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The Song Room’s 2017 End of Year Wrap Up

This year was another huge year for The Song Room. We were very pleased to see creativity taking more of a front step in the global education conversation in 2017, with greater understand that countries placing a higher value on the arts gain better results across all curriculum areas including subjects like maths and literacy.

In 2017 we ran creative arts programs in close to 100 communities. We’d like to share some of their stories with you – we hope it inspires you to keep on the journey with us.

Students in The Song Room’s face-to-face programs explored many varied themes through creativity, across many different art forms. The children at Milpera State School in Queensland cast the net wide, using puppetry, narration, multimedia and music to explore environmental themes such as deforestation, as well as epic sagas upon the desert and high seas, the journeys of sisters and brothers, alien abduction(!), and a yearning to return to home, wherever that may be around the world.

Our music programs soared too. The students from Victoria’s Annunciation School began their program exploring basic singing, music and movement with the students. Students quickly developed confidence week to week until they had written their own songs and a dance that they then performed for other schools at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of The Song Room’s ‘Jungle Jam’ end of year performance.

Our programs in communities with high language background other than English populations continued to shine. Students at the hip hop and breakdancing program at Balga Intensive English Language Centre in Western Australia overcame their shyness to devise their own choreography and perform for their community.

Similarly, our Indigenous-focussed Deadly Arts programs had great success, with teachers from Greenacre Primary School in Western Sydney sharing with us the pride they felt after a group of boys performed a traditional welcome dance in front of their whole school, while students from NSW’s Tower Street Primary School learned one of the Indigenous dreaming stories, then retold the story in their own words by writing and recording rap songs.

We had a great number of public artworks created in our programs this year. The community at Kelmscott Primary have just finished a mural with local artist Charlotte O’Shea depicting images from as far back as 1882, when the school was first built.

The children at Perth’s Westfield Park Primary School created an incredible steel sculpture as part of a Creative Community Project, and received a brand new outdoor amphitheatre. The amphitheatre, that highlights the sculpture and provides an outdoor classroom, along with a landscaped a garden with native flowers and trees which will in time provide shade for children using the space.

We also developed a number of innovative multimedia programs, such as Hive Mind, a project that used an inventive combination of visual art and technology to create a tree that tells stories gathered from Queensland’s Murri School community. Students then combined these elements into a touch sensitive sound installation, housed in a sculptural, handmade tree. Visitors to the tree can listen to the stories simply by touching the leaves of the tree and listening through a tin can phone.

Our digital programs broke new ground, with our online creative learning hub ARTS:LIVE reaching over 80% of Australian schools and over 1,000,000 students. We celebrated this achievement by opening up the site for everyone to register – so that children of all ages, educators and parents alike can explore, learn and develop their creative skills. We released new courses on ARTS:LIVE, including the incredibly successful Sustainable Songs created in partnership with The a2 Milk Company.

Sustainable Songs introduces children to the food cycle and sustainability while they make music using instruments made from fruit and vegetables!

The Song Room also strengthened international ties, delivering professional development and creative arts workshops in the Republic of Korea and Singapore – with our Singaporean partnership leading to the development of a new ARTS:LIVE resource, due out early next year.

Aside from our face-to-face and online programs successes, The Song Room was able to further shine a light on the excellent work that music teachers are doing around the country through our partnership with ARIA, in bringing the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award to life!

At the 2017 ARIA Awards ceremony, music teacher Renee McCarthy from South Australia was crowned the inaugural winner of the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award. Public voting for the Award received tens of thousands of votes from around the country, capturing the hearts and minds of Australians, who shared their own experiences of dedicated music teachers that have positively influenced their lives.

And of course, at the end of 2017, we farewell our CEO of 12 years Caroline Aebersold. Caroline’s enormous contribution to the organisation cannot be understated, with the organisation growing ten-fold under her leadership. In 2018, The Song Room warmly welcomes new CEO Simon Gipson to the helm. Simon brings a significant wealth of knowledge and experience to the organisation as a highly regarded leader in the education sector, and we are very excited about the next stage of our organisation’s growth.

As ever, we look forward to continuing to do our part to brighten the futures of more of the 3 in 4 Australian children that currently miss out on all the opportunities a creative education can bring.

All the best for 2018!

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