Child’s Play Comes of Age
In 2006-2007, the RCM Arts Committee had the idea it would like to offer instrumental music tuition to a group of children who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
Discussions in the Arts Committee began in trying to see where we might find such a group of children. This search led Rob Nethercote to refer the Committee to his daughter, Jane, who had worked as a volunteer tutor for the Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning (SAIL) Program every Saturday morning for 6 years along with 300 other university students who act as tutors to Sudanese children and parents. SAIL provides a program of English and other activities to assist the integration of Sudanese children and their parents into Australian life.
Through contact with SAIL, David Kram identified two children from one Sudanese family and Nusaiba and Mohamed Abdelgabar who, with Baker Foundation funding were to receive instrumental tuition for year. Members will remember these two performing with Erica Tucceri at a Rotary luncheon and they have proved to be such a good choice, they are still on the Program.
Based on initial success with these two students, the Arts Committee decided that it would like to provide instrumental tuition to 10 children and sought further funding from the Baker Foundation to provide an 8 week introduction to classical music and instruments with the SAIL Xtend Program.
From this Introductory Program provided by Rebecca Lane and Erica Tucceri, thirteen students were identified as having the interest and aptitude to receive and benefit from instrumental tuition for a one year period. After a year, four of these students were further identified to receive a continuing scholarship and that is where the program is today.
Whilst the program started with SAIL, Child’s Play is now a stand-alone Arts Committee Program with David Kram and Erica Tucceri providing the instrumental tuition.
From the outset, Child’s Play was designed to provide a wide base of experience for a group of students and then refined to give instrumental tuition to a small number. All of that has been achieved but two expectations of the program had not been fulfilled until recently. Now it is only one.
The first of these expectations was to take the students to an orchestral concert and recently Erica Tucceri took the students to a concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre and she reported: “They were quite taken with the venue, the musicians and the conductor, and all had lots of questions which we will continue to follow up on in our lessons. They each had their own favourite pieces and instruments, and it was already clear how valuable it was for them to see a live orchestra; recognising the instruments, understanding how they work together, seeing a very high level of musicianship, and getting caught up in the atmosphere and dress code.”
In effect this last part of the jigsaw means that Child’s Play has come of age and the only remaining hope is that one day one of these students may play in an orchestra similar to the one they saw at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
The Rotary Club of Melbourne and its partner, the Baker Foundation, can feel justifiably proud of a program which has delivered and continues to deliver on its expectations.