherine in opposite directions – these programs have had to be delivered  by blending intensive face-to-face workshops and ongoing teacher support through The Song Room’s digital arts education portal, ARTS:LIVE.

The programs began with a bucket drumming course delivered online via video instruction, to help students develop their listening, counting, communication and physical coordination skills. Under the guidance of a musically-minded teacher at the school, the students began by building instruments from industrial buckets. They then decorated their buckets, dressing them and preparing them for Ed’s arrival so they could get straight down to the important business of playing their home-made instruments!

The program sessions also included exploration of picture books and dramatisation through ARTS:LIVE resource Too Many Cheeky Dogs, with the goal of helping improve students’ literacy, dramatic performance and singing. Ed also used the sessions to explore a range of concert instruments, including flute, clarinet, trumpet and trombone.

Family members and carers joined in the music and movement workshops. Ed worked with the parents and families to build their confidence and teach them creative activities for boosting collaboration with their children at school and home.

Excitingly, the students have been working hard to polish their performances for the forthcoming Katherine BEAT Festival, the region’s annual performing arts event, comprising of a full evening of student performance, woven with music, storytelling, dance and drama. The BEAT Festival has been running in the Katherine area since 1979, and the Bulman and Yarralin schools are using their newfound music and arts skills to prepare a special performance for the community.

Stay tuned for a story about the performance in June!

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