New ABC Documentary On Primary School Music Education

Don't Stop The Music; Image Credit: Screen Australia
Graham Strahle
| December 5, 2017

ABC TV has announced that it will screen a documentary series next year called Don’t Stop the Music on the benefits of music in primary school education. It follows how an underprivileged school in Armadale, in outer suburban Perth, takes on a new singing and instrumental music program under the guidance of high profile visiting musicians, one of whom is “a leading Australian aural training and choral expert”.

The three-part series will be fronted by singer-songwriter Guy Sebastian, who workshops songs with the year 4 students and mentors them as they learn to play instruments that have been donated to the school and perform in bands.

The ABC also says Don’t Stop the Music, which has been filming in Perth over the last nine months, will show how school teachers can also benefit from the expertise of outside musicians and educators by tooling them up to teach, motivate and inspire young children in music.

A national ‘amnesty’ campaign is being planned to coincide with the series to encourage members of the public to donate unused instruments to needy primary schools. Partners in this campaign are Musica Viva, through its In Schools program, and the Salvation Army; they will help by collecting, servicing and distributing the instruments.

Don’t Stop the Music follows the same format as a UK television series of the same name that screened in 2014. Led by one of Britain’s most colourful and eccentric classical pianists, James Rhodes, it likewise centred on an amnesty instrument campaign and ended up collecting over 7,000 instruments that were distributed to 150 schools.

Two outstanding Australian documentary films have been made in recent years about the passionate work of individual music teachers. Wide Open Sky (2016), featuring the Moorambilla Voices, told an inspiring story of how 130 children across regional and remote NSW were auditioned and brought together by Michelle Leonard, Moorambilla’s director, to sing as a choir. Meanwhile, Mrs Carey’s Concert (2011) is about an ambitious high school music teacher who brings all 1,200 girls from her school, MLC Burwood in Sydney, to perform at the Sydney Opera House.

Don’t Stop The Music will be broadcast on dates yet to be announced in 2018. We look forward to seeing how it goes.

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