STUDENTS at Manning Gardens Public School are finding their own rhythm, thanks to the Australian Children's Music Foundation (ACMF) and local musician Matt Zarb.
The Australian Children's Music Foundation is a charity, founded by Don Spencer, which provides free music education and instruments to disadvantaged children and youth at risk.
Last year, when Don Spencer visited schools in this district, he met local musician Matt Zarb and asked him to come and work for him.
"Don Spencer has always been a hero of mine and in my opinion he's one of this country's great leaders. I was thrilled to meet him, let alone work for him," Matt said.
Matt is passionate about the role of music in young people's lives.
"It's sad that most schools can't afford specialist music teachers and this is where Don's vision comes in. Don started working with young people in detention, with amazing results. He realised the difference music could make in a person's life, particularly if they're at risk," Matt said.
Matt started working with Manning Gardens students at the start of this year and said he has been inspired by the great work local musician Michael Eyb has been doing in local schools as an ACMF teacher.
"Michael is a very inspiring teacher and I have learnt a lot from him. These workshops are more about engaging kids with music, rather than making them into musicians. They're a chance for kids to share in the joy of music making for fun, to hear new things and build confidence," Matt said.
"Sometimes kids need to loose their heads and dream a little. I teach them about rhythm, how to concentrate, and how to enjoy silence too," Matt said.
The Greater Building Society is a sponsor of the ACMF and Taree manager Jason Potter attended Matt's morning classes last Wednesday.
"The more support this program gets, the better off our nation's children will be," Jason said.
Jason has taken a personal interest in the program and besides financial sponsorship, he intends to send different staff members out to participate in the sessions, one morning a month.
As the first class for the day enters the room, it's clear they experience regular fun with Matt and they are keen to get started.
"What song shall we start with today?" Matt asks the class. "The Manning Gardens song," comes the answer.
Matt then gets out the drums (all instruments are provided by the ACMF) and the students begin beating to the rhythm Matt has written on the board. All eyes and ears are on Matt as he writes new beats and gets them to follow.
"There are some amazingly talented kids at this school. My hope is that the government will take notice of the enormous benefits of enriching kids lives with music and make these kinds of music programs a compulsory part of the curriculum," Matt said.
Judging by the children's joy, they agree.