Collaborating for House Music

Our theme this year at Carey is collaboration. In the Middle School, collaboration is encouraged in many different forms – in the classroom, on the sports field, during outdoor education programs and, of course, in House events. Our Carey sports coaches strive to facilitate collaboration opportunities at training and in games, always encouraging their charges to work as a team. There are so many examples of our students collaborating successfully, but I would argue Term 2 presents the greatest example of collaboration on our calendar – House Music.

On paper, Middle School House Music sounds like a fanciful idea. Throw 80 students together, ranging in ages from 12 to 15 years old, from three different year levels. These students all have different interests, hobbies, capabilities and passions. Some of them may have a dance background, some may be able to hold a note, but most have never been involved in a choreographed event before or sang in a choir in front of a live audience. Once this melting pot of students is established, you then challenge them to pick a random song, learn to sing it, organise a choreographed dance for 70-plus students, while also having a band with an eclectic range of musicians accompanying the dancers and singers. Give them approximately four weeks of stilted practice time. What could go wrong? Or, more importantly, what could go right?

Well, what ensues is one of the great examples of collaboration you will witness. By some strange turn of fate, when performance day arrives, Houses are ready to perform. All House members arrive dressed appropriately for their theme, ready for their designated two practice sessions in the MGH. During this time, Houses are acutely aware that time is of the essence. Student’s lead these last practice sessions with precision, with interested House staff looking on. House members are dedicated to ‘getting it right’, and there are few anomalies, with everyone pulling in the same direction.

The event itself is one of the great highlights of the year. It’s like going to a concert, with a ringing in your ear a by-product of the rowdy atmosphere for the next two days. Students scream and yell and encourage each other. As each House performs there is an enormous sense of camaraderie amongst House members. House staff are genuinely proud of their charges, seeking them out after their performances to high five and congratulate them. Year 9s are proud of their collective efforts too, while Year 7s and 8s are relieved, but also fulfilled. When the results are read out, there is euphoria for many and commiserations for others.

Despite the result and the leader board, the upside to this event is that on the Monday after House Music, you witness a House united, and, in some cases, a House renewed. The House atmosphere is transformed, Year 7s are conversing openly with Year 8s and 9s, and most of the House knows each other’s names. The House Music competition has evolved each year; however, its positive impact on our students and our House system remains the same.

Charles Darwin is attributed with this observation: ‘In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.’

The House that ultimately wins House Music is usually the one that has the most fun and has collaborated in the most efficient and harmonious way. It isn’t necessarily the House that has the most proficient singers and dancers, and this is a life lesson for all our participants.

Harry Dendle
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Wellbeing

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