An Item of Local History on Our Stage.

Pianos have many nicknames: The Ivories, The Black and Whites, The Goanna and The Eighty-Eight. I think of our school piano as The Old Dame. Although she is a bit ‘shabby but chic’, this piano is still a gem of an instrument. Last week, the piano was tuned and serviced, so now, I look forward to arranging opportunities for our student pianists to perform in Ngh concerts later this Term. Meanwhile our Super Preps have a ’vegetable thing’ going on and the Neighbourhood Uke Clubs continue to impress.

Inside the Wertheim piano.

Our school’s piano was made by the Australian piano makers Wertheim at their Factory in Richmond. Founded in 1908, this factory made 18,000 upright pianos and 12 grand pianos until it was forced to close 1935 due to lack of demand brought on by the advent of the wireless radio and the Great Depression. We are lucky that we have this instrument, an example of a wonderfully complex invention which has brought music alive for hundreds of years. It is a fascination for students to see the intricacies of how a piano works and to understand it’s place in social history. If we trace back the technology at the centre of family home entertainment, where we now gather in home theatres or around wide screen TVs, these being preceded by TVs, and before these, the wireless radio, one hundred years ago, families would gather around the piano to sing. The Australian made Wertheim pianos were built to withstand the Australian climate, and were renown for staying in tune during the summer heat. They were the piano of choice for the Melbourne opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. The Wertheim factory building on Bendigo Street in Richmond was bought by the canned food company Heinz, and in the 1950s was home to the TV studios of Channel 9. The buildings are still there and are protected by local heritage laws.

The ’vegetable thing, in our Prep Music sessions, all started with Robert’s passion for corn, and in particular, with a crazy good song about corn derived from an interview with a child tasting corn for the very first time. ‘It’s corn! A big lump with knobs, it’s got the juice! I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing. When I had it with butter everything changed!’ This corn song has triggered the writing of a vegetable song medley! Summer’s favourite vegetable is a cucumber: ’Be as cool as a cucumber’ is just the best way to be. Capsicums are Lisa’s choice, so this week I am looking to the Preps for some classic Prep ‘one liners’ which may well be about driving around in a little red and speedy capsicum car…

The Preps singing about corn!

After 2 weeks of including a few minutes of the Macarena dance in Music, the Yr 1s are so good at this dance that we are bumping up the tempo. We have gone from .75 speed to 1.25 speed and we are on a roll! We have found this approach to be really great when learning to read notated rhythm patterns which we have been clapping out to the Star Wars Theme. The Yr 1s are also singing the round ’Mister Moon, Mister Moon’ beautifully. Bravo Yr 1!

Notated rhythm patterns have also been a part of Yr 2s music, and we have been getting double the value from the Imagine Dragons song ’Thunder’, as a rhythm pattern practice and as a uke play-along too.

The Yr 3/4s ad 5/6s are powering ahead with new chords on the uke and are embracing the challenges of various songs which offer different chord combinations at varying tempos. The students are grasping the concept of predicting the finger position changes, ie. whilst strumming a chord for four beats, you are already looking at the finger position of the next chord and are mapping out how your finger positions need to change in a split second! The much requested ’Never Gonna Give You Up’ with Rick Astley has some new chords and the tempo is quite fast. At .75 tempo, Rick still sounds like Rick, but at half speed an underwater sounding Rick Astley had us laughing so hard our bellies ached, but our uke chord changes were excellent. I have really enjoyed uke clubs. The ensemble skills just get stronger and stronger. I love how students are helping each other, singing along to songs, and are now suggesting songs that they want to learn with the realisation that they only need one or two more chords to do so.

Some students from the Yr 5/6 Uke Club.

As ever, many thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and joyous music sessions. Keep it up! All the best to everyone, cheerio, Deb.

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