John and I always love going to Bathurst. It was where we did our first workshop together and we always take the opportunity to catch up with the friends we have in the area. The high school has a strong music program, built by a dedicated teacher, Andrew Smith, who first met John when he was a young student going to jazz camp. He now encourages his students, and his own children, to come to jazz camp and get the same great experience he got.
While I taught my new arrangement of “Caravan of Love” to the choir members, John enjoyed hearing Swing Factor in their workshop and is confident that this is a program that will continue to thrive. As well as having a junior band within the school, Chill Factor, the area has several primary schools with strong music programs that act as a feeder program. A few years ago, John helped set up a combined primary school’s big band called Serious Fun. Students from 6 different primary schools put forward their top music students to audition for places in the band, and they rehearse and perform together on a regular basis. The first group of students to come through the program have now graduated from high school. They earned great marks in their HSC exams, and one of the students has been accepted into the Generations in Jazz Academy in Mt Gambier to study for a year with Graeme Lyall. It really has proven itself to be an exceptional program for outstanding young musicians. It is now time to refresh the local interest in the program as these things need money to keep going.
To generate some interest amongst the students, John and I decided to do a 2 hour workshop for the local primary schools at Bathurst High School. Called “Musical Madness” we started with one of John’s crazy drum solo’s, then split the group up into instrumentalists and vocalists. The 82 students, from Blayney Public School and Eglinton Public School, had a great time and asked very thoughtful questions at the end of the workshop. Thanks also to Julia Ireland and Peter Hanlon for bringing their lovely students along. We look forward to seeing them again.