Friday 13th September

Karawhiua! Let's Play! residency at Shirley Primary School

Recently, the CSO worked with a group of students from the New Zealand Broadcasting School to document our Karawhiua! Let’s Play! residency programme at Shirley Primary School in August.

Karawhiua! Let’s Play! residency at Shirley Primary School

By Lucy Henry, with contribution from Timmi Aplin-Barrett, Shannon Trim, Sam Wilkinson, Jake Fearon, Ashleigh Duthie, Jake MacFarlane, and Dan Wharton (New Zealand Broadcasting School)

Our most recent Karawhiua! Let’s Play! residency programme took place at Shirley Primary School. The students were visited by six members of the CSO who took them through five days of fun-filled musical learning.

Each of the projects taught the children about beat, rhythm and pitch but they also related to topics that the students were learning at school, such as climate change, the voyages of Captain Cook to New Zealand and the music written by Mozart in the same year. 

The students got to play a variety of instruments including the harp, trumpet, drums, triangle, tī rākau sticks and chime bars. They learnt how to read basic music, how to play in time in an ensemble and gained lots of confidence with performing along the way.

CSO Principal Oboe Jennifer Johnson said the programme “opens up their [students] eyes” to new experiences and shows the children what they can achieve. “I love seeing from the beginning of the week to the end of the week the difference in the kids and how they really open up and I know that we’re also coming in so they’re a little bit shy with us at the beginning but to see their development over the week is really exciting”.

Principal Trumpet Thomas Eves said he loves teaching the children and finds it an incredibly rewarding experience. He also said what he enjoys most is seeing the progression of the students from start to finish. 

“We actually teach them how to read a music chart exactly like we do and by the end of the week they’re in four separate groups, they can read a piece from start to finish, playing four completely different parts, they start together and hopefully they’ll end together but it’s really rewarding to see them actually applying what we teach them about the rhythms and making it into a really exciting drum project,” he said. 

Each class met with the CSO musicians about three times a week to rehearse and prepare their projects. Whānau, teachers and residents from the local retirement village gathered at the end of the week for a concert put on by the students to celebrate what they had achieved during the week. 

Some children had never played an instrument before participating in the residency programme but they had gained enough skills and confidence by the end of the week to perform.

Deputy Principal Jo Merrick said the concert “was outstanding” and was thrilled that Shirley primary had been a part of the programme. “This is something that provides an amazing opportunity to these children, hands on materials, amazing tutors and just really uplifts the whole community and we have a fantastic audience here who are super proud of their children so of course we’d recommend that to other schools,” she said.