Bringing Music to the Kimberleys

Musica Viva Australia is proud to have the widest reaching education program in the country, reaching over 170,000 students in person every year in locations from Hobart to Nhulunbuy, and from Perth to Byron Bay. This May the team embarked on an inspiring journey to the Kimberley region, reconnecting with schools and teachers in Kununurra. Led by our Professional Development Manager, Melanie McLoughlin, with WA State Manager, Helen Dwyer, this trip focused on rebuilding connections to bring the joy of music education back to remote areas.  

Melanie McLoughlin led a face-to-face professional development (PD) workshop at East Kimberley College (EKC) in May, the first in-person PD in the region since 2018. Teachers from East Kimberley College, St Joseph’s School (Kununurra), and Wyndham District High School engaged enthusiastically in various musical activities and interactive sessions.  

Professional development is very important to teachers across the country. They love to share ideas and also gain new ideas for activities that they can use in the classroom.

Melanie McLoughlin  

The workshop provided valuable hands-on activities, encouraging teachers to keep it simple and focus on engaging students through music. The positive feedback underscored the importance of such professional development opportunities, especially for generalist teachers looking to enhance their music teaching skills. 

Lean more about our recent trip below.

We don't have very many opportunities for face-to-face professional developments nowadays. We live so far up north in a remote area, and it's really special when people do come here. It's great practising with experts in a nice supportive environment before then showcasing it to students to help them learn.

Marion Roberts, Assistant Principal, St Joseph's, Kununurra, West Kimberley  

Photography by Nathan Dyer

Photography by Nathan Dyer

Meanwhile, MVAIS ensemble Rhythm Works’ latest tour has taken them to remote parts of the Northern Territory, visiting Alice Springs, Darwin, Nhulunbuy and Katherine before meeting up with the team in Kununurra.   

Kevin Tuck and Elijah Shepherd are Rhythm Works, a dynamic percussion duo who create visual images through music – like lizards, waterfalls, road trains, and carnivals -- using a range of instruments from African djembes, marimbas, electronic loop machines, boomwhackers, and wearable instruments made out of PVC pipe.  

‘When we come to see remote schools, we realize that some of these children have barely ever seen live music before. We focus alot on imagery and storytelling, and that approach has really worked well with this audience', says Kevin.   

Elijah and Kevin in many ways embody the mission of Musica Viva Australia. Based in Adelaide, their commitment sees them travelling vast distances to share music with children all across Australia. Whilst their performances focus on using percussion as a storytelling device, it’s their enthusiasm for music that truly inspires.   

‘For me the highlights are always in little moments. The moments when the children come up to you and say “I could do this". They can see they can actually be involved in music, they can learn music themselves, and compose their own music.’   

See for yourself the inspiring impact of their recent Kununurra tour and how students are loving the dynamic Rhythm Works show. Enjoy!