Christmas, Limelight

Primary school students have rung in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s new education programme with a performance of Jingle Bells alongside musicians from the orchestra. The brand new Schools Music Education Program, for which the orchestra has partnered with Credit Suisse, will see six schools selected to participate – Soldiers’ Settlement Public School, Darlington Public School, Parramatta Public School, La Perouse Public School, Pendle Hill Public School and Dandenong West Primary School in Victoria.

“We are delighted to be able to partner with the SSO and the State Government on this extraordinary initiative that could establish a firm link between music education and academic performance,” said Credit Suisse CEO John Knox. “During the three-year pilot, the programme is expected to directly impact more than 1,000 students, approximately 36 teachers and involve many of our 400 staff. Future generations will also benefit from the experience gained by these teachers and students.”

Drawing on research that has linked academic achievement with positive arts experiences,  the programme will see Year Three students at the selected schools attend the SSO’s schools concerts in Sydney and go on an excursion to the Sydney Opera House where they will have a chance to look behind the scenes at the world of professional orchestral musicians.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Music EducationStudents at Soldiers’ Settlement Public School, Matraville, with Sydney Symphony Orchestra Percussionist Timothy Constable. Photo © Belinda Pratten

In addition, Year Three teachers from each of the schools will undertake the SSO’s TunED-UP! Programme, a week-long immersion course of music pedagogy for NSW K–6 teachers. Musicians from the SSO will also visit each of the schools once a year. Over three years, each new intake of Year Three students will join the programme, with the SSO monitoring each schools’ response across the programme by exploring the impact of music education on literacy and numeracy.

The SSO’s new programme joins a number of initiatives around the country that seek to improve access to music education such as those offered by The Song Room and the Australian Children’s Music Foundation, as well as education programmes offered by the other state orchestras and organisations such as Musica Viva.

“We’re striving to build a culture of music education in schools to enhance teachers’ knowledge and skills and ensure that every child has access to music education,” said the SSO’s Director of Learning and Engagement Linda Lorenza. “Numerous local and international studies show that music develops students’ ability to listen, and regular music education has positive impacts on children’s academic achievement and motivation.”

“The students in our programme will not only have a lot of fun, but also enjoy the benefits of music in other areas of their lives.”