My original reason for travelling to Aus was the availability of Bambusa Textilis at a Steiner School in Central Coast.
I also visited another Steiner School in Newcastle
This school was very refreshing to visit. I felt immediately at home. At this school, pupils were put in first place, seocnd place and third as well. The buildings might have been old and built entirely out of wood. This gave them a great charm. You could imagine that this school had been built when the world began. Wood has a kind of charm, especially Australian hardwood well aged. So naturally I felt at home for this reason too.
The school hall had a number of artworks adorning it. These had a charm and character that led you to believe that somebody loved the place. That was a third reason to feel at home.
A fourth reason was that the workshop had a really great bandsaw that allowed me to easily cut the more than sixty culms I had brought with me. By the time Wednesday morning arrived I was ready. The woodwork teacher was immensely helpful and set me up so I had all the tools I needed. The first class was twent six lively class four and five students. They all listened attentively right from the start and were a really great class to tutor. Two other teachers were there and were very helpful in keeping everyone in the loop. The task was a little bit beyond the capacity of the children to do unaided, but by the end of session two, every student had a pipe that played.
After a fiddle concert for the three youngest classrooms, classe eight and nine started the first of their two sessions. The heat was enormous. Smoke was billowing into the sky. We couldn't see flames but choppers were flying overhead. Teachers were wondering if they needed to check the evacuation drill.
I was able to review the day before heading back to my digs just five doors down the way. I decided that all the bamboo for the next day woould be cut to the same length. This proved a great boon for the sixes and sevens the next morning. By the end of the first session they had all finished their pipes and so for the second session we could learn a few tunes.
The pipes are not in tune even of they are exactly the same length. Other factors some into play in tuning. Pipe diameter for one. . . The minute differences in fipple for another. . . Another concert and the last session for eight and nine. One student was so thrilled with his rather loud pipe he went around the entire group showing off. Tough on the ears, but his enthusiasm was contagious. By home time everyone had pipes that played, but I could see there were things I wanted to do better on future courses.
Tuning for one. This takes time. It takes a lot of time to teach and really can be taught one on one, or in very small groups. By tuning I mean getting the basic pitch of the pipe to a note of the scale. Shortening the pipe one cut at a time until it is absolutely true. For this you really need to use the bandsaw. So only older students. [10 +] Once the holes are drilled, the pipe should be pretty close to playable if the hole marking plan is followed. However, the next step, to get really just tuning can take from two to twenty minutes each pipe. Hmmmmmmm! Next time I will get this time built into the course in some way.
Working with eight and nine...........