A wealth of new research into music’s cognitive and developmental benefits is emerging. And the takeaway is clear: music programs matter.
In 2018, Southern Cross Grammar (SCG) took the initiative to bolster their own music program. How? By asking us to design and install five prefabricated pods – one for each music teacher.
We recently sat down with SCG’s Head of Strings, Samantha Abela, to chat about how these dedicated music rooms are helping teachers and students alike.
In a recent article for The Conversation, academics Rachael Dwyer and Anita Collins stressed that “we need to see music education as a powerful complementary learning experience”.
Some schools do. In 2014, one study found that 88% of private schools offer robust music programs. But as Samantha Abela, who’s taught violin at several schools, attests, not every school is fit-for-purpose when it comes to music.
“At my last school, I was teaching in a basement,” she recalls. “Beautiful school, beautiful facilities, but there was no sunlight, no cellular range… It wasn’t an ideal environment.”
Then, when she moved to SCG in 2015, Samantha got a modest classroom upgrade.
“The school was small when I started; it’s much bigger now. But for a while, I taught in a room that didn’t have much ventilation.”
So when SCG invested in its suite of Harwyn music rooms, Samantha and her colleagues were ecstatic.
“I was one of the first to jump into them. The fresh air, the sunlight! Getting these pods was just the best thing for us.”
A sound choice
One of the greatest benefits of a Harwyn pod is how easily they can be installed and relocated.
SCG had the freedom to place its music rooms where it made the most sense. In this case, it was away from the main campus.
But the choice wasn’t purely aesthetic: it means that students can practise their instruments without disrupting their cohort.
“I used to teach right next to another classroom when we taught inside the main campus,” Samantha explains. “You wouldn’t think a violin would be that loud, but we use electric violins – plus backing tracks – so it can get quite noisy.
“Naturally, we had a few noise complaints from other teachers.”
But each music teacher now has their own dedicated, separate music room – affording them and their students the freedom musicians need.
“Having these pods away from the school has eliminated that noise interruption. No one complains about how much noise we’re making.”
Consistency and clarity
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) identifies several key elements of a focused and positive learning environment. They include:
- An inviting, attractive learning space
- A sense of order and organisation (in both the space and lesson structure)
For Samantha, Harwyn pods tick both these boxes.
“Kids really need consistency to feel like they’re in a safe environment. It’s important for them to keep coming back to the same place.
“Since this pod is all mine, the kids always know where they can find me. And I can keep all my belongings here.”
And as far as attractive learning spaces go, Samantha couldn’t be happier.
“Having a teaching space like this makes a huge difference to your mental wellbeing. The design is clean, it’s put together really well… It’s just a happy place.”
Music rooms change music programs
When asked if she would recommend that schools invest in dedicated music rooms, Samantha responds resolutely.
“Definitely,” she says. “It changes the dynamic of your music program. At our school, all of us music teachers can meet outside each other’s spaces to talk about our days.
“Our entire music team is happier and more motivated since the pods arrived. I’m so grateful to the school for investing in them; I wish every school could have this opportunity.”
Want to invest in your school’s music program? With acoustic insulation and customisable features, Harwyn pods are an ideal choice for teaching spaces.
To learn more, call 1300 Harwyn (1300 427 996) or enquire now.