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Wenona students welcomed guests from Lansdowne Gardens to a music therapy concert held at the Independent Theatre on May 11.
The concert was enjoyed by close to 20 aged care residents, and featured piano, violin and viola solos before a sing-along of popular and Australian folk songs led by Wenona’s Music Therapy Group.
It is the third year of the initiative, which is part of the School’s Service Learning in the Community (SLIC) project. About 20 students in Years 9 and 10 now give of their time and performance skills. Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing.
Music and Drama teacher Dr Dianne Langan said music therapy expanded students’ communication skills and gave them a greater understanding of diversity within the broader community.
“They are encouraged and required to interact with their audience in conversation as audience and as the girls assist with any obvious, simple care needs – such as opening doors, passing out books or cups of tea – their understanding of diversity is increased,” Dr Langan said.
“We work with people impacted by age, dementia, mobility issues, mental health issues and students with diverse needs. The girls’ confidence in their own abilities is extended as they are doing something which is new and challenging in a very safe and structured way.”
It is the second year that Year 10 students Amelia, Sonia, Elise and Emily have taken part in the Music Therapy Group concerts. Last year they played for aged care residents, retired nuns and children with disabilities.
“I thought music therapy was a very unique way to show service learning in the community, so I chose to be part of it,” Amelia said. “I think it’s a lot more relaxed than a normal concert and we get different reactions. Sometimes people get up and dance and that’s wonderful to watch.”
Elise played viola at the concert, and said the connection to audience was different to at other events.
“At most concerts, you’re there to enjoy the music for what it is,” she said. “In music therapy concerts you’re connecting with the player as well because it is held in a much more intimate place. People can dance, you interact with the people in the audience before and after you play and they can ask you questions about your playing of music.”
Chiara, in Year 9, said the Music Therapy Group was a great opportunity to broaden musical skills and bring joy to community groups through music.
“We finished the program with classic sing-a-longs which the audience clearly loved due to their enthusiastic participation,” she said. “Overall, this was a highly rewarding experience and we look forward to our next performance.”
Alumna Margaret Cadlett (Birch) was full of praise for the students who performed and shared with them her memories of the school, including of Japanese raids of Sydney Harbour in 1942 and the first male teacher to join Wenona’s staff.
“It was marvellous,” she said of the concert. “I was bowled away by the violinist who played.”