I’m currently conducting some workshops with schools in Victoria this week as part of my Fairfax Festival commitments. I’ve just completed two days of work with Kalianna Special School (Bendigo) and I’m now enjoying a rest day in Shepparton before I commence another two days of workshops with the high school here. It’s been an enjoyable and tiring couple of days so far – lots of travel, workshop planning and working with a small group of early/late-teen students.
Since I haven’t really had any formal experience working with this demographic, this has probably been the most challenging aspect of the workshops: keeping things interesting, getting the kids engaged and maintaining attention spans. To their credit, the kids in Bendigo were fantastic to work with and seemed reasonably enthusiastic about what we were doing. When attention spans began to genuinely flag we were thankfully approaching the end of the day.
With the presence and assistance of the Fairfax’s Adrian Corbett, we managed to cram a fair bit of activity into each of the days, including microphone demonstrations, focused listening, analysing and categorising sound; sound design with objects and an excursion on our second day to the Bendigo CBD where we made some hydrophone recordings of a fountain and went in search of the main park’s resident bats.
The end product will be a collaborative audio work which will encapsulate the unique soundscape of Bendigo, with reference to some of the area’s historical precedents using sound effects and sound manipulation. The students will be using sound recording equipment accessible to them (mobile phones, ipads, etc) to make their own recordings during the one-month period between workshops. The free audio editing program Audacity will be available for them to use on their school computers, where they’ll be able to edit some of the sounds they’ve recorded as well as sounds created/recorded during the workshop sessions. Along with my own recordings, I’ll incorporate the student’s contributions into the final work to be presented at the Fairfax Festival in Swan Hill during September.
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The workshops at Shepparton High School should follow the same plan, but with maybe a few adjustments to suit the location (and of course the temperament of the students.)