Charlestown locals, Chris and Sarah English, have embarked upon a new business, launching a primary school music education initiative in the form of The Music Bus.
Chris and Sarah are passionate about music education and bringing progressive musical initiatives to the area. Chris is a high school music teacher at Warners Bay High, recently launching the annual high school HSC performance initiative ‘Reprise’, teaching privately for many years and having a long standing music performance history with local artists and Sarah is a Marketing Specialist at Greater Building Society.
The Music Bus provides small weekly group music lessons at primary schools held in a hi-tech mobile classroom ‚Äì with the teacher, the curriculum and the instruments included in one complete package, at a low cost of only $15 a week to parents.
The concept has been in operation since 1999 in the Sydney area, built from the ground up by mother-of-5, Fiona Sutton. With over 3,000 children taking part in weekly lessons across the state and over 200 schools.
Sarah says that they already have seven Lake Macquarie schools on board who are excited to be able to offer their students fun musical learning which they may not have otherwise been able to – with very limited musical resources available in most cases. Schools so far include Blacksmiths, Speers Point, Edgeworth, Hillsborough, Belmont North, Cardiff North and Wiripaang Public Schools; with many more interested in getting started.
“We believe The Music Bus is one of the most exciting developments in children’s music education in Australia,” Sarah said. “The big yellow bus signals the start of music fun for students who get to learn singing, drums, guitar, keyboard and ukulele in small groups ‚Äì all inside a wonderfully high tech music bus – instruments, curriculum and teacher included, at no cost to the school.”
The Music Buss Lake Macquarie route is led by Ben Pittman, who has a BA Music and is a multi-instrumentalist, and has also been teaching privately at schools for many years.
“I’m so excited to be given the opportunity to teach on this amazing Bus,” Ben said. “As soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect. It’s going to give so many children in the area an opportunity to learn and enjoy music in a really fun environment; and so far, the kids are loving it!”
Principal at Edgeworth Public School Jennifer Parke, said that community response to The Music Bus has been overwhelming with more than 10% of the student population at Edgeworth Public School enrolled in the program.
“The Music Bus is fun, exciting and engages students in a wide variety of musical experiences at all ability levels and areas of interest including instrumental and vocal,” Jennifer said. “While it is only in the early stages of introduction, we have noticed the students’ delight in seeing the bus arrive at the school and their eagerness to participate in the lessons delivered by Ben, one of the highly motivating and extremely professional music teachers.”
Image | Christopher English, Sarah English, Benjamin Pittman
Image courtesy of AJM Photography