29 May 2015

Groote Eylandt Welcomes Songwriters Jodi Martin & Pete Arthur from Stamp Music

I clapped my hands together like an excited kid when I spotted 'Stamp Music' scrawled onto week 6 of our giant whiteboard calendar in the staff room. Although their annual visit is centered around inspiring students to compose and record their own collaborative song, last year I took great pleasure in being part of the experience.

Stamp Music was created by muso, composer/sound engineer Pete Arthur. With a side-kick who's equally as talented and vivacious, the duo travel to various parts of Oz (largely remote), working with children of all ages to help them produce their own original song. 

Pete seems to have a knack for finding uber cool assistants; this time bringing a stunning beach babe called Jodi Martin.

Watch the below video clips to witness the whimsically talented Pete and Jodi.

Back at school, I'm in awe of what the duo can achieve within a two hour session. To get the students pumped up and eager to have a go, Pete and Jodi spend little time introducing themselves before strumming their acoustic guitars and launching into an original feel-good song. Their contagious smiles help create a safe space for students to join in and sing along with their peers. Both times Stamp Music have visited now, I've really enjoyed watching my shy students get involved. I find myself analysing their facial expressions as they seem so hesitant and insecure, yet ecstatic to be a part of it all. Moments as such are so important for these students; allowing them to experience what it feels like to freely contribute without the attention or judgement of others.

My class wrote a song about Groote Eylandt. The lyrics 'I love Groote Eylandt, best island in the world' formed part of the chorus. The upbeat tempo reflected our playful, energetic nature and during recording, each word was sung with conviction. 

After small groups and individuals have sung their part into the microphone, Pete has the laborious job of piecing it all together and making us sound like sassy superstars. He works late into the evenings so that students receive their song only days later. The prompt turnaround makes the whole experience more exciting and satisfying, as the creative process is still bubbling and brewing in our mind. I can't wait to hear the polished version next week.

Later in the year, a three day festival is held on the island to recognise and celebrate the long-established culture of the Anindilyakwan people. The festival 'One People, One Voice' showcases a number of local bands, Indigenous art & craft and the cooking of traditional Aboriginal foods such as turtle and dugong. On the Friday night, students from all four schools (Alyangula, Umbakumba, Angurugu & Milyakburra) are invited to sing on stage as a choir. Each school selects one of the class songs produced with Stamp Music to perform in front of a very diverse crowd. Some time before the festival, one of the four songs is chosen for the creation of a music video, which will be projected onto the stage for the finale. The video features groups of students from all four schools singing each verse. It also incorporates significant aspects of life on Groote Eylandt and promotes inclusivism among residents. The song brings everyone together, as they sing out proudly in unison on the night. 

Below is the music video and song 'One People, One Voice'; produced for the festival in 2013.

Pete and Jodi are inspiring personalities to say the least. I've been lucky enough to catch up with them outside of school hours and get to know them a little better. I must admit, I'm a little envious of all the fascinating projects they've been a part of and can only imagine what they've gained from those experiences. They are the type of people I think everyone aspires to be; genuine, confident, friendly and devoted to their life passions.

Now it's time for me to go watch them play a gig at the local pub. 

Below is a link to Pete's business website, Stamp Music. 


6 May 2015

Allan Clarke Speaks Frankly About Inequality in Australia

I came across an article by Allan Clarke on Buzz Feed today. It calls for greater tolerance and acceptance of all races; particularly towards our Indigenous Australians (see below).

Clarke reels off some shocking statistics such as it being "more likely [for an Indigenous person] to be sitting behind bars than sitting in a lecture hall" and that although "Indigenous people only account for 2% of the population, they make up almost 30% of the Australian prison population." While I'm sure most people would agree that these statistics are terribly sad, I also think that most wouldn't be overly surprised or feel personally motivated to do something about it.

I highly recommend watching the clip so that you can get involved in changing the statistics. By simply taking control of your own thoughts and actions in public, you are creating positive change by allowing others to live free of discriminatory judgement.

That's why Reconciliation Australia (RA) have put forth a new nationwide initiative focusing on individuals changing their perceptions of Indigenous Australians. RA calls for everyone to be more mindful of their actions and reactions towards others based on their heritage. Although it's natural to build up perceptions based on what the media feeds us as well as our own past experiences, some times these perceptions can led to subtle racist gestures that we don't even mean to outwardly project. The below youtube clip released by Beyondblue shows some all-too-common examples of subtle racism. What may be just a fleeting moment within your day, may be one of many reoccurring instances amounting against someone's self esteem and worth based on others' perceptions they have absolutely no control of.

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