Curran Public School
Curran Public School is located in the Macquarie Fields Public housing estate and currently has 243 students across ten mainstream classes, three autism support classes and one IO/Autism class. Staff members come from a range of teaching backgrounds, some with many years of teaching experience and some from predominantly new scheme and Early Career teachers. The school population includes 13% Aboriginal students, 22% Pacific Islander students and 65% of students made up from a mixture of cultures including Australian. Our community has a significant proportion of families that are unemployed, single parent and with drug / alcohol issues.
We have a unique and exciting body percussion and drumming music program in the school that forms a key part of the school culture. Inspired by Drum Beat, we formed a Pacific Islander body percussion and drumming ensemble and another drumming ensemble for students who are at risk of disengaging from classroom programs. This program has assisted classroom teaching with teacher mentorship strategies in place. In addition, we have a partnership Drumming Program with the local high school (James Meehan High). This combined school's drumming group perform regularly, for example: a recent rugby league half time performance at ANZ Stadium, Polyfest community performances, presentations at local schools and an upcoming South West Sydney Principals Conference.
This program involves the staff, students and community. It has enabled strong partnerships to develop with several parents who provide workshops in traditional percussion and dance teaching with a Samoan focus. The school has undertaken several whole school professional development sessions to train teachers in bringing percussion into the classroom. Claudia Chambers (Percussionist and teacher) is employed on a regular basis to mentor key teachers, guide the school ensembles, and assist with the overall drumming program.
Curran Public has recently received an Australia Council Schools Partnership Grant to continue expanding the drumming program with rhythm duo, Hip Hop Duende, in 2011.
This music program is unique in that it is currently the only school in Australia which features a cajon drum (box drum) ensemble combined with body percussion. This combination allows students to bring together both their own cultural influences and their current musical interests (eg rap, hip hop, rock) to create innovative and relevant musical experiences.
We balance a combination of (1) teaching students new musical skills with (2) student innovation and composition. We also utilise peer teaching programs, where students from higher years gain experience sharing their developing musical knowledge with younger students. This has further enhanced the profile and attractiveness of the program within the school. We also have a program for Year 5 & 6 where we use the rhythms that students create as a springboard for understanding, reading and writing music notation. We work closely with links between numeracy and rhythm as an innovative approach to learning new skills.
We measure the success of our instrumental program by the broader positive impacts it is having in our school and surrounding community. Our truancy rates have significantly decreased since the introduction of the Drumming Program and student anger management issues have also been positively affected. Students have clearly demonstrated pride and ownership of the creative process and their musical learning. This has been shown by the quality of their performances and commitment to the program's success. Teamwork skills have been strongly influenced and developed in all students who have participated in these learning experiences.
Our vision for Curran Public School:
We aim to expand our program so that we can further develop and instill in all students a love of music and self expression. This positively influences the students' self esteem, confidence levels and their learning capacity across all Key Learning Areas, whilst reflecting and valuing their diverse cultural influences.
STUDENT COMMENTS: I have been in the Curran Public School drumming group this year and I have been given the chance to perform in front of other people. I have learned lots of drumming techniques with different rhythms and how to play a cajon.
My favourite lesson each week at school is drumming with Miss Chambers because I get to play with my friends and we get to learn about different kinds of music. I am learning to read musical notes and play different types of drums. I have played the cajon drum at the football and at other community events this year.
I would like to learn drumming after school one day but I know I can only do it at school. I don’t think many people know what a cajon is and I like talking to them about it. Everyone says we are really good and they love looking at the drums.
I have learnt teamwork and responsibility in this group because we all need to work together to make it happen. I don’t get nervous anymore when I perform because I love doing it.
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