Red Hill Primary School students Zachary Parnell, Clarissa Fuller, Andre Maras and Ryan Zaman. (ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)
Andre Maras picked up a saxophone for the first time only 18 months ago, but tonight he will perform in front of a full house at the ANU’s Llewellyn Hall.
The year six student from Red Hill Primary School is part of the Canberra Instrumental Music Program’s Bandstravaganza.
Tickets sold out in less than an hour for the event that runs over three evenings on Monday to Wednesday this week.
Year six student Andre Maras only started learning the saxophone a year-and-a-half ago. (ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)
Andre is one of 1,600 public school students taking part in Bandstravaganza, which includes students from year six through to year 12.
“I learned to play at school in band lessons but I also practise at home to keep my standard up,” he said.
Instrumental Music Program principal Naida Blackley said students were experiencing the benefits of working together toward a shared goal.
“Band is the best team sport you can do sitting down.”
At their combined rehearsal, students from Red Hill, Telopea Park and Garran Primary schools played three performance pieces together for the first time.
“The students only get one shot at a combined rehearsal,” Ms Blackley said.
“On night one, mixed ensembles, percussion, choirs and ukuleles take centre stage.
“Then the stage belongs to the concert bands for the following two nights of performance.”
Students from Red Hill, Telopea Park and Garran Primary schools met to practise ahead of show night. (ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)
The Instrumental Music Program has been running in Canberra’s schools since 1973.
“We’re now in 52 public schools and every year there are more than 3,000 students in our public schools learning an instrument,” Ms Blackley said.
“The program gives students the opportunity to receive tuition for two years at a very low cost and then be part of a band.
“It’s a concert band focus — we teach brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.”
Music teacher Rachel Allen says the experience will be unforgettable for the students. (ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)
Musician and teacher Rachel Allen has been working with many of the students in the primary schools band in preparation for their big night.
“It’s extra special when they get together because they get to hear all the various parts that have been missing,” she said.
“The brass groups finally get to hear the flutes and the clarinets, instead of counting rests.”
The schools concert band had just one combined rehearsal. (ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)
As part of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Ms Allen knows exactly what it feels like to perform in front of a big audience.
“I’ve tried to forewarn the students of how daunting it can be when they walk out on stage,” she said.
“I’ve told them how Llewellyn Hall is beautiful and it’s the biggest and best that we’ve got in Canberra.
“We’ve also talked about adrenaline and how it’s a good thing because it can lift their concentration and performance.”
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