Mu­sic helps HB teens to thrive Fund­ing to ex­pand the pro­gramme

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

Since it started just over five years ago, more than 160 teenagers have ben­e­fited from the Project Prima Volta (PPV) mu­sic pro­gramme, with plans to ex­pand it to in­clude younger pri­mary school stu­dents as well.

In the lat­est round of Hast­ings District Coun­cil’s an­nual con­testable fund­ing al­lo­ca­tions the project re­ceived $18,500, in line with the coun­cil’s aim of “build­ing a safe, live­able, sus­tain­able com­mu­nity”.

PPV founder Anna Pier­ard says the fund­ing will be put to­wards an in-depth fea­si­bil­ity study to support scal­ing the ex­ist­ing pro­gramme for younger age groups, pro­duc­ing bet­ter out­comes for more kids.

Ev­ery year 30 teenagers aged be­tween 15 and 18 and from di­verse back­grounds, are ac­cepted for the year-long pro­gramme that uses opera and per­for­mance as a plat­form to build con­fi­dence, and find pur­pose and mean­ing as they nav­i­gate the path to be­com­ing adults.

Train­ing for up to eight hours a week, at­ten­dees work along­side in­ter­na­tional and home-grown in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als, as well as lo­cal per­form­ers and vol­un­teers, cul­mi­nat­ing in fill­ing support roles in a ma­jor opera pro­duc­tion dur­ing Tre­main’s Art Deco Fes­ti­val.

Ms Pier­ard says there have been nu­mer­ous suc­cess sto­ries of teenagers in the pro­gramme over­com­ing chal­lenges to turn their lives around.

“We’re worried about kids — the sta­tis­tics are aw­ful in New Zealand.

“We want to ac­tively support par­ents and schools to help off­set the pres­sures of to­day’s world by de­vel­op­ing our mu­sic pro­gramme to de­liver a com­pre­hen­sive singing-based mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion across school­ing.”

Re­search has shown that peo­ple with anx­i­ety ex­pe­ri­ence it less when they are fully ab­sorbed in an ac­tiv­ity, she says.

“This has been fun­da­men­tal to our suc­cess — we give th­ese kids who are strug­gling some­thing that meets their ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but is also chal­leng­ing, fun and trans­for­ma­tive.

“It’s ab­sorb­ing, so that trains the fo­cus, which deep­ens their en­joy­ment and builds their skills — we want more young peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence this and mu­sic mak­ing is the ideal tool.”

The study is key to iden­ti­fy­ing where ef­forts should be tar­geted to de­liver the pos­i­tive out­comes be­ing sought, Ms Pier­ard says.

“We need to de­ter­mine ex­actly what it is we’re do­ing that’s work­ing so we can tar­get in­vest­ment, and bring about pos­i­tive and per­ma­nent trans­for­ma­tions for even more kids.”

The coun­cil’s so­cial and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee as­sesses the grant ap­pli­ca­tions each year and chair­man Mal­colm Dixon says this is an­other wor­thy cause.

“This in­no­va­tive pro­gramme has al­ready made a big dif­fer­ence to the lives of many teenagers and the com­mit­tee fully sup­ported it be­ing ex­tended to younger peo­ple who would also ben­e­fit from it.”

In the last two years, Project Prima Volta stu­dents have also got in­volved with the an­nual Har­courts Hawke’s Bay Arts Fes­ti­val and this year have pro­duced a show called Scena , to be per­formed at the Iona Col­lege Blyth Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre on Oc­to­ber 16 and 17.

Scena, mean­ing “a scene in an opera”, will con­tain se­lected scenes from favourite clas­sic op­eras led by Jose Apari­cio, with guest di­rec­tors Glen Pick­er­ing and PPV grad­u­ate Kather­ine Wini­tana.

Tick­ets from www.hbaf.co.nz

Through mu­sic and per­for­mance Project Prima Volta stu­dents are sup­ported to find a pos­i­tive path through the teenage years and be­yond.

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