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Teaching Music in New Zealand

Each week I worked at Owairaka, which is a suburb of Auckland on New Zealand's north island, was so incredibly different that it is hard to give an exact description of what a week might be like but here is a general overview of some of the things I got up to during my music placement in New Zealand.

Firstly a key: Kauri team - years 5-6, Puriri team - years 3-4, Rimu team - Key Stage 1

We had a relatively early start each morning, leaving the hostel at about 8am to walk to the bus stop for our 40 minute journey to school.

Mondays tended to be completely different each week, more so than other days because there were no music lessons on a Monday. The morning would usually begin waiting for fruit. The government in NZ provided fruit to the school for each child to eat every day. This fantastic scheme gave the children opportunities to eat healthily and to try fruit they might not have tried before. The fruit was delivered every two or three days and each morning a team of parents and us volunteers would count out portions of fruit for each classroom. The day would then include a number of activities including helping with some admin, doing some reading mileage in classrooms and supervising swimming. In the afternoon, Daniel (another music volunteer) ran a session for four children in Kauri team called 'Music Maker'. 'Music Maker' is a software programme that contains thousands of samples of music and enables you to create pieces from them.

Tuesday to Friday would be spent teaching music with Robyn (the fantastic music teacher at Owairaka) In the first four weeks of term we were focusing on the topic of 'ElasticOwairaka music lesson in full swings' which involved a lot of singing and dancing about lycra, making shapes, playing games etc. Music is the only lesson each week not taught by the children's form teacher. It is therefore a change for the children and gives the teachers an hour of well earned non contact. As well as helping Robyn in lessons, we ran two choirs, one for Puriri team which was a rather large group and so more like crowd control at times but incredibly rewarding to listen to their sound and one for Kauri team which was my favourite part of the week - they made such a beautiful sound and were so enthusiastic. I also ran a special music group for a group of Gifted and Talented children in Rimu team. In these we would sing and play musical games and had great fun learning more about music! Each break time Daniel and I would take ukuleles out into the playground and 'jam' with the children. Having never played the 'Uke' before coming to New Zealand, many of the children were far better than me but I worked hard and soon became competent enough to teach!

When not at school, our time as volunteers was spent seeing the sights Sightseeing round Aucklandaround Auckland such as Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto, and Mission Bay and experiencing the fantastic Maori culture Auckland has to offer. Once a week we would try and cook a big group meal which was great fun as there was usually about ten to twelve of us. We also went out to various restaurants we had scouted out - recommendations go to Mt Fuji (amazing Japanese place on Queen Street). BK Hostel is a great place to stay, it's clean and friendly and well situated within Auckland.

Sad to say farewell to AucklandAll in all I had a fantastic time working on my placement at Owairaka. The staff are amazing there and I felt immediately welcome. Having worked in a school in England for the rest of my gap year I have observed that there is a much more relaxed attitude to life in New Zealand. The children are amazing and I will remember them and my time teaching forever J

Bethan Thomas's placement in New Zealand was arranged with Travellers Worldwide.