Ninety participants were involved in the Cuskelly College of Music Winter School Music Program in Tenterfield this month and the only way to describe it was joyful.
Participants sang and played, danced and played and learned and played - in fact, they did more playing than anything else!
One of the key tenets of the approach here is that students learn best when they are enjoying what they are doing.
This attitude permeates all aspects of the program from the way that lessons and activities are structured down to the sense of freedom that students enjoy when they master a new skill.
However, Program Director, Dr James Cuskelly was quick to point out that the notion of play does not mean a lack of discipline - in fact, quite the opposite.
"When students themselves make up games, there are strict rules and everyone is aware of what is fair and what is not fair," he said.
"Everyone is expected to adhere to the rules and the real fun is not in winning but in the playing of the game itself.
"This is exactly the same in the music program - students are aware of the rules and the fact that those rules are there to make the learning fair for everyone.
"Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of the week for the teachers was the way in which the students responded to the wide range of activities, but that they did so with a real sense of purpose, enjoyment and progress in terms of their skill and understanding," he said.
Lucinda Geoghegan - Head of Creative Learning for the National Youth Choir of Scotland - observed that the children were "great country kids".
She found the students here were very similar to students at home in Scotland and was delighted by the way the students responded.
"Students love playing games but they also love learning. The trick is to find what interests the students, to make the learning fun and to make sure that the student is aware of their learning."
Dr