‘Tuneful, Beatful and Artful.’

Recently I came across the work of Dr John Feierabend who is a leading authority on music and movement development in young children. The program he has developed enriches children’s engagement with classical music through simple choreographic moves. These are artfully designed to relate to the melody and rhythm of a broad selection of classical music. In a beautiful coincidence, hearing Ruby share the the music of Saint Saëns, his cello solo ‘The Swan’ from the orchestral work ‘Carnival of the Animals’ of 1886, with her students, I was delighted to find that there is a beautiful series of swan and water inspired movements to this music designed by Feierabend.

Yr 1/2 Ngh2 engage with Feierabend’s movements to the music of ‘The Swan’.

Everyone came in hot and drained after the 2pm recess last Thursday, but the gentle magic of Saint Saën’s ‘The Swan’ music and choreography of flowing arm gestures, calmed the students of 4/5A. Some students commented that they felt relaxed and calmer, and as a group, the students were more focussed and ‘chilled out’. Add some mindful breathing and we enjoyed thrice the benefits: wellbeing, chi gong and music, all rolled into one. It was encouraging to see students supporting others whose response was ‘Ballet? No way!’, to have a go.

Yr 4/5A breathing through the ‘The Swan’ movements.
… and the Preps also enjoyed ‘The Swan’too.

By Friday afternoon, as the thermometer tipped forty degrees outside, we were all at ‘lounge lizard’ stage, and it was too hot to think about swans or any other movement. Instead, with 1/2 Ngh1 we discussed what kinds of sounds make up an animation soundtrack? Enter onto the screen our old friend ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ which has been delightfully animated as a 6 minute film. This animation inspired some wonderful responses during music online of the Lockdown days, and it was such a treat to revisit this with a new group of junior students. So, are these Yr 1/2s super smart, or did lots of them hang out on Seesaw with their big brothers and sisters? I was very impressed at their comments and observations, and how the students were able to describe how the soundtrack supports the visual content of the animation.

Julien Nott is the brilliant composer who wrote the orchestral score, the first sound type identified by the students. He also wrote the music for ‘Wallace and Gromit’, ‘Pepper Pig’ and ‘Thomas and the Magic Railroad’. The students identified different orchestral instruments and musical themes which illustrated reoccurring events in the story. The caterpillar chomping, and the rumbling sound of is hungry tummy were sound effects which added humour to the soundtrack, and led to a discussion about the art of Foley. Students could hear the sounds of nature: birds chirping and night time cicadas, and of course the ‘story reader’, correctly identified as the narrator. Many of the Yr 2 students commented on the art work of the author and illustrator Eric Carle, and they remembered making the Collage Mural with Hannah and Sarah Rowe, Artist in Residence, during the Wellbeing Festival of 2020.

Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar
A detail from the Wellbeing Festival collage mural.

Instrumental Music has settled in well and it’s fabulous to hear the sound of instruments herald in the weekend. Bravo to our new IM students who are supporting each other with enthusiasm and getting in the IM Friday swing. Later this Term, in Week 8, we look forward to our first Instrumental Music Assembly.

The Choir continues to impress. Top job choir members, and thank you for your dedication to choir at the ends of these warm February afternoons. We are starting to learn a descant to ‘Australians Let Us Stand as One’. A descant is a counter melody which is at a higher pitch than the song’s melody. It is usually sung over the final verse of a song to heighten the emotional impact of the music. Descants reign supreme in traditional hymn singing. The effect of voices soaring above a congregation singing with an organ is nothing short of thrilling: like a choir of angels descending through the vaulted roof of the church! Well, as we find our upper ‘high flying’ voices we hope to add something special to the lyrics of Judith Durham and Kutcha Edwards.

As ever, many thanks to everyone for a happy couple of weeks and all the best as we roll into March. Take care. Cheerio,Deb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *