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Musical incursions

This is the season for scheduling Musica Viva primary school concerts and I'm here to help. I pop in to the office to chase phone contacts in Queensland schools and encourage bookings. After 13 years of touring, and five years of working in the office, I feel I can help.

Since 2002 Musica Viva has toured us all over the country. Every year I go travelling and singing with Anje West, Barb Fordham, or sometimes Alison St Ledger. We call ourselves 'Gypsy Tober'. We (roughly) calculate we've visited over 500 primary schools. And odd to say, while every school we've been to has the same goals, in their own way all are quite different. Each one has been a cultural singularity. There are obvious differences in geography and societal terms: from the temperate inner suburbs of Melbourne to the red earth of Arnhem Land, from elite private schools to remote community schools, from the the snowy roads of Tasmania to the lush mountains of North Queensland, the kids and the schools reflect their environment. But the biggest contrasts come from the internal culture of the community. Schools with the least facilities may yet have the best morale.

Our group has favourite qualities: we don't like the show to be too easy, we want to see some spirit in the students; we love it when they already know the songs we are sharing, it gets really exciting when we all sing together; and we rejoice in the offer of a cup of tea. Simple stuff - but when you're travelling as many miles as we do the little things are the most important. We've got some pretty funny stories out of the travel. Ask us about it sometime. We've only every lost an audience twice (I can't tell you where or why) so that's not a bad fail rate, but we never forget those shows. We like our job, we like the teachers, we love the students, and we never take an audience for granted.

This year it's a month in the Northern Territory and in a new first for us, they say we'll be popping over to Hong Kong. I'll be needing a passport at this rate. But you know what - I reckon I'vebeen to lots of places in Australia that are more exotic and culturally remote than Honkers is likely to be.

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