Inspire your students in Education Week

Teacher and former opera singer Alison Handley shows how the Arts can build student confidence and passion.

​Performing in some of Europe's grandest opera houses has more similarities to teaching music to primary school students in suburban Melbourne than you might think. And former professional opera singer – now music teacher at Footscray City Primary School – Alison ​Handley says her students can even sometimes be a tougher audience.

"There's so many similarities about singing and teaching. You're in front of people, using your voice, trying to really engage and reach them," she says.

With Education Week, under the theme 'Celebrating the arts', fast approaching, Alison reveals how music inspires her students.

Getting students collaborating across the school

At Footscray City Primary School Alison conducts two choirs, runs a variety of instrumental ensembles, and teaches music to students from prep to grade 6. She's seen music instrument playing grow to almost 35 per cent of students studying.

"Every child has music in them, and every child is exposed to it every day," she says.

"But kids are often only exposed to the music their family listens to. So I've had kids with no classical background go home after we have explored emotion or tempo and have introduced their parents to classical music."

Applying lessons in music to literacy and maths

Alison says the benefits of music education reach across the curriculum.

"Beyond developing musicianship, there's research showing a link between musical understanding and literacy and maths, it's opening the mind to thinking in different ways.

"Music is an area that builds their confidence and focus.

"The arts and music is so important in so many ways. There's teamwork, the social aspect – if you're not sporty, where do you go to socialise at lunchtime? The choir.

"Singing and playing an instrument, physically, it's good for your health, your posture, your breath."

How your school can celebrate the arts

The Education Week theme 'Celebrating the arts' promotes the successes of students in the arts and can help build their confidence and passion.

Running from 20 to 26 May, Education Week is also an opportunity to show parents and the community all the innovative activities that happen every day in your classroom.

An online schools planning kit has been developed to give you fresh ideas to kick-start your celebrations, help you plan creative and fun ways to immerse your students in the arts, and showcase their outstanding achievements. See: Schools Planning Kit

There is a range of exciting and interactive arts activities happening across Victoria to celebrate Education Week. See: Calendar of Free Activities

Let us know what activities you're attending and share your stories and photos using #edweekvic on social media or email: education.week@edumail.vic.gov.au