Teach and Inspire: Putting “Musical Notes into a Voice”

Moorambilla is proud of its ability to teach and inspire the teenagers of the region in its MAXed OUT Company. This Company is one of the reasons why it won the NSW State Award for Excellence in the recent APRA AMCOS awards.

Most MAXed OUT participants at the residential camps have a real hunger for the opportunity to live and breathe music and the creative arts. These opportunities are rare in the north west of NSW, impacted by scarcity of music teachers and a high turnover of them, poor school resources for music, and a culture that often prioritises sports over the arts for children, leaving them isolated in their creative endeavours. Many participants are unaware of the talent they have inside of them lying dormant, until they experience the intensity and artistry of the creative team at Moorambilla.

With Artistic Director Michelle Leonard, TaikOz percussionists Anton Lock and Graham Hilgendorf, and dance artists Ghenoa Gela and Eric Avery, the participants learn music literacy and rhythm.

Combining inspiration from Frank Wright's artwork, Eric Avery works with MAXed OUT students

Combining inspiration from Frank Wright’s artwork, Eric Avery works with MAXed OUT students

Artistic Director Michelle Leonard consults with dancers Eric Avery and Ghenoa Gela about the form of the performance

Artistic Director Michelle Leonard consults with dancers Eric Avery and Ghenoa Gela about the progress of the rehearsal

Dancer Eric Avery takes MAXed OUT through their paces for their performance

Dancer Eric Avery takes MAXed OUT through their paces for their performance

Annalyce Gordon, from Brewarrina, hasn’t had the chance to learn to read music before, and yet after only four and a half days of rehearsal, she is so inspired by her experience she wants “to go to New York City and perform at Madison Square Garden!”

Annalyse Gordon

Annalyce Gordon from MAXed OUT Company

The level of detail in the singing workshops demanded from the students forces them to articulate and think closely about speech. Laura Hamblin from Nyngan says she has learnt how to speak and pronounce text and music clearly – “I can speak posh” she laughs. As well as that, she has enjoyed the social part of camp.

 

Lara Hamblin

Laura Hamblin from MAXed OUT Company

“Meeting new people – working with amazing artists – people who have accomplished a lot in their own life, is a big part of the positive energy I have experienced here.” Laura says the camp gives her confidence to look to the future. She wants to keep singing – or to be a vet nurse or lawyer.

Yue Liang has been at Moorambilla for five years. Through this time he has learnt how to “sing properly”, and learn new songs. “Rhythmically I have learnt how to play drums and to dance – which is something I never thought I would say!  We all have something really strongly in common which is why we all get along. What most people think is cool is playing football and cricket –we all think music is cool.”

Combining dance, movement and percussion the Taiko workshops blend into performance.

Combining dance, movement and percussion the Taiko workshops blend into performance.

Learning the Japanese sword dance

Learning the Japanese sword dance with Anton Lock

Dance and rhythm in TaikOz workshops

Dance and rhythm in TaikOz workshops

Annabelle Park, from Coonabarabran says she doesn’t sing at home much, but she would like to sing more.  “Michelle has taught me about the different facial expressions you do when you are singing. I love the taiko drumming. The whole thing is a lot more fun than I ever expected.”

Domanic Lugli from Coonabarabran  has been coming to Moorambilla for seven years. “The energy here is so happy – everyone here is so happy and nice. I just want to be in this energy,” he says. Domanic says he appreciates the guidance he has received as he has grown through the program. “Moorambilla has helped me deal with certain situations that I have come across in my life – I’ve learnt how to act in amongst a large group of people and I have also learnt how to influence a group as well.”

Domanic Lugli

Domanic Lugli

Hayden Priest

Hayden Priest

Hayden Priest, from Gilgandra, has been coming for three years. He is fairly accomplished in music, having learnt piano at home, and has sung at school assemblies. Even so, he says that while the notes are there, Michelle has taught him about “putting musical notes into a voice”.

“Michelle tells you that you are a good singer, and that by singing you can find out more about yourself.” Hayden wants to be a chef and a singer – “a singing chef!”

Michelle Leonard teaches choral singing, incorporating it into the dance and percussion performance rehearsal

Michelle Leonard rehearsing choral singing and incorporating it into dance and percussion

Summer Rose Stingemore, from Cobar goes to music lessons twice a week at school and her whole family sings. “This is such a great opportunity in this remote area of NSW,” she says. “Michelle’s ability to teach us how to understand music is something I just don’t have enough time ever to say how much I value this.”

“I want to be a research scientist – so maybe I could be a vocal research scientist and Moorambilla will look good on my CV!”

 

Dance moves with Ghenoa Gela

Dance moves with Ghenoa Gela

Nathan Byron, from Geurie, has an incredible tenor voice, and is singing a solo at this year’s Gala Concert. He also plays tuba, and he is aiming is to go to Sydney Conservatorium of Music to study tuba or voice.  “I can’t say enough how much I have developed by being involved in Moorambilla. It’s awesome.”

“It feels like things have come together a lot quicker for me this year,” he says. “I got the Taiko sequences, got the dance choreography, and got the clever vocal parts.”

The last word goes to Pat Skinner from Trangi, who has been at Moorambilla for four years. He says, “Michelle has taught me to believe in myself and if you want to get somewhere you have to believe in who you are and she is instilling this in me.”

“I used to want to be a fire truck driver but now I want to be the first black prime minister.”

Taiko drumming - Pat Skinner on the right

Taiko drumming – Pat Skinner on the right

Youth Leader Justin Welsh supports MAXed OUT Company

Youth Leader Justin Welsh supports MAXed OUT Company in rehearsal

 

Text and photography: Lliane Clarke

 

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