Kelburn Normal School has a rich performing arts programme which provides learning opportunities for all students and also aims to nurture their diverse talents and needs.
Our performing arts projects and groups range in their purpose; from encouraging participation and belonging, to boosting learning power and individual talent.
Underpinning all these activities is a philosophy that values the aesthetic dimensions of learning: this is indicated in our first strategic goal with its emphasis on creativity as a key feature of our curriculum development.
Our goal is that learning in and through the arts becomes a persistent and unifying practice throughout our school.
Choirs and Singing
In total, nearly half our students have the benefit of singing in choral groups, enriching both the individual students and the school's culture as a whole.
Numerous children sing in the all comers choirs: Piccolo, the Tuis and the Fives.
Our senior choir, Lyrica has made guest appearances with the NZSO, a youth orchestra and the Bach choir. Last year our school production was Pinafore Pirates; we chose the college version as a challenge. Members of Lyrica provided leadership and acted as tutors for the rest of the cast
The overall strength of singing in the school is demonstrated not only by Lyrica, but in performances by groups such as the senior kapa haka club, and the choruses in our school productions.
We continue to balance our goal of achieving choral excellence with inclusiveness in singing; the boys are singing with gusto, and are well represented in the three all comers choirs.
A current initiative is songwriting; we have a mentor working in the school music enhancement programme, as well as our band teacher.
Songs are also being entered in a contest, and the band will perform the winning song at the school's annual Talent Quest.
The instrumental tuition scheme continues to flourish: we have excellent teachers and see spin-offs for developing the school culture.
There are currently eleven tutors offering lessons in piano, singing, guitar, drums, band, recorder, violin, viola, trumpet, horn and trombone. Around 160 students learn an instrument or take singing lessons through this scheme, during class time.
The community has a chance to hear the progress for themselves at our wonderful annual Musical Refreshment; further demonstrations of achievement will be clear at the musical production and the Talent Quest.
Our instrumental ensembles provide further dimensions to musical training, and augment what can be done in classroom music programmes.
One goal is that the knowledge and skills acquired by the students will benefit the mixed ability groups they work in, in normal class music. The more proficient students already act as tutors in a variety of contexts; leadership opportunities are provided in choir practices and in rehearsals for shows.
An especially valuable flow on effect of musical ensembles comes from children of mixed ages learning to work together on challenging tasks. The orchestra, for example, has members from Year 4-Year 8.
The ensembles range from the band, to violin, guitar, recorder groups and the orchestra. We now have twenty-five regular members from 8-13 year olds, and are looking forward to playing at the upcoming unveiling of a waharoa, a beautifully carved gateway to our gully reforestation project.
Those who heard the orchestra play at a recent teacher farewell recognised and enjoyed the progress we'd made.
Drama and Dance
From the junior school upwards, teachers use drama as a learning medium todifferent degrees, to boost their literacy programmes. Learning in drama and dance continues to also be taught by specialist teachers throughout the school as part of rotations or classroom programmes. A common theme to all has been the way drama and dance are beginning to enhance these programmes.
Our goal is not only to develop arts literacies, but also provide fruitful links with the revised curriculum, which stresses multiple literacies and is performance driven. The senior's 2008 production "Pinafore Pirates" sailed in this direction. All such arts projects depend on, and enjoy, community and BOT support.
Drama club has 35 members from Year 7&8. Its members have a drama session once a week in terms one and two. In the second half of the year we build up our sessions as we devise and work on our annual show.
During 2007 we used a working theatre as a classroom for a week, leading up to the performance of the play "Never Never", a phantasmagoria,. The quality of the children's performances was highly satisfying and gave the younger students in the school something to aspire to. This project gave the special dimension needed to cater for year 7&8's high visibility, as well as the paradigm of learning using aesthetic literacies.
Last year's project "Teaspoons" was devised byt the whole group; it was a zany satire on the end of the world and the students showed great creativity.
In 2008 the whole school took part in the powhiri and unveiling of the gully's waharoa. The Lower Middles led the waiata at the powhiri; additionally the whole school sang the song Te Tarakihi accompanied by the orchestra and massed guitar ensemble.
In the past an outside teacher took kapa haka; we are now fortunate to have a staff member with the knowledge to co-ordinate and develop this programme throughout the school.
Urban Setting and Performances
Attending performances enhances the learning we do in school. As well as watching and listening to visitors to the school, attending events like last year's International Festival of the Arts provide new and inspiring contexts.
The setting and focus of the school allows us to build relationships and work with cultural organisations like the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the NBR Opera.
For example, during holidays in 2008, 20 students took part in a costume and set design workshop at school. Their work, associated with the opera Hansel and Gretel, was displayed at the city's Opera House, and the children were given a tour of the set and dressing rooms, as well as attending a performance.
Visual Art Programmes
Visual Arts in the school are learnt in the usual variety of contexts. In the Lower Middles and Junior syndicates visual arts are used to enhance other arts programmes. For example, extensive art and craft was involved in last year's wearable arts show, as well as rich opportunities for oral language development.
In the Upper Middles and Senior syndicates making visual art is also an important part of our various productions, apart from its important role in everyday classroom work. The UpperMiddles were pumping as they sewed, cut, and glued props and costumes for last year's Pinafore Pirates.
Visual elements feature strongly in children's action learning projects and in the drama club's work. An informal art club has begun in lunchtimes as an enhancement activity.