Summer Reading: A touch of magic in Banksia Park

by SARAH HARRISON

IN Leeming we have a true wizard in our midst.

I know, I’ve seen her at work and she has mystical powers.

Our wizard wears black to do her most important work and uses a wand.

She does not believe she does anything remarkable but those of us who see her at work think differently.

Our wizard has a name, Annette De Hoog, and she weaves her magic in Banksia Park Primary School as the band teacher.

Unusual

The band program at Banksia Park is slightly unusual among public schools in Perth; our children are not tested beforehand to see if they possess any musical ability and they begin to learn in year four – a year earlier than many schools.

They have a term of tuition before they first come together as the ‘junior’ band for rehearsals once a week.

Anyone who has ever learnt an instrument or lived with someone who did, knows that music is the last word you would use to describe the noise made in the first few months.

Some parents banish children to their rooms because the sound is so awful.

But then a transformation occurs – the One Night Only concert at the end of the year.

It is held in the least glamorous and acoustically awful of venues – the school’s undercover area.

The stage is flat, so if your child doesn’t play flute you are not going to see them.

Cacophony

Nervous parents enter wondering what cacophony awaits them, the children look confident if fidgety, and then Annette lifts her wand and magic happens.

The sound is incredible; in a fantastic combination of her belief in them and their trust in her, they pull off what everyone thought impossible.

They keep in time, everyone manages to play almost all the right notes, the tune sounds like you expected and everyone glows with the achievement.

Next year they will be back, playing as part of the ‘senior’ band with music that  most high school bands avoid.

The pride is even greater and the glow even brighter.

And they will turn up every Friday at 7.30am to practise.

Here is the magic: one small friendly-but-fierce woman convinces children of mixed musical abilities they can do something amazing and they do. Magic.

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