Yamaha Music Australia has announced it’s second annual Great Start Grant – a nationwide initiative that will see one school awarded a $50,000 music grant, plus an exclusive performance from Dami Im, Australia’s X-Factor winner and most successful Eurovision entrant.
With the potential to help foster creativity and build social connections, Yamaha is searching for Australian schools in need of a helping hand to get their Music Performance Program off the ground. All they have to do is explain why they deserve it the most! last year Apollo bay College was the recipient of concert band instruments, a prize which has made a significant difference to that school’s music program and the kids who play in it. This year, the prize has a broader prize base in regard to the type of instruments offered.
The $50,000 Great Start Grant includes:
• $45,000 worth of Yamaha instruments — equivalent to 42 brand new Yamaha instruments/equipment
• 1 day of training from Peter Wardrobe —Yamaha’s Education Specialist
• A launch concert at the winning school from Dami Im
• PLUS: Consolation prizes worth $2,000 in value shared between another two schools
We asked Australia’s leading band expert and Yamaha’s Education Outreach Clinician Dr Rob McWilliams a few key questions about the Great Start Grant
What could the $50,000 grant do for the music department of a school?
The grant will enable a school who has all the other necessary elements to make best use of this giveaway (fully supportive administration, committed teaching staff, student interest, appropriate physical plant (classroom space, etc.), and all that is missing is the available funding to get the equipment. This is where Yamaha steps in and completes the picture with the grant!
What comments are you hearing from students, parents and teachers at Apollo Bay P-12 College, which has already benefitted from this program?
The Yamaha Giveaway that Apollo Bay P-12 received was slightly different in that it was a grant of concert band instruments (this year’s grant is geared to a more “commercial” music type of program). However, the impact is very similar in that it has given many students in the Apollo Bay area a special opportunity to learn an instrument and participate in a school concert band. The whole school and broader community has been excited and grateful for what this grant has brought to them.
What are the benefits of being involved in a large school band?
The benefits of involvement in learning musical instruments are wide-ranging and significant. More and more research points to the unique benefits of instrument learning as they relate to brain development. It turns out the brain is uniquely active in many different places when we undertake this activity. Playing an instrument also engages our emotional selves in a significant way – music is often considered the “language of emotions” and this is such an important part of growing up and understanding the human condition. Furthermore, involvement teaches and develops many very important “life skills” such as empathy with others, teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, and so on.
Also many studies on academic achievement show that students who have been involved in music achieve, on average, at a higher level. A primary school in England that was considered a “failing” school in 2010 on just about every objective measure (achievement, attendance, academic standards, etc.) responded by adding music into their overall curriculum wherever they could, as well as giving every child music lessons, etc. The result was a complete turnaround such that that school now *exceeds* national averages on all of the objective measures!
What advice would you give to someone who would like to play music but is not sure about what instrument they should choose?
I would advise speaking to an “expert” in the field of music instrument teaching & learning (e.g. a music teacher) as well as doing some actual exploration or “trying out” on some possibilities. Students can be more or less suited to particular instruments based on their personalities, musical aptitudes, physical attributes, etc. What we do know is that there is a suitable instrument for everybody!
What advice would you give to a child who has started to learn an instrument but is struggling and believe they’re not making progress in their music playing journey?
Hang in there! It is part of the learning process to experience learning “plateaus” at various times when you just don’t seem to be making progress, etc.. These are usually followed by more rapid improvement “spurts” so you just have to keep at it. The benefits are well worth it!
How important is it to begin learning with a quality instrument?
This is really important as a poor quality instrument will hamper progress and also tend to suffer breakdown, lack of durability, etc. If you invest in a good quality instrument at the start and take appropriate care of it, it is not unusual to get close to the price you paid if you do need to sell, upgrade, etc. This means it’s a “no brainer” to make a wise choice of an appropriate, decent quality instrument throughout your instrument learning journey. Once again, seek expert advice and be *very* wary of instruments sold online (unless you can verify that they are appropriate quality/condition) or in stores where their main business is non-music items – e.g. groceries, etc.
There are many reasons why someone would join a school music program … the social aspect, learning for fun, learning with a career in music as the goal … What realistic goals should students set themselves to begin with?
Just set out to do your best, enjoy yourself, and learn at your optimum pace. The most important key to practice is *regularity* – a little bit often is always better than larger chunks too spread out. Most people who learn instruments will not make a living as performing musicians, but they can have a lifelong participation and enjoyment of it and get all the same benefits as anyone else.
What’s the main criteria for the school which will be chosen for the major prize? What factors do you take into consideration?
Applications that demonstrate that the other key components (supportive administration, excellent teaching staff, physical plant, student interest, etc.) will be considered more favourably. Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel of experts, including outside of Yamaha, to choose the winning school. There are also two “consolation” prizes for the next closest candidates.
Victorian schools wishing to apply must complete the online application by March 16th. For full details please visit http://greatstart.yamahabackstage.com.au/giveaway