Live Concerts Have A Vital Place In Music Education

Graham Strahle
| February 25, 2020

The value in teaching music in the school classroom or out-of-hours in private lessons is something that both parents and teachers are increasingly recognising. But there is another area that deserves attention too, which is the benefit of attending live performances. A great concert can open children’s ears, eyes and minds in uniquely direct and powerful ways. Liz Giuffre wrote about the benefits in The Conversation in 2014, and her comments pertain as equally today.

Formerly at Macquarie University and now at University of Technology Sydney, she says that in today’s society it has become far too easy to rely on recorded music as a means of bringing music to children. Recordings “can unquestionably set off a lifelong love of music,” she says. “But seeing music live with a group of strangers is something else again.”

Giuffre is an admirer of The Wiggles and Ali McGregor’s Jazzamattazz! cabaret shows, and she describes how a whole new breed of children’s entertainers such as these arose in the 1990s and 2000s. Catering for the Tween audiences, she argues that their success generated a need for live music specifically targeted at children at festivals and community venues alike.

So where can schools turn to in order bring live concert experiences to their students? It can be done either in-school or in excursions – and we take a brief look how.

One way of accessing groups for in-school concerts is via Musica Viva’s national In Schools program. This has a roster of 15 music groups that cater for Foundation to Year 8 students, and they present a culturally diverse range of styles from pop, jazz and classical to Taiko drumming and Gamelan. Groups come to the school and give interactive performances that are linked to the curriculum and are supported by ready-made lessons plans. Arrangements can be made for Year 9-12 classes as well. Cost is $9.50 per student. See more about Musica Viva In Schools here.

Taking students off to a concert is a wonderful experience too, and all the major orchestras now have well developed educational offerings that cater for school-aged children. Here is a quick directory:

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has a Learning Program designed for children from Kindergarten up to Year 12, and it offers a $50 Student Live Pass for students aged 15 and above for many of its concerts.

Australian Chamber Orchestra offers Concerts for Young People, $25 school tickets, and Regional Concerts that take its 17-piecestring ensemble ACO Collective to regional centres – see all details here.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has a Schools & Teachers program that caters for all school ages and includes open rehearsals and curriculum concerts. Financial assistance is available to eligible schools.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra has three school concert programs, and they are all curriculum linked: Discover for Prep to Year 6 children, an Explore for Years 5-10, and Engage for Years 9-12.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra also has curriculum linked schools concerts for K-6 children and has a Meet the Music concert series for secondary students; Teacher Resource kits are offered – see here.

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra runs schools concerts for Grades 1-8 and offers extensive online resources, including its new TUNE IN educational package for classrooms, home schoolers and families – all here.

Early in the year is a good time to plan school trips to any of these orchestras. School group bookings offer reduced rates, and often teachers are allowed in for free.

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