Performing Arts quick pivot enriches online education

Term two for schools around the country are shifting into gear, with a blended style of delivery that will include learning via online and interactive technologies, and face-to-face delivery. Performing arts companies' education teams across Australia have been working hard to adapt and develop new digital learning resources and events to support teachers and students' learning and engagement online.

Performing Arts quick pivot enriches online education


There have been many hurdles but goodwill, collaborative conversations with teachers and various education authorities, as well as can-do support from across the arts organisations including the many performers and technical teams, has supported rapid adaptation and innovation. A lot has been happening in a very short timeframe and more education resources and opportunities are on the way.

For example:

When SA moved education online, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) asked a select group of teachers for a wish list of what would really help. While teachers reported that they had access to plenty of junior school online music assets, its middle and senior school resources the teachers said they needed the most. One teacher said, "We need to keep our senior students engaged- if they could play duets etc. with members of the ASO that would be great." And so, the ASO is exploring ways in which they may be able to make this happen.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra is developing online resources for students and young people to engage with at home. For upper primary students, the existing ACO Music & Art Program is being adapted into a format of lessons for use at home – with each lesson, including listening exercises and visual art response. For string players of all ages, ACO is developing a series of 'masterclass' video tutorials, leading at-home instrumentalists through a string quartet movement – offering tips and techniques and 'play along' tracks. For younger listeners, ACO is working on adapting their early years concerts into a podcast format.

Bangarra Dance Theatre is developing a new digital program that has the potential to enable schools all over the world to view selected Bangarra repertoire and explore the processes involved in creating Indigenous contemporary dance theatre. In 2019, Bangarra launched Knowledge Ground – a comprehensive digital archive which serves to educate and celebrate all that is Bangarra and in 2020, Bangarra will be adapting its Winhanga-rra teachers' professional development program for online delivery. Bangarra is fortunate to have an existing library of digital education resources for use in classrooms, and freely available PDF study guides. Several productions are also available on DVD and a streaming platform for schools.

Bell Shakespeare has a range of teachers' packs and resources online, including performances of some of Shakespeare's greatest scenes and soliloquies available on ABC's education platformSPLASH). The company is taking their John Bell Scholarship national auditions online, as well as delivering workshops via Zoom including seminars with the University of Sydney. The company also launched a film festival for students about and inspired by Shakespeare that aims to reflect unique Australian communities. 

Belvoir Education is working hard to keep students and teacher connected to our work.Belvoir has an extensive range of rich online resources available on our website, many of which are being updated. They have also reached out to their teacher network to ask what resources would be of most value at this time. Belvoir is currently developing a series of video resources in directing, playwriting and production. Usually, during Term 2 alone, Belvoir Education would be delivering over 70 workshops in Sydney and Regional NSW. They are currently exploring the online options for their workshop programs.

Black Swan State Theatre Company is currently offering schools workshops via Zoom on design, physical theatre, monologues and improvisation. They are also planning a series of new digital workshops, so watchtheir space.

Malthouse Theatre is committed to finding new ways of supporting secondary students and teachers during this time. Their long-standing program for Year 9 and 10 students,The Suitcase Series is still slated to run in Term 3, and the team are working hard to make adjustments in the delivery design – moving some elements online while maintaining the core intentions of the program. The team are also working towards the creation of a short series of bespoke online workshops with a focus on VCE Theatre Studies and Drama curriculum. For students and teachers interested in Malthouse Theatre scripts and education support materials, there is a large collection accessible viaAustralian Plays.

Australian Plays are also excited to launch their collection of resources supporting educators around the nation. Developed by AP Education Curator, Meg Upton, they're designed as a mini-unit of work or series of lessons for students to do solo, in pairs and in collaboration. 

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is working hard to #KeepTheMusicGoing, with a new program of online content designed to create meaningful experiences for their audiences during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes streams of previous MSO performances, new chamber music performances, participatory virtual ensembles and a range of learning and engagement content for all ages. MSO is also creating a series of exciting and inspiring online concerts for primary and secondary schools with accompanying curriculum-linked digital resources providing an engaging introduction to the Orchestra, a great way to prepare before getting students to view a full orchestra performance. Additionally,The Pizzicato Effect, MSO's community music education program for students in the City of Hume Victoria, has been restructured for delivery online. While much of the company is in hibernation, MSO musicians will continue to work with their education team to develop more new resources throughout the COVID-19 shutdown period.

Melbourne Theatre Company, in a first for the company, will live-stream a performance its 2020 Education show from Southbank Theatre directly to schools in Term 3. Thanks to its long-running partnership with Virtual School Victoria – Australia's largest provider of distance education – MTC is well-positioned to support remote learning with no-cost access to interactive online education resources for all Victorian students. Highlights include avirtual tour of MTC's set/prop/costume-making departments, live Q&As with MTC creative artists, and bespoke videos on acting, directing and other production roles for VCE Drama and VCE Theatre Studies. Throughout term 2, MTC will use video-conferencing and online classrooms to deliver its popular Regional Enrichment workshops and Young Ambassadors programs.

Musica Viva in its entirety has pivoted in response to COVID-19 social distancing to support the education team's development of a whole range of digital music resources to support students learning at home, teachers and parents, free online professional development sessions for teachers, and transforming the music incursion program into live, interactive online performances which can be delivered into classrooms or homes. The dedicated Strike A Chord – National Chamber Music Championship team have new and exciting ways to carry on with Strike A Chord 2020 including extending entry date, removing entry fees, and moving the coaching program and grand final online.

