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Inside Teaching : June 2011
Inside Teaching | June 2011 CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 40 themselves as individual players and as ensemble members, parts of a team. RL: The film focuses on two individuals, Emily Sun and Iris Shi. Emily expresses her frustration, to camera, at having to articulate her emotions, and seems to take it to mean a lack of confidence from the music staff in her playing. She even says that ‘Mrs Carey never thought I was that fantastic.’ How does it make you feel to see that? KC: At first when I saw that, I took a deep breath. I wasn’t cranky or upset that she felt that way, I just felt sorry that she did, because my motives were entirely the opposite. I was confident in my assessment of her, and confident in myself. I always saw her, from the time she came in at Year 7, as someone with enormous potential. The journey for me was to help her realise it, emotionally and technically. She was the soloist of an orchestra, and a children’s orchestra at that, and I wanted to make sure that she could articulate to the orchestra what this music was about, for her. There are a lot of gifted students who go out and get recordings and they just copy another artist’s interpretation of a piece. I wanted Emily to know that she was a lot better than that; she was a person who was capable of making judgements for herself and going into herself to find her own way to play a piece. And it happened, eventually. The orchestra was really interested in what she thought about it, and really wanted her to succeed. And even after we did that performance in the Opera House, Emily’s emotional connection with that piece went on another journey, and she did that performance for her high school certificate. (Emily Sun is currently studying on a full scholarship at the Sydney Conservatorium but will go to London later this year to take up a full scholarship at the Royal College of Music.) RL: You can see some of Emily’s journey in the film. Towards the end, she says that the music department shaped her for the better, and acknowledges that she brought her problems to your doorstep, but you persevered with her. Did that make you feel validated? KC: Yes, it did. We have lots of students, particularly gifted students, who go through this extraordinary journey, and go on to do magnificent things. They’re not all wonderful angels; they do teenage things like everybody else does. They’ve got to discover themselves, and it’s part of our job to keep them on the right track until they do. RL: Not all students are angels – and that brings us to Iris Shi. Iris is difficult throughout the process, but the film implies that she performed respectably on the night, and even that she was moved by the concert. Is that an accurate portrayal? KC: Iris was a girl who rebelled about every aspect of school life, not just music. She was an intelligent girl and I was hoping that she might see the light. If she had chosen to, she was quite capable of sitting there with her mouth shut and doing nothing – but she didn’t do that. I think she did sing in the end, and she did it of her own choice. I think she became caught up in the moment. I’m glad she did, and I secretly like to think she is too. RL: What has been the impact on the school of being involved in the film? KC: The school is seeing the film as a wonderful tool for transforming learning. A lot of teachers find dealing with gifted children very difficult. It is hard to work out what they need, what they can do, and how to fulfil them. One of the advantages of this film is that a lot of the staff across the school are seeing Emily’s journey, and it’s helped the whole community of MLC to really understand what some of these girls need to grow. The film has highlighted that gifted students do need special consideration. Gifted musicians do need special nurturing. I also get emails from ex- students who’ve seen the film,