Protect the Future of the Music Program at Chatswood High School

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If you would like to support the thriving and always growing Music Program at Chatswood High School (CHS), please read below and show your support by signing our petition.

The Chatswood High School Music Program has built up an extraordinary reputation over the last 40 years and has attracted numerous families to the school.

Chatswood High School’s extensive co-curricular Music Program includes more than 16 ensembles, over 25 tutors and conductors, and more importantly about 300 student participants from year 7 to year 12. There are 14 rooms currently used by Music students before and after school, which include the Music Studio (Annex) and the Hall which accommodate the larger ensembles of approximately 70 students. Some of the senior ensembles accompany HSC students in their HSC performance exams which require rehearsal space and a place for the performance assessment.

Over the last 35 years different ensembles have travelled around regional NSW to educate, perform and collaborate with numerous schools, making an invaluable contribution to the growth and learning experience of the students in these regional schools.

The students of Chatswood High’s Music Program have also represented the school overseas. International achievements include: the first school group from Australia to perform at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals (1996); second place at the international Youth and Music Festival in Vienna (2004); a European Tour in 2009 and a tour of USA in 2018, highlighted with an exceptional performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. The outstanding achievements of the Chatswood High Music Program are highlighted on the Music Program's Website.

The Music Program regularly hosts weekend music concerts incorporating community music ensembles, local public schools and NSW Department of Education Arts Unit Ensembles in an effort to enhance, collaborate and connect musicians and encourage growth and excellence in this field. Over the past decade, the Music Program has hosted an annual Primary Schools Band Festival, with upwards of 50 school ensembles competing.

Musicians and Vocalists from the Music Program have been involved in the Arts Unit Ensembles and the Schools Spectacular. The program continues to produce outstanding young musicians, many of whom go on to study and work in music in their careers.

The Department of Education - School Infrastructure has plans for the re-development of the high school site as an Education Precinct.

We want to ensure that during the construction and post construction our Music Program can continue at the same high level it is today with room for growth in the future.

To date not enough details have been provided on the real impact on the Music Program both during and after the construction.

The building of a new school precinct provides a fantastic opportunity for the school community and Music Program. We would like to ensure the facilities created are the best possible for our students and the community who benefit from them.

If appropriate facilities are not provided during and post construction, there is great concern by parents and students for the future of the Music Program at Chatswood High School. The consequences of any impact on the Music Program will not be limited to the high school students. 

We ask that the NSW Department of Education – School Infrastructure satisfactorily address the concerns listed below.

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Our Concern:

Insufficient consultation with Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) staff and students to determine the needs of the Music Program.

What We are Seeking:

Approximately 25% of students (years 7-12) participate in the Music Program, hence standard Department of Education requirements are insufficient for our current and future CAPA requirements.

Our Concern:

The ongoing viability of the Music Program may be adversely affected during construction of the new buildings.

There seems to be minimal comprehension of the needs of the Music Program regarding provision of spaces for ensemble rehearsals, performances, instrument storage and tutoring that will be required during construction.

What We are Seeking:

We seek assurance that during construction there are sufficient suitable locations allocated for:

  • Ensemble rehearsals
  • Performances
  • Performance exams
  • Instrument storage
  • Tutoring
  • Exhibition of Student work

This is paramount to ensure students are not placed under undue stress due to the transition, especially students undertaking their HSC.

Our Concern:

Insufficient consideration has been given to the significant number of spaces required for the Music Program including daily before and after school rehearsals.

What We are Seeking:

We request assurance that the NSW Department of Education will consult closely with the CAPA Department before finalising the internal layout and interior designs. In particular:

  • Dedicated music teaching rooms
  • Dedicated rehearsal spaces for large ensembles
  • Secure storage facility for music instruments and stands within easy access of  rehearsal spaces
  • Performance space located within easy access of rehearsal spaces
  • Suitable spaces for before and after school music lessons

All of these spaces need to be both sufficiently soundproofed and located away from general teaching spaces and staffrooms.

Our Concern:

The new hall to be built on the Primary School/Middle School campus has not been designed as a performance space but as a multipurpose gymnasium which does not meet the Music Program’s need.

What We are Seeking:

We seek assurance that the facilities required in the new hall/performance space include:

  • Permanent stage large enough to seat a 100 piece orchestra
  • Change rooms and toilets backstage with access to the stage
  • Wings and stage curtains
  • Permanent rigged lighting
  • Professional sound desk and equipment
  • A kitchen with a serving area to cater for events and performances (additional to the student’s canteen)

The hall needs to be designed with acoustics in mind as a gymnasium doesn’t generally have good acoustics for music performances and recordings.

If the hall is to be divided between the Primary and Middle School, the above facilities need to be accessible from the high school side.

Our Concern:

There is no need to have two “gymnasium” style halls within the precinct.

What We are Seeking:

A theatre style hall/auditorium built on the Senior Campus with tiered seating, a permanent stage with state of the art lighting and sound equipment, changing rooms/toilets and storage would be of more benefit to our senior students.

This facility would be unique in enhancing learning experiences and music performances, musicals, drama performances, lectures and presentations etc.

Our Concern:

The allocated hall space is not sufficient for the needs of both school’s music programs.

Both schools have sizable music ensembles and it is inevitable that at times they would both want to be using the hall at the same time. Noise disturbance and distraction is a major concern.

What We are Seeking:

We seek assurance that there will be sufficient soundproofing to ensure no disruption for both sides of the dividing wall when using the hall at the same time.

Our Concern:

The Music Studio is less than 6 years old and may be demolished.

What We are Seeking:

The Music Studio (Hall Annex) was built for the music department as a specialised music room. This building was partially funded by the P&C and a grant obtained by the P & C. It is modular and could be relocated and used.

Our Concern:

A possible WHS risk to staff and students in having rehearsal and performance spaces on different floors and in different buildings and campuses.

What We are Seeking:

We require rehearsal and storage spaces to be within easy access of the performance spaces as moving large equipment between various floors and across campuses could pose a serious risk to students’ health and safety as well as potential for damaging expensive instruments.

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The Music Program at Chatswood High School is renowned for commitment to music excellence. Over the last four decades, this program has had many achievements and made invaluable contributions to the local community, regional schools in NSW and lives of thousands of students who have passed through the Music Program. The program is an asset to the school and the community as a whole.

Please join us and help save the future of the Music and Performing Arts programs at Chatswood High School by signing our petition.