EXCITED three to eight-year-olds, together with a 50/50 mix of parents or grandparents, trooped down the stairs of the NLA to be directed towards the Paperplate Cafe where tables of colouring-in pencils and Blinky Bill pictures awaited their arrival.
Ten minutes later, with artwork done, William Barton sat himself in the centre of the floor and expertly played his didgeridoo to imitate dingos and a family of kangaroos, not just bouncing along but even doing some moon walking!
William then explained how he makes his music on the hollowed out stick and demonstrated the array of sounds that he can make. The little ones were fascinated and treasured drawings were quickly forgotten. Mr Tim appeared and, like a Pied Piper, he led as we headed off to the theatre. Here a collection of percussion instruments, a piano and a variety of clarinets lay in wait as Mr Tim started telling the story of Blinky Bill.
The players arrived accompanied by sticks, rocks and rattles giving us sounds of the Australian bush and soon Mr Tim was in full flight telling how Blinky Bill was born, lived in his mum’s pouch for eight months then learned how to pick and eat gum leaves. We followed his life adventures right through to a big birthday party with music all the while enhancing the story and stimulating youthful imaginations.
And the music (except for a little bit of “Incy Wincy Spider” towards the end) was not nursery rhyme fare but contemporary classical music by great Australian composers Elena Kats-Chernin, Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, Matthew Hindson and others.
What a clever way to expose the young to the delights of such music. It was all simply accepted as part of the Blinky Bill story and that was perfect.
Ensemble Offspring made the music fun and most listenable with Claire Edwardes navigating a clutch of percussion instruments, Jason Noble making characters of animals with his clarinets and Zubin Kanga using his piano to create atmosphere and mood.
As a bonus at the end of the musical story the players explained how each instrument made its music and just how different sounds can be created. Then it was an audience march back to the cafe where percussion instruments of all sorts were laid out inviting youngsters to play them. No second invitation was required!
This was a lovely little concert, well structured to introduce the very young to music quite different to their everyday listening and it succeeded in spades. Well done to all involved and especially to the CIMF for assuming responsibility for this informative aspect of education.