This month, Kalamunda Christian School Music Director and accomplished musician, Anne Wheat, opens up about what music means to her:
Whether we choose to do music or not, music is absolutely everywhere and we unknowingly participate and respond. Nothing touches the heart like a beautiful piece of music. It is a potent emotive force that has the power to influence the way we feel and it has been a lifeline throughout my life.
I was not born into a musical family. In fact, my mother and siblings all work in the medical world. I began learning the piano at age 8 and was one of a few chosen to learn the flute at my public school when I was ten. My mother said I always enjoyed music and it became a passion in my high school years. I completed an Associate in Music Australia (AMusA) in flute at UWA and performed with various orchestras and ensembles. Originally my aim was to earn a living by performing, however in my third year at uni, I met my husband, the world spun and we were soon married.
Our first son Daniel was born two years later when I was teaching at St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School. Nathan and then Rebecca soon followed. I was tutoring in flute and clarinet at another SCEA school when my husband became incredibly ill for a significant period of time. At that time it was unknown if he would survive or not. It was a horrible time and the future was incredibly uncertain so it was an enormous blessing when I received a phone call from Gavin Nancarrow (then) Principal at Kalamunda Christian School in 2009, offering me a teaching position.
Around this time, my oldest son also had a work place accident resulting in a head injury. This has resulted in the debilitating problem of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EMH). Even today, he cannot go near wifi without being in excruciating pain. Unfortunately, this kind of head injury seems to be largely unknown in Australia (although it is a recognized problem in America and England.) We continue to trust God for his complete healing.
I play the piccolo, flute, clarinet, saxophone and piano and enjoy keeping up my own performance skills outside of school. I am a founding member of Vivo Music, play in the WA Charity Orchestra and a group called Faith Hope Love Joy.
I also love composing and arranging for the children I teach. A particular favourite with the children at Kalamunda was a piece called the “Bumbling Burglar”, where the students in one of our bands played music that told the story of a robber burgling a house and a policeman who manages to catch him. A couple of teachers dressed up to act out the story while the band played. The children loved it!
Once a year, Kalamunda Christian School hosts a two-day Performing Arts Workshop held at a nearby church. Instrumental students from other SCEA schools are invited to come and join the workshop, and it is a great skill building opportunity for children to meet and play music with others from different areas. All children are assigned an ensemble to play in for the two days. The Training Band (children who have learnt their instrument for one year or less), Performing Band (children who have learnt their instrument for 1 year and over) or the String Ensemble (violins and cello’s of various experience levels). The two days then consist of tutorials, ensemble practice, recreational/team building activities and good food. The music given to students at the start of the workshop is completely new and the children get to learn this music while having fun over the two days. This culminates in a special concert on the last night, showcasing what the students have managed to accomplish. The support and help of teachers, tutors and parents within my own school, as well as music teachers from other schools, has been of invaluable help in making this workshop a success.
What I love about teaching music? I love the fact that music can provide an emotional release valve and allows students to be creative and express themselves. I love seeing them feel good about what they have accomplished on their instrument. Music can be a wonderful self-esteem builder and I am blessed to share my passion for music with the children. My experience in the music industry has proven that music can be used for good or for evil.
I believe my role is to represent God in the best way I am capable of and uphold Him through music.