Opera Australia is releasing content online to help students learn more about opera. These includelistening guides that introduce the music of particular operas; ashort documentary about designing, building and rehearsing a new production; and a look at the history of Australian opera productions. On Monday 4 May, a new initiative will be launched that will include full-length performances and behind-the-scenes content.

Opera Queensland has an ongoing commitment to learning across Queensland both in schools and to the wider community. FiZZ!andHansel & Gretel,both operas created specifically for primary school audiences in collaboration with Shake & Stir Theatre Company will be available for free streaming into school classrooms and students homes across the country with curriculum links and student activities. Live online sessions with the artists will be available allowing the students to talk to the artists both in and out of character. Online learning content is also being created for Queenslanders of all ages including Learn an aria at home and remote chorus workshops.

Queensland Ballet is committed to keeping the magic alive through supporting educators with free access toonline classroom resources including a range of production notes and videos, activity sheets, flashcards, and teacher resource kits. QB has also released a series of freeonline community classescatering for people of all ages, abilities and experience levels to keep engaged during this time.

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra's education team has been working with various stakeholders to transform live activities into digital engagement events. This includes working with the Department of Education regarding digital content creation in support of the instrumental music curriculum and the musicians are in the process of filming short resources supporting all levels of instrumental teaching. Content is also being created that will enable students to play-along with QSO musicians in a virtual band, orchestra or string ensemble. A partnership with University of Queensland has been re-worked to include remote mentoring and coaching with QSO musicians, and a set of 72 orchestral excerpt videos targeted to support tertiary student orchestral training. Resource packs of learning activities are being sent to schools affected by concert cancellations.

Queensland Theatre is normally in the midst of its largest education offering,The Scene Project, encouraging drama students throughout the state to engage in the creative process of performance, from rehearsal through to presentation. The QT education team  reacted quickly to schools moving to online learning and devised an entirely digital Term 2 unit of work. Content in the program includes the video of a rehearsed reading ofWisdom by David Burton, learning activities, video workshops from leading teaching artists and sample assessment tasks. Queensland Theatre has also adapted their Young Artists' Ensembles to an online format for Term 2, developing the artistry of students through weekly virtual workshops.

State Theatre Company South Australia education team has been working extensively with teachers to meet online learning and assessment needs. The team worked with Digital Theatre+ and Frantic Assembly in the UK to offer a free limited stream the 2016-17 co-production Things I Know To Be True, which will enable senior students to complete an essential part of their Drama assessment.The company is working with contracted artists and staff to create new online education resources, and existing resources are also being refreshed. The Flinders University Young Playwrights' Award will continue to go ahead, with playwriting activities released online.

Sydney Dance Company has not only successfully moved public dance lessonsonline, with classes led by a combination of their regular casual teachers and SDC company dancers, they have also shifted the entire Pre-Professional Year Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses online. Sydney Dance Company is offering online dance workshops for primary and secondary students from Term 2 onwards, accompanied by free dance education resources. The Youth Ensemble program for young dancers aged 12 – 18 from across NSW, along with partner high school, McDonald College's senior contemporary dance program is also being delivered digitally.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra , with music teachers in mind, is sharing content shaped around the current syllabus to help teachers keep their virtual classroom inspiring. Each week the organisation will release a variety of teacher's kits, classroom activities and resources free of charge during this period. 

Sydney Theatre Company is offering their cohort of teachers who have previously participated in the School Drama program (from 2009 to 2019) professional learning opportunities focusing on adapting drama-based strategies for digital delivery. STC has also adapted their Connected: Adult Language Learning Through Drama program (for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants) into a digital delivery model.

Sometimes timing has a silver lining, for Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's creation of their onlineTSO Learning Destination, the culmination of many months of industrious work, has just been completed and is now up online for teachers, students and life-long learners to access. Videos and activities support learnings areas of Science, Technology and The Arts.

The Australian Ballet's STEAMDANCE primary and secondary education program is now live and online to support Australian teachers and students during the COVID-19 restrictions. STEAMDANCE explores science, technology, engineering, arts and maths through dance, and works in partnership with teachers to select engaging themes for students. Students can take part in live warm-ups to get active and keep fit, participate in games, and create dances, routines and cool-downs with professional dancers. The second element of the program allows students to view a professional performance given by our educators, based on themes of resilience. All schools need to do is sign up, and TAB can take it from there.

While Victorian Opera has had to cancel their live schools' performances of Cinderella, they will continue to deliver their program for Primary schools,Access All Areas:Livestream Program. Over four live-streamed workshops, students will explore the artistic and creative elements unique to opera, hear opera singers perform arias from a variety of operas and meet members of the creative team, before watching an archival recording ofCinderella from Victorian Opera's 2016 production filmed at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. The entire program is accessible online and, in 2020, free to all primary schools to support teachers working remotely. Visit

West Australian Ballet has reconceptualised what engagement looks like for their stakeholders and community, not only for now but also in establishing online engagement that's sustainable into the future. WAB's very successful Adult Ballet Classes have moved to live, online delivery, keeping people across the world active, creative and connected. WAB will be providing secondary schools with educational resources to support the upcoming streaming of the company's work. They'll also be providing support and tailored content for dance schools to assist in keeping dance students connected to their dance school community.

West Australian Opera is committed to sharing the power of music even in challenging times and while they are away from the stage and classrooms, they are continuing to work in the ghost light. The company recently launched theirGhost Light Digital Series of free online programs for learners of all ages including online singing classes, podcasts, playlists and more.

West Australian Symphony Orchestra WASO Education has also movedonline, having created engaging and inspiring digital resources and content to help support teachers' and students' learning journey.

Many resources are also available through Scootle.


Education, MPA Activities, News