New JVS Director, Philosophy for students, More Money, AMEB problems, Literacy Drive, The Fazioli….
Dr Robert Curry reiterated how important aural skills are for the jazz player. Listening and responding musically are the foundation for jazz improvisation. The school works with students to build these skills in the small ensembles program, and through the choral program.
Robert was pleased to announce that the school has received a bequest of $5,000 from Sheila Margaret L. Jones to foster jazz studies at the school. Sheila left this money to an ex-student, who in turn left it to the school.
Liz Scott who runs the Junior Vocal Stream at the school has gone on maternity leave, and we all wish her well. In her absence she will be replaced by Liz Vierboom, an outstanding and enthusiastic educator, who is herself an ex Con High student. Liz majored in violin and pipe organ at the Conservatorium, then, inspired by Richard Gill, moved into vocal repertoire and choral conducting. She has a long association with Gondwana Voices / Sydney Children’s Choirs, and has also taught at Barker College and Abbotsleigh.
David Owens is now teaching Philosophy as an extra-curricular subject. There has been a strong response from the students which is pleasing.
The school has received a record number of applications this year, and the standard of the applicants is rising, which is good for the school. There will be a strong cohort coming into Year 7 in 2014.
There have been major changes in the Department of Education, which means more money for the school. The school principals now have more control of the school budget, and Robert is optimistic about the benefits this will have, irregardless of the outcome of the recent Federal Election. Online financial facilities are about to be introduced.
Robert is dismayed by the large numbers of students who miss school to attend the AMEB examinations. At a musical school like ours the AMEB exams create rolling absences over the period of a few weeks a couple of times a year. This is very disruptive to the teaching program at CHS and causes a lot of upset amongst the staff.
Dr Curry points out that the AMEB is a private corporation and their program of tuition and music exams conflicts in many ways with the music and education programs at the school. The instrumental tutors are often frustrated in their cultivation of our students as the AMEB diverts students from working on material that is far more appropriate to their individual needs. Robert urges parents who feel that the AMEB offers something more than the school can provide to come and speak to him so he can amend the school program if something is found to be lacking.
Literacy is a problem for many of our students, as it is for secondary and tertiary students across the country. This is a huge disadvantage when sitting the HSC. Our students are smart and committed, but if they can’t articulate their thoughts and make their arguments clearly on paper, they will not get the marks that reflect their abilities. Many students at the Con speak English as a second language. Theoretically, speaking two languages is a huge advantage, as speakers will intuitively understand more about grammar and sentence construction. However, these students need to speak English with adults as much as possible to fully develop their abilities. Children are at a disadvantage if they mostly speak English with their peers, who use a more limited and informal vocabulary. Parents need to support their children’s literacy by speaking English at home. It is crucial for all students to read widely on a daily basis so as to improve their literacy and fluency with writing.
Exciting news… the Fazioli grand piano has arrived at the school and everybody agrees it is the best piano in the building. It is a beautiful beautiful concert instrument, of huge benefit to the many talented pianists at the school. The cello and the double bass which will be purchased from P&C funds has been ordered.