‘Singing in’ our New Year

‘And they say, back then the Universe… Was an endless sea until a silver fox and her cunning mate began to sing a song that became the world we know.’

These are the words our beautiful 2022 Preps sang when the whole school performed Bjork’s ‘Cosmogony’ song: a song of mythological creation stories from different cultures across the world. This myth, with the singing foxes, comes from the Indigenous American people, and we sang, and sang, this verse and its chorus, like an anthem that absorbed us in our togetherness. I have loved returning to school to hear, live around me, our children singing: we are creating and ‘singing in’ a new beginning to our school year. It already feels like this will be a year of warmth and magic: ideas are bouncing, and we are moving forward in the glow of the generous community spirit-building events of last year. Welcome back to school everyone: may this be an inspired year of creative learning. Thank you for a wonderful start to Neighbourhood Music, the School Choir and Instrumental Music.

Neighbourhood Music has felt happy and settled. New learning spaces, friends, teachers and faces, a new timetable, and lots of new names to learn. Across the school though, no matter where we grow on to, our song repertoire travels with us, it’s the ‘glue’ that instantly unites us: a new group of students who sound like they have always sung together, and that’s special. We are enjoying songs we know well by adding a second part, or some body percussion, and are playing rhythm games to help us remember student’s names. Music activities are a great way to encourage co-operation and team building, and the Yr 1/2 students are demonstrating an excellent approach to these skills: keep it up Yr 1/2, I’m impressed.

As the Term progresses we look forward to finding out how this year’s Inquiry theme ‘Respectful Relationships’ can be expressed through music. In the Yr 3/4 and 4/5 Neighbourhoods we are already thinking about how this theme is reflected in the lyrics of ‘Australians Let Us Stand as One’. Written in 2009 by Judith Durham, Kutcha Edwards and Lou Bennett, this song is now broadly accepted as Australia’s National Song, and is frequently sung in communities across Australia in place of the Australian National Anthem which dates back to 1878. The students are thinking critically about the lyrics, of both the song and the anthem, by asking what the intention might be behind the lyrics, and by reflecting about how the lyrics resonate with the the times that they were written in. We asked the students how they felt when they sang or read the lyrics? There are many avenues to explore, and both pieces will be a focus of music learning in the other Neighbourhoods too.

Today, I met with our new ‘Super Prep Stars’, and what a ‘switched on’, imaginative bunch of sunbeams they are. We enjoyed music outside under the ash tree and sang songs we all know. I’m delighted to have another Prep Neighbourhood of confident singing voices and creative lyricists who are sharp at ‘swapping in’ their own lyrics. ‘Sailing over the octopus, sailing over the swimming sausage, sailing over the wet fish. Bring back my lunch to me.’ Delivers quite a different singing tone from sailing over the ocean, sea and water as in the original song. Go Preps.

Music with the Preps out under the ash tree: beautiful!

When the 5/6s sang last year’s Prep lyrics, they were enthused to ‘swap in’ their own, and a discussion which tested geographic general knowledge for names of oceans, seas and kinds of water followed. It’s a lot of fun weaving ‘spontaneous rabbit holes’ into a musical experience. The 5/6s also sang vocal warm-ups with body percussion, and patterns sung in canon. These were challenging, initially, but persistence paid off.

The School Choir has just leapt up a notch, or six! We had the first rehearsal with Emily today, and with the increased membership, our 36 singers are already sounding terrific. Congratulations to everyone, but especially to our new and youngest choir members who have made an impressive start. We have many plans ‘afoot’ for our singers and have started to learn ‘Lean on Me’ in addition to visiting old favourites. We will also learn a rousing descant to accompany the whole school when they sing ‘Australians Let us Stand as One’.

Our wonderful Instrumental Music Program will begin this week. I am delighted that so many students have enrolled this year and it really feels like we are back to ‘full strength’ after the lockdown years. We have a healthy enrolment of 126 students: that is one third of the whole school, and we look forward to enjoying our student performances in the assemblies and concerts through out this year.

Our IM teachers Mark, Marcos, Sasha and Mitchell, and for this term Jennifer, really do make a big contribution to our IM students’ learning growth through PHPS as nearly everyone shares their learning journey with them across the Yrs 2 – 6. Sadly, our flute teacher, Kylie Sparkman, is not able to teach this Term for health reasons, but she hopes to return in Term 2. We are very happy though, that Jennifer Timming, who taught online for Kylie during the COVID Lockdowns, is able to work with Kylie’s students and the school is delighted to welcome Jennifer to our IM Team.

Thank you to everyone for a happy, easy and energised start to the the year, and a big thank you to Julie, Jacquee, Mandy and Amanda for their help with all the IM admin. Have a great two weeks. Cheerio Deb

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