Signs of success as choir steps into the spotlight

Students from across the State are embracing the chance to perform using Australian Sign Language.

A group of students in a choir with the conductor using sign language in their performance A group of students in a choir with the conductor using sign language in their performance
Image: A show of hands: The signing choir performs at the Primary Proms. Photo: Anna Warr.

Words were not enough at the Primary Proms this year as the Combined Schools Signing Choir made its debut performance at the event.

Fifty-five students from across the state used Australian Sign Language (Auslan) inspired signs to perform the songs ‘Evening Star’ and ‘I Was Here’ at the Town Hall event earlier this week.

Among the performers were brothers Angus and Ryan Young from Coonabarabran Public School, who travelled 480 kilometres for the big night and nine students from Mulwala Public School, who travelled 650 kms – with their teacher and many of the students visiting Sydney for the first time.

Coonabarabran Public School principal Lucy Evans said Angus, in Year 6, and Ryan, in Year 5, who are both deaf, were absolutely thrilled by the opportunity.

“Being part of the signing choir has really empowered their use of signing … and really helped to make that solid link between school and signing,” Ms Evans said.

The brothers had performed the song for the school since returning to Coonabarabran.

The choir includes students who are deaf, Deaf or hard of hearing as well as students with an interest in learning Auslan.

Arts Coordination Officer Susan Dawson said it was fantastic so many schools had a interest in teaching Auslan and supporting creative opportunities for students who were hearing impaired.

Ms Dawson said whole classes at Regentville Public School and Warnervale Public School had learned Auslan and joined the choir to support their classmates who were hard of hearing.

Signing Choir director Rhonda Hughes is a retired teacher from Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School and was elated at the chance to lead such a large group of diverse students.

Among the choir supporters was a School Learning Support Officer, Larri Monkerud, from Strathfield South High School, who was part of the Signing Choir in Schools Spectacular as a student.

Auslan is a unique language form with its own grammar and structure, using a variety of handshapes, orientations, movements, expressions and gestures to convey meaning. It is the third-most popular interpreting language in Australia.

Primary Proms was held this week and featured a series of concerts that included a Combined Primary Choir of 450 voices and instrumental items from Years 3 to 4 students from public schools across NSW. The Kakadu Concert has been rescheduled for Thursday 27 October 2022.

For information on Primary Proms or to get involved with the Signing Choir contact The Arts Unit’s music team.


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