Crescendo Program Gives Underprivileged Kids A Taste For The Classics

Gifts of violins bring orchestral flair to Perth’s outskirts

When nine-year-old Keira Heedes was younger, a music education wasn’t really on the cards.

“When they were at a younger age, it was like what kind of sports do youse want to play,” her mother Emma says.

But now, thanks to a program bringing amusic to disadvantaged areas of WA, Keira has discovered a passion for the violin.

“I want to keep learning songs,” she says, “that people play when we go to see the symphony orchestra.”

And it’s the WA Symphony Orchestra and their generous benefactors that she has to thank for her violin and the accompanying lessons.

The orchestra’s Crescendo program is introducing the well-established benefits of a musical education to children who would otherwise not get an introduction to instruments due to the costs involved.

For the past five years WASO have been working with two primary schools, North Parmelia and Medina, in the Kwinana area, where weekly incomes are almost 70 per cent less than the state average.

WASO’s teachers use songs and games to teach the kids how to read and write music. And this year, for the first time, the oldest kids were given a violin, purchased by WASO’s supporters.

“We currently have just over 300 students from pre-primary to year 4 in the program,” says WASO’s Cassandra Lake, “all of whom will be receiving one classroom music lesson every week and many of them will also be having a second lesson and that’s their instrumental lesson on the violin.”

And the program is having ancillary benefits right across the schools, with improvements in attendance rates, engagement and academic results.

“We teach them literacy and numeracy through counting, we’re teaching them motor skills, fine and gross motor skills through games and activities,” says WASO teaching artist Griffin Wright.

“It helps kids become a little more self-aware as well I think and becoming a little bit more self-aware really boosts their maturity and their responsibility and allows them to reach a higher potential.”

WASO are hoping to have the program running across all year levels by 2020, and they have big plans for expanding further in the future.

For Keira, the program has inspired her to aim to one day join WASO herself.

“I could just imagine myself being there when I’m older,” she grins.