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Saturday, 27 November 2021

Music, Music, Music (and Kids With Typewriters too)

Zoë Barry and friends typewriting the script for “The Boy Who Loved Tiny Things”, a show Zoë partly created.This snippet was filmed while Zoë was driving into Melbourne in 2018.

Putting typewriters aside for a day, the undoubted high point of the past week was my stepdaughter, Zoë Barry, winning the Australian Recording Industry Association’s award for Australian Music Teacher of the Year. The ARIA Awards are this country’s equivalent of the Grammys. Zoë, a renowned cellist, teaches children – many the offspring of immigrants from South Sudan and Ethiopia – at the Sacred Heart School in Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne. Zoë is the first Australian Music Teacher of the Year Award winner from a city school. Sacred Heart has about 150 students - 95 per cent of them having English as an additional language and nearly all living in a nearby public housing estate. Some speak Vietnamese at home, others Arabic, others Mandarin, Dinka and Nuer. There are even a few students from Chile who speak Spanish.

Zoë’s win came on the third anniversary of the performance of Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter” by the National Capital Orchestra during a concert at the John Lingard Hall, Canberra Grammar School. Percussionist Veronica Bailey, herself a music teacher, "played" my poppy red 1971 Adler Gabriele 25 portable typewriter. Veronica has been the classical percussion teacher for the Australian National University’s Open School of Music since 2010. Like Richard Polt, I’m a little bit “over” hearing “The Typewriter”, but I'm especially piqued when people send me video links to overseas performances. I keep telling them that I’ve seen “The Typewriter” performed much better, and live here in Canberra, when one of my own typewriter was used.

At the end of the 2018 Canberra concert, children interested in music were encouraged to meet orchestra members and take a close look at their instruments - in some cases even to play them. However, by far and away the greatest drawcard for the youngsters was the typewriter, and even long after the musical instruments had been packed away, children were still milling around Veronica as she explained the workings of the Adler to them. The typewriter literally "stole the show"!

It was 65 years ago this month that the Parkview High School in Springfield, Missouri, performed “The Typewriter”.  Nathalie Smith was on typewriter and she was accompanied, from the left in the photo above, by Stephen James, Dorsey Dysart, Don Templeton and David Kollmeyer, members of the school’s first graduate class.

Meanwhile, children at my granddaughter's school here in Canberra have been on the TV news showing their typewriting skills:

1 comment:

Bill M said...

Congratulations to your Stepdaughter!
Put a typewriter in a performance and it will steal the show.