Connecting to Country through the power of music

Students at small schools on the Central Coast have produced a song and dance video to strengthen their connection to Country. Sven Wright reports.

Five children wearing headphones. Five children wearing headphones.
Image: Students from Peats Ridge Public School sample life in a recording studio for their contribution to the Central Coast small schools’ Connecting to Country song.

Music often has many associations, but few songs will have as deep a meaning as one recorded by students from six small schools on the Central Coast.

The Rumbalara Environmental Education Centre (EEC) worked with the schools to write and record a song about connecting to and Acknowledging Country called 'The Country's Alive'.

The schools involved were Peats Ridge, Central Mangrove, Somersby, Kulnura, Wyong Creek and Jilliby public schools.

The project started in 2021 and was partly funded by a NAIDOC Day grant.

Rumbalara EEC Principal Christine Freeman said the support of the community was critical to the project’s success.

“A local producer, Burger Legs Joe, arranged and recorded the backing track with the EEC, and Tim Selwin, an Aboriginal man, ran a workshop on what ‘Country’ means, helping the students develop ideas to go into the song,” she said.

“Unfortunately, COVID interrupted production until this year, but it now includes an acknowledgement in English by local Aboriginal student Sierra Stanley, and welcome song in language by Elder Gavi Duncan.

The vocals for the song were recorded at Kariong Mountains High School with music teacher Kane Burns. Each school group recorded its own verse and the chorus.

“Students’ own dance moves and Aboriginal dance developed by local Aboriginal man Jonothan Wright were incorporated into the video version,” Ms Freeman said.

“We are very proud of the students’ and teachers’ work, and very grateful for all the local support we’ve received in creating a song that speaks directly to the meaning of Country and its importance to all of us.”

The students who recorded the song have also performed it in public to share the significance of its message.

Students from six small schools on the Central Coast perform 'The Country's Alive'.
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