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School Songs from Radio’s Past to be Showcased in Wellington

8 May 2013

School Songs from Radio’s Past

Nearly every New Zealand-born person over the age of 50 seems to know the same set of folksongs, sea shanties and evergreens. The reason lies partly in last century’s ‘Music to Schools’ radio broadcasts, the subject of a free presentation at the National Library, Molesworth Street Wellington, on Saturday 18 May 2013 at 2pm.

‘It’s a fascinating glimpse into our cultural history’, says Newtown resident Dr Michael Brown, one of the team of five local people who will explain the history and lead in singing a selection of the songs. ‘Soon after radio was introduced in the 1920s, keen educators saw the potential of using radio in schools. Music educators taught songs and the basics of music over the wireless, first with a piano and single voice in the studio, and later with children’s choirs’.

The presentation lasts about an hour. The group has presented the show several times already and the earlier performances were warmly received by people of all ages.

‘Many older New Zealanders first learnt community songs in their classrooms while listening to the music broadcasts to schools’, says Dr Brown.

‘Singing from the same songsheet’ (Settle down, Standard Three!) is an illustrated talk about the ‘Music to Schools’ broadcasts in New Zealand from 1931 to 1979, written and performed by ‘The Song Snatchers’: Anne Russell, Michael Brown, Jane Shallcrass, Marie Russell and Robin Brew.


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