Striking a chord with Sherbourne Primary School

Striking a chord with Sherbourne Primary School

We’re excited to be partnering with the Victorian Department of Education and Training once again to deliver the Music in Schools DUET Music Teacher Mentoring Program. 2022 will be the program’s fourth year, and the Arts Learning team is currently working in consultation with the department to plan the further roll-out of high-quality music mentoring to up to 160 teachers across Victoria.

close up of primary school student playing ukulele

One of the schools to already benefit from DUET is Sherbourne Primary School, situated in Briar Hill, Victoria. The school had undergone a period of significant change over the last decade, leading to a decline in both student and staff numbers. Where once they had a thriving and well-resourced classroom music program, there were no staff members teaching music and no dedicated time in the timetable for music classes anymore.

Being able to participate in the DUET program in Terms 2 and 3 last year reinvigorated the teachers and students at the school. The weekly visits from their Song Room Teaching Artist Mentor, Andy Coates, became a highlight for teachers and students alike. The weekly music classes were regularly featured in Sherbourne’s school newsletters. This sparked some controversy at the school because only a select number of classes could participate in the program, and parents who had heard about the program wanted their children to access the music classes as well! It wasn’t long before the entire school had the opportunity.

As the school went into remote learning in 2021, The Song Room program was an enormous support for teachers. So much so, that the online content Andy created was shared with the whole school, not just the participating teachers and students. DUET aims to increase teacher confidence to deliver quality music education and to improve student engagement and music learning outcomes. Remote learning gave us the opportunity to do that more widely at Sherbourne Primary School.

“I feel so much more confident to deliver music lessons and also to incorporate elements of music in my everyday classroom. Receiving all of the new equipment was wonderful and such a benefit for our small school who would never have been able to purchase such wonderful items without this program. We had a fabulous relationship with our mentor, the kids and all staff at the school love him so much and he has led our community to truly value the benefits of quality music education.”

– Teacher, Sherbourne Primary School.

The DUET proved so popular that Sherbourne Primary School continued with the program in Term 1 this year, providing a further two staff members with mentoring from a Song Room Teaching Artist Mentor. The teachers  have participated in face-to-face professional learning workshops to learn to confidently deliver music content to their students. The mentoring will also help them embed music activities throughout their curriculum and to instruct students in basic instrumental skills.

The funding made available to the school through the program enabled them to purchase $5000 of musical equipment, including beautiful class sets of ukuleles, boomwhackers, xylophones and class posters all in matching colours to brighten their school.

There is a real need in small schools like Sherbourne Primary School for generalist staff to be able to deliver music content to students.

In small schools, often, employing a specialist performing arts or music teacher is just not viable. Having access to an expert in music education and all of the professional learning resources that The Song Room offers as part of the DUET program is invaluable for these teachers in developing their confidence and capacity to deliver music education content.