Wednesday 26th August

School's better with music

“Frozen beans!”

The children paused in mid-move, staying completely still and silent.

“Baked beans on toast!”

They dropped to the floor of the school hall and lay flat on their backs.

This was the Bean Song, one of the many music-based projects that students in Burnside Primary School partook in as a part of the CSO’s Karawhiua! Let’s Play! residency in their school.

From 10-14 August, two CSO tutor teams went to Burnside Primary School and Wairākei School to conduct residencies, bringing interactive music-based projects into classrooms and working with each class over the week in preparation for a final showcase concert at the end of the week for whānau and the wider school community.

However, the raising of alerts back to Level 2 in the middle of the week meant that the showcase concert could no longer be held. Instead of performing for a large community audience, each class performed for groups of their peers and students were invited to give feedback about what they liked in each performance. Whānau still found a way to participate, with one teacher in Burnside Primary School recording a video for a father who was in Thailand and unable to come to New Zealand to watch his son perform.

Wairākei School teacher Christine Mullins, whose junior students (aged 5-6) were a part of the “Hoea to waka” project – also known as “Row, row, row your boat” – said it was “amazing” for the students to have the opportunity to play music on instruments. “They love music and they’re all talking about it,” she said. “They already know the song but to play it on instruments is really special [and] they’re really trying to listen and focus.” The students learned the lyrics in Te reo Māori and the chords to go with the song, which they played on chime bars.

As a teacher, she had noticed that music had a positive effect on students’ school experience. “In this age of technology, so much is on the screen, but I love to have them singing along and playing. I play the guitar and we do music all the time, but [playing instruments] is a little treat for them.” After the residency, she was planning on creating an area with instruments for her students to play on.

Other projects included students creating rhythmic poems about what they wanted to do and chanting them along to rhythms, learning to play independent rhythmic parts and read music notation, and create a unique composition using Morse code.

In 2020, the CSO will undertake six Karawhiua! Let’s Play! School residencies. The next residencies will be in St Patrick’s School in Greymouth, Gilberthorpe School in Hei Hei, Sacred Heart School in Addington and a combined residency for Hāpuku School and Kaikōura Primary School in Kaikōura.

Karawhiua! Let's Play residencies are Learning Outside the Classroom Experiences, supported by the Ministry of Education.