I go into two Sydney schools where the kids do it tough. Many of these kids wouldn’t be taken to much – possibly, apart from footy games.
Four years ago, I asked the band from the Royal Australian Navy to come and visit to play a concert for the kids. I also arranged for a group of children to drum water bottles with the band – which was very loud – but the RAN band were hugely good sports about it. The concert was a HUGE success. Kids whooping, kids dancing, teachers grooving – and me grinning at the back of the hall.
Now the band has come to all the schools I’m in – including a school 800 kms west of Sydney.
The impact these concerts have had are enormous.
Children have had a FABULOUS time, listening to really good music, played by really good musicians.
Teachers (the unsung heroes of our society, in my opinion) have had a really good time.
Children have learnt about various instruments – the piccolo, the oboe, the bassoon – they’ve heard them, and seen them played.
And it seems the band have had a really good time too.
Here’s a video of some of the kids I teach playing ‘Watzing Matilda’.
RAN band and 30 big water bottles
The kids had such a great time! Kids walking off saying ‘That was the best fun! I was so nervous, and then it was so fun! It’s been the best day!’
The band have just agreed to come back to  both my Sydney schools.

It’s such a great day. The musicians are so incredibly professional. And yet, when the Navy want to cut back funding, it’s things like the band that gets the chop. Doesn’t make any sense in my head at all.

So many times people I talk to about my teaching tell me I should write a book. I think they do this for different reasons. Mostly, I think it’s because so many times I find myself in incredibly amusing situations that make a good story. Sometimes I think it because my stories of the kids I see are inspiring for those listening. Anyway, I’m not going to write a book. But I have decided to keep a blog. Maybe one day it’ll be made into a book. Maybe it won’t.

I am starting off 2013 with a new type of job. I’ll still be teaching. But not just kids. I’ll also be trying to write down what I do, in order to share it with teachers. Some of these teachers will be music teachers, and others will be class teachers with no musical training. I’m interested to see how it all goes.

Most of my teaching I do on behalf of the Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF) – www.acmf.com.au. They are a charity that takes music into disadvantaged schools. I teach kids, who for whatever reason, wouldn’t normally have the chance to get music lessons. They could be considered low socio-economic. They could be at a remote school. They could be at a behavioural school. But they aren’t the sort of kids who had the education that I did. Sometimes I work with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the ACMF. Sometimes I work for Mary McKillop International, mentoring music teachers.

I am constantly inspired by the people I work with – the teachers at the schools I visit are incredible people. I get extremely cross when I hear people slagging off teachers who work in the public sector. I am constantly inspired by the kids I see – listening to their stories, and seeing things from their perspective.

So this will be a diary, of sorts. I’m not sure if anyone will read it – but I’ll write it anyway. It’ll probably help to keep my head in order!