A life to sound of music

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Year 6 choir students Lincoln Mayor, Michaela Liddle, Blaize Toigo, Jack Jukic, Polly Jones, Jade Treasure and Miranda Maus, with teacher Andrea Roper.
Camera IconYear 6 choir students Lincoln Mayor, Michaela Liddle, Blaize Toigo, Jack Jukic, Polly Jones, Jade Treasure and Miranda Maus, with teacher Andrea Roper. Credit: Holly Thompson

Manjimup Primary School music teacher Andrea Roper has hit all the right notes when it comes to teaching her students and inspiring their passion for music.

Andrea is trained as a primary school teacher and said her initial interest had been science.

“I sort of fell into teaching music, I taught across the State but when I came to Manjimup I was already doing a lot of music with my students,” she said.

“Some teachers around me said they would teach health to my students if I taught theirs music so I ended up doing a few classes, which then led to the school asking me to properly teach music for the whole school.”

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Andrea now takes music on Monday and Tuesday for Years 1 to 6, and then is in a classroom with her Year 1 students on Thursday and Friday.

She has been at the school since 2003 and said she could not think of a job better suited to do.

On top of teaching music two days per week and her Year 1 class for another two days, Andrea also teaches the choir students at the school.

Her choir is made-up of students from Years 4 to 6 and Andrea said each year she had about 80 students express interest in joining up.

“We have choir on Tuesday afternoons and there are so many students taking part it’s just wonderful to see,” Andrea said.

“We do not have auditions or anything like it, you do not have to be perfect, you just have to be keen to work and come along once a week.”

Andrea and her choir is now well-known in the community and they often sing at a variety of events around the area.

“Every year we arrange for the choir kids to go down and sing at the big Anzac Day service in town and I have been doing this for well over 10 years now,” she said.

“I also take the choir kids over to Moonya and to the Home and Community Care Wellness Centre for their community functions.”

Andrea said she believed it was important to get students to work within the community and to get to know people they might not normally interact with.

However, Andrea also gets the students involved with music events outside of the community.

“I also take the group up to Perth each year and they sing at an event called ‘One Big Voice’,” she said.

“There are loads of other kids, around 4000, all singing together at the RAC Perth Arena.”

Andrea heads up to Perth first to learn which songs she needs to teach her choir students and which voice type they will be singing in.

“Different choir groups will be singing in different voice types and so when it is all put together it sounds amazing and very well choreographed,” Andrea said.

“It is just fabulous for the kids because they do not really get a chance to do anything like this normally and they get to meet others from all around the State.”

In between these kind of events Andrea still makes sure her choir gets a chance to sing, whether it is at the Cherry Festival or the farmers markets.

“People will call me up and ask if some kids could come along and sing at their event and if there is any way possible to do so, I will make it happen,” she said.

All her work with the school’s music program meant this year she was nominated for citizen of the year.

“It was a real honour and it was very nice for someone to nominate me, I appreciated it a lot,” she said.

“It is nice to be nominated for doing something I love, it is so nice to listen to them all singing together, you just get goosebumps and I just think of all the endorphins which are flowing, I think that is part of the reason they come back every week and sing their little hearts out.”

Andrea also said she kept in contact with her students after they left primary school.

“When they leave and go to high school there is no such choir for them to join and they come back and tell me they really miss singing,” she said.

“I would love to start something up at the high school but timetabling can be really difficult and the only day I have free is Wednesday, but maybe getting something organised for after school could be a possibility in the future.”

Other plans in Andrea’s future include learning more about mixing music and keeping up with all the latest technology available to teach music.

“I just think I am the luckiest person alive, I am not going anywhere, I love it,” she said.

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