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Top Up

Classical Quintet Topology, the Queensland State Award Winners for Excellence in Music Education at the 2015 APRA Art Music Awards, have teamed up with The Smith Family to deliver Top Up Music Education workshops in Darwin schools this August, culminating in a special performance at Darwin Festival. Top Up brings together students and professional musicians, allowing them to explore, create and perform new music. Christa Powell and John Babbage from Topology spoke to Off The Leash about why the program is important, and why classical music is for all of us.

Why is it important to teach classical music to all school children? 

There is so much irrefutable research that shows a direct correlation between kids' engagement in music and their academic performance. Whether it's learning an instrument or experiencing a live performance, music and creativity have powerful effects on the brain – it improves problem solving and lateral thinking, promotes discipline and patience and has an overwhelming effect on one's overall well-being and mental health. Music and music education are beneficial to all young people on a very fundamental level, so any music experiences, not just classical, should be accessible 
to anyone no matter what their background is.

Can you tell us about the work you are doing with Darwin students, as part of this program?

We've been working with students from a few different schools over the last few months, helping them compose songs and instrumental works in preparation for a big performance at Festival Park. The two classes at Wagaman Primary School are writing one song per class, while there are some students from Casuarina Senior College who have formed smaller groups or are writing songs on their own. We've also been working with Sanderson Middle School, Ludmilla Primary School and Manunda Terrace Primary. We're also really excited to have one of our Launchpad Composer mentorees from Darwin, Phoebe Wear, performing some of her original songs. It's going to be a great concert!

What have you gained from the experience? How have you seen students benefit?

It's been an exciting ride working with young people across the country, writing songs and igniting each person's natural capacity for creativity. Every student is different but we've found that their reaction to the workshops is always the same – once they've gotten over their fear and self-doubt they create some really beautiful music and come out of it all beaming with pride.

Sun 27 Aug | 6.30pm & 8pm | Rimfire Energy Bamboo Bandstand, Festival Park | |

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