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Grand donation leaves college students on a high note

Hellyer College grand piano

Hellyer College students have been exercising their musical talents on a newly-acquired instrument helping develop their performances and technique.

The University of Tasmania recently gifted a Kawai grand piano to the school after discovering it was the only Department of Education College without one.

“In the past we have had upright pianos, but as professional grand pianos cost tens of thousands of dollars, it’s never been an instrument the school has been able to afford,” Hellyer College music teacher Michael Bousfield said.

“Year 11 and 12 is a time where students can specialise in any field, including music, so it is important to have up to date and specialist equipment available.

“The donation has enabled us to offer a much higher standard of instrument for our students, who are really enjoying it.

“Students can now play more advanced performance pieces as they should be played, because a grand piano allows for certain techniques and emits a greater depth of sound.

“It is a very special thing to have and we very much appreciate the donation.”

Brian West, Lecturer in the Music Program at the University, said the act of kindness had also been underpinned by the University Connections Program (UCP).

The pathway is offered at a number of secondary schools, including Hellyer College, and allows aspiring professional performers to undertake introductory university units at the same time, or in addition to their TCE studies.

“Over the years Hellyer College and the North-West Coast has been a supporter of the University Connections Program, producing many fine musicians, some of whom have continued their studies at the Conservatorium,” Mr West said.

“A comprehensive audit of instruments was completed when we moved to the new Hedberg building. It was decided to donate some of these to the community, with a particular focus on supporting UCP Colleges.

“The program has a state-wide ‘remit’ of ensuring equity for all students, and that one region or one school should not be disadvantaged.

“Having a quality instrument is a huge advantage and a motivating factor for students, and not only for the person playing the instrument. It also provides support in an accompanying role to many other musicians.”

Presently, two Hellyer College students are undertaking the UCP, with a further 70 studying music.

“The UCP enables another step up in the curriculum for students, so rather than those in Year 12 repeating the same advanced ‘Music 3’ course again, they can instead progress to the University offering,” Mr Bousfield said.

“It’s an important link to further musical study and an opportunity for students to expand and grow in music.”

The grand piano is presently being housed within Hellyer College’s Drama and Performing Arts studio, with the school keen to explore ways the instrument can help grow its arts program and enable community use.

The University also recently gifted an upright piano, harpsichord and spinet to Elizabeth College, and earlier in the year string instruments, including small violins and cellos, were donated to the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra.

Pictured from left; Hellyer College Year 11 students Francesca Backhouse and Sarah McCauley

Published on: 13 Nov 2020 4:20pm