In 2016, the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM) implemented a pilot Music and Literacy Project in Term 4 at Newling Public School. The project was based on teaching classroom music using the ukulele as the instrument of instruction. Literacy instruction is also a key component and teachers developed skills in using a researched based strategy to develop vocabulary, oral language and general knowledge in each lesson. The pilot was so popular that NECOM and project director Cathy Welsford, a leading specialist in music literacy and musician, offered it to rural primary schools in the New England region.
In 2017, the Music and Literacy Project was launched with generous funding from the Foundation of Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and was immediately taken up by 9 public primary and central schools, many of which had little practical music in the classroom. The inaugural school partners in the project were:
- Ashford Central School
- Bald Blair PS
- Ben Lomond PS
- Black Mountain PS
- Chandler PS
- Drummond Memorial PS
- Ebor PS
- Tingha PS
- Walcha Central School
The project was designed to be implemented in Stages 2 and/or 3 and based on the outcomes of the NSW K-6 Music Syllabus. It was constructed on evidence-based practice in both music and literacy education. The project provided an accessible and inspiring strategy to build student engagement in learning and thereby link the project to school Milestones statement.
The broad and thorough scope of the project and spread of rural school across the New England was impressive and included:
- 2 professional learning days with NESA (BOSTES) accreditation (15 hours of registered hours;
- 3 video conferences and consultation with participating teachers;
- a class music program linked to NSW K-6 Music Stage 2 & 3 syllabus outcomes to be implemented with evaluation in Term 4;
- 24 detailed lessons (8 x 40 min lessons/term) covering the concepts/elements of the NSW K-6 Music syllabus;
- a school support visit and demonstration lesson;
- ongoing support via email and on the project Facebook page, and
- facilitation of a culminating performance event (either physical or online) for sharing student achievement.
NECOM thanks the Foundation of Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) most sincerely for the support that was so generously provided. Thank you.