St Joseph’s Kingswood students have the world on a string!

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St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Kingswood Year 4 student Trent Miller enjoys learning to play the violin during his strings lessons

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Kingswood are getting the fantastic chance to learn a musical instrument at school, giving them the opportunity of a lifetime of learning.

CAPTIVATE, the Arts unit of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, have been facilitating classroom music programs at St Joseph’s Kingswood for seven years. Lead by Specialist Teacher - Music, Michelle Loevendie, every Monday morning Year 3 and Year 4 students are able to focus on learning their string instruments.

“A lot of the students come into the class with little to no background in music. During Year 3, the lessons are focused on teaching the students correct technique such as how to hold the instrument and bow properly as well as how to sight read music. This includes understanding pitch and rhythm" Mrs Loevendie said.

“Not only are students learning how to physically do something new, they are also learning a new universal language. They also develop ensemble skills by playing as part of a group, rather than just learning to play individually. Their learning is also supported in class with a special music literacy book which looks at the theory behind what they are learning to play."

Mrs Loevendie is supported in her role by fellow specialist music teacher Craig Davidson and specialist strings tutor Bronwyn McColl. “These music classes give most of the students an appreciation of music they would not get otherwise," Mr Davidson said.

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CAPTIVATE’s Specialist Teacher - Music Michelle Loevendie said a lot of the students come into the class with little to no background in music and this is a great opportunity for them to learn something new.

“Some students may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn an instrument. It gives them confidence and also means that they are better prepared for high school," Mr Davidson said.

Mrs McColl said it also allows students to use the creative side of their brains. ‘Learning music engages the creative side of the brain and students are then able to think differently when learning other things in class too” she said. “ Research from neurologists states that playing a musical instrument creates ‘fireworks’ in the brain, activating many parts of the brain simultaneously’ said Mrs Loevendie.

However, students aren’t the only ones learning a musical instrument during these classes, the classroom teachers get to as well!

Year 4 teacher Adelle Scott said she likes to take part in the lesson because it shows students, teachers can make mistakes too, especially when they are learning something new! “You can see the difference it makes in the students learning and outcomes,’’ Mrs Scott said. ‘It’s great for the class to see their teacher being a ‘student’. Given, the Year 4 students are in their second year of learning an instrument, they are often the ones helping their classroom teacher out and explaining things to them during our lessons!” Mrs Loevendie added.

Violinist and Year 4 student Trent Miller said he learnt in music that the alphabet (of notes) goes from A to G and the favourite songs he is learning are Twisted and Super Skates. Classmate Sienna Messina said she is really enjoying learning the violin as she learns the piano outside of school. “I like how you learn how to play lots of different songs and that if you practice, you can get better," she said.

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Year 4 student Pallav Giddaluri (centre) said he finds his music classes challenging and fun

The strings program has also allowed fellow Year 4 students Pallav Giddaluri and Meghna Saini to learn a musical instrument for the first time. They said they find their music classes challenging and fun. Pallav, who is learning the viola said he enjoys the classes as he doesn’t get the opportunity to learn a musical instrument outside of school.

Meghna, who plays the cello and is new to the school, said she was very happy to see the school had music classes. “I find the classes really helpful as it gives me another opportunity to learn something new," she said.

The strings program at St Joseph’s Primary is run in Year 3 and Year 4. In year 3 the focus is learning the basics and in Year 4 students are encouraged to take their instruments home with them and practice independently.

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