‘Stars Singing in the Sky’


When Miles from Prep first heard the sound of the Federation Handbells, he said that they sounded like ’stars singing in the sky’. This wonderous observation, along with the idea that we are all made of star dust as the Preps have been remarking all week, are just two of many magical moments that have made the start to our percussion workshops delightfully inspiring. We have welcomed percussionists Peter Neville and Elissa Goodrich to introduce the Federation Handbells and share with us all their ’trade secrets’ about how to make really cool sounds with percussion instruments. Peter and Elissa were concerned that they should do stacks of planning leading up to the workshops, but I assured them that once the students engage with the instruments and their chosen part of the Galaxy, our planning pathway will be revealed.

Learning how to make the most pure resonant sound from the bells.

Elissa and Peter introduced the vast sound-world of the bells with an improvisation that explored a variety of bell techniques. The students expressed their observations of how the bells were played and what the improvisation made them think about.

Peter and Elissa were ’tapping different angles and different sides of the bells to make different sounds’ Harriet Prep

‘The stars were playing’ Arlo Prep

It sounded like ’Magical stuff going around the sky’ Franek Yr 2

‘The world was spinning’ Arlo Yr 1

As we learned the different ways to play the bells through tapping, rubbing, ringing or dampening the sounds, the Year 1s imagined space dust, star mud, space dancing chickens and squeaky space mice. The static hiss of a Black Hole could be made with our voices combined with rubbing bells. When Peter played the bell crates with a double bass bow it reminded us of meteorites, and a glissando on the bells was a shooting star. Tapping the bell crates with chopsticks was the sound of stars forming a rainbow.

All the Neighbourhoods have chosen a ’what ever is out there’ part of the Galaxy to inspire their sound music. Whilst the Federation Bells will form a connecting sound theme for all these explorations, we will be expanding our sound pallet to include any instrument or object we can sound to express our ideas. Our ’Super Prep Stars’ voted to explore the sound of stars. We have already discovered three new constellations: the Bell Constellation, the Chime-Bar Constellation and the Pudding Bowl Constellation which all sound awesome in the gym.

The Year 1s have chosen the Milky Way Galaxy. How can we share the sound world of Galactic entities? With a Milky Way Parade of course! We’ll start with the big things close to home, like the sound of the sun, and find sounds for all our Solar System planets as we venture far out into the Milky Way.

Our Year 2 Neighbourhood has been relating many aspects of this year’s learning to indigenous story and culture. We have begun understanding how Indigenous Astronomy shows us that Country is mirrored in the starry skies above, and that the starry skies are, in turn, reflected in Country. By knowing how to ’read’ the subtle changes in the night sky, our First Nations’ People knew when to gather emu eggs and the best times to fish or plant crops. Certain constellations could serve as memory aids to assist with navigation across Country. Perhaps we can find ways that our contemporary environment is mirrored in the night sky?

Year 3/4 Ngh 1 and 2 have voted to describe the potential sound worlds of the Black Hole and Aliens. We wonder whether to be optimistic: if the Aliens get sucked into the Black Hole, is there an exit out the other side? If we could capture the radio waves of the Black Hole and amplify them, might we hear celestial music? After-all, we are only limited by our imaginations and technology! Luckily, there is a chance that the Year 5/6s might also find the answers as they too will explore the region of space where nothing can escape!

To say that all I can hear 24/7 is the humming Galaxy around me is an under statement. It has been an awesome week of collaboration between the students, Peter and Elissa. Thank you to everyone.

’Heaven, Heaven’s bodies whirl around me. Make me wonder’

Heaven, Heaven’s bodies whirl around me. And dance eternal.’

These words are from the song ’Cosmogony’ by the singer Björk. This is a song that shares creation myths and theories from different cultures, and we really look forward to sending our voices out to the stars when we perform this for you. Have a wonderful couple of weeks everyone. Cheerio Deb.


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