Dundula Primary School
Dundula Primary School is a small school on the outskirts of the city of Mackay, in Central Queensland. With four teachers, a teaching principal and about eighty students, it is in a low socio-economic area and many of the students are disadvantaged and do not have many opportunities outside their actual school experience.
At the beginning of 2010 a young teacher, Daniel Bromiley, commenced working at the school. He has a musical background and saw that the boys were often at a loose end during breaks. He discovered five wooden guitars, which had been sitting in a storeroom for many years and he did what he could to make these instruments functional, having them tuned and getting new strings. This was the start of an instrumental programme for our students.
Any students in years 4 – 7 were welcome to get involved and many of them have done so. These wooden guitars may be borrowed and taken home as long as you travel in a car or walk and treat them with care. Lunchtimes will often find Mr Bromiley with a group of students in the classroom or playground showing them the fingering and chords and helping them to understand rhythm. He teaches them the chords within a song, so they are easy to remember.
A few of the Year 6/7 boys have started a band and Mr Bromiley has accessed some electric guitars and generously loaned his own drum set, keyboard and amplifier. He provides a trumpet accompaniment. All the students have some knowledge of music from school classes but they learn music for the band through demonstration and then breaking down tunes into chords. Sheet music and books play a very minor part in our programme.
All music and band practice takes place in the students’ own time - after school and during lunchtimes they are busy making music. The visiting special needs teacher helps with keyboard accompaniment at times.
Many of these boys are from disadvantaged backgrounds with about 40% from aboriginal families. There are no auditions for the band - if you want to play, they’ll give you a go. The boys can also be found helping each other when their teacher is unavailable.
The teachers say that the band has made a tremendous difference in these boys’ lives, they are more enthusiastic about learning in general and absenteeism has dropped. The boys want to be at school so they have the opportunity to make music. They are not as disruptive and music is improving their ability to listen and stay focussed. One of the parents has gone and bought instruments for his sons as a result of the interest these boys have shown. A student who has been a poor achiever in practically all other areas can be found making music every lunch time, if permitted. Girls do play the guitars too but the band has, so far, been the boys’ preserve.
As the school chaplain, I have watched this programme make a difference to these boys; you can see their faces light up when they talk to you. Having been very concerned about the future of some of these students and seeing them as “at risk”, I am very enthusiastic about the value of music for them. Our music class teacher has also been providing some keyboard lessons for a young girl from a family with few resources as the girl desperately wants to learn.
I see this programme as innovative as it began from nothing and has progressed amazingly in one year. This instrumental programme has “happened “ as a result of one young man’s love for music and his desire to see others enjoying and benefiting from music too. They have no funding, resources are begged or borrowed and there is a “make do” philosophy which is wonderful to see. In education where one of the key themes is engagement, particularly for boys “at risk” I have been so impressed with the innovation and magic in this programme.
|< Prev||Next >|