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The Project has already engaged hundreds of Indigenous children, most of them from remote towns in the Jawoyn region, east of Katherine in the Northern Territory. Whilst the overall outcome of improving the health of Indigenous Australians through music programs will take a long time to measure, the program has been extremely well received with consistent and maximum attendance.
Footprints funded the purchase of a variety of musical instruments and equipment for the Indigenous Music Project including:
These purchases were an integral part of the overall musical education program coordinated by The Fred Hollows Foundation. Teacher and songwriter, Shellie Morris visited and worked with students at schools in the towns of Jilkminggan, Urupunga, Bulman, Wugularr, Barunga and Manyallaluk. Intensive songwriting workshops comprising 8-10 students each were held for 2 hours each day over a 1-2 weeks period. At the conclusion of the week a performance would be held for local community including elders and other key community leaders.
Students learnt to write songs in the style of rap, pop and hip-hop. A key element of this process was the creation of lyrics using both traditional language and English. Lyrics created by the students were of relevant messages. The young children wrote of light hearted thoughts such as bush animals and movement, with the senior students expressing more serious issues in their songs such as growing up, grief and relationships. Traditional Indigenous songs were incorporated.
In this fun and creative environment students enjoyed the experience of learning to compose lyrics and music with the end goal being to perform their original works. The project developed the childrens’ literacy skills through music. It provided inspiration, a heightened sense of identity and greater level of self-respect for those that participated. Over time, it is hoped that this will lead to better health outcomes for these indigenous students.
The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue this program for a 3 year term. Improved attendance at school has already been recorded. We look forward to reporting in the future on the longer term outcomes of this project.
(Report posted: 13 Feb, 2009)