At the beginning of August Torres Strait song and dance group Wyniss embarked on a sold-out Musica Viva In Schools tour in Perth thanks to the generous support of Wesfarmers Arts and Rio Tinto.
Presented by Musica Viva In Schools in conjunction with NAISDA Dance College, the show focuses on how culture and knowledge are passed down through singing, dancing and play. Students are taught traditional songs, dances, and spinning top and string games from the Torres Strait to demonstrate that childhood activities can tell us a lot about who we are and where we come from.
The group traveled throughout metropolitan Perth, engaging with more than 5,500 students from 19 schools across 30 concerts. Some of these schools have been working with Musica Viva In Schools for over a decade, including Mullaloo Heights Primary School, in their 17th consecutive year, and Winthrop Primary School, in their 19th year with the program.
‘We are so thrilled to be able to work with Musica Viva to bring such sparkling musical talent into our Western Australian schools,’ says Wesfarmers Arts Manager, Corporate Affairs, Helen Carroll. ‘You really see how life-changing the gift of music can be when you witness the rapt attention of young children who find themselves transported by the experience of hearing Musica Viva’s fabulous artists and having the opportunity to make music together with those artists.’
This tour is also an opportunity for students in Western Australia’s largest city to have conversations and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, hopefully with an impact that lasts for years to come.
‘We get them to work with us and learn the songs and the actions,’ says group member Norah Bagiri. ‘I’m hoping they’ll remember the games we played with them. I hope, when we share our culture and our games, that they think “Oh, this is a Torres Strait Island game,” or “This is a Torres Strait Island dance.”’
Students have been preparing for the performances for months, thanks to an online digital resources pack supplied by Musica Viva In Schools that includes activities and cross-curriculum links to help teachers design up to 10 weeks of lesson plans. Built for both generalist primary and specialist music educators, each pack also includes online accredited professional development for the teachers.
‘It’s not possible to overestimate just how important the experience of music is to young minds. Musica Viva does incredible work with our community and especially our young people – we are so proud to be able to help support their innovation in music education,’ concludes Helen Carroll.