A Note from Hollis in Warmun

Hollis Taylor with Jon Rose are Tura’s Musicians in Residence at Warmun, East Kimberley as part of Tura’s ongoing Regional and Remote residency Program. Hollis Taylor writes of their first week there.

Jon Rose and I are in residence at Ngalangangpum School in Warmun, halfway between Halls Creek and Kununurra. The local population is about 400+, with school enrolment at about 100. The school grounds are well set into the land—it’s one of the most enchanting schools I’ve visited.

Our residency began with an all-school outdoor concert with me on violin accompanied by Jon on his homemade ‘monochord.’ We started with bluegrass and Texas-style fiddle tunes. Then, Jon shifted to his tenor violin for a hip-hop jam session.

For the first two days, all students (from pre-primary through high school) were given a hands-on experience exploring the rainbow of sounds a violin can make. A key part of this residency is learning hip-hop licks and the sounds and rhythms of Australian birds, insects, and frogs.

The project benefits from 22 violins (full size, 3/4 size, and half size) that were recently donated to the school by Tura, and from the warmth and enthusiasm of the teachers, teaching assistants, and students. Many of the teachers/assistants tried their hand at the violin in the first week, and much like the Suzuki program of Japan, students really benefit when beginning adults give it a go.

At the end of each class, Jon and I looked out at a sea of violins, cases, and bows (we colour-coded each so that we could keep track of them). Then we would quickly make the rounds before the next class, tuning, rosining, re-attaching shoulder rests, loosening or tightening bows, and making quick repairs, as well as reuniting yellow violins with yellow bows and yellow cases.

The younger students are fond of posing for their photo at lesson’s end, even marching round a small table at the end of each class whilst playing rolling chords on their instruments.

Stay tuned for Week 2, when we have a plan for a rap in language (Gija). Jean-Michel Maujean arrives from Perth with some surprises as well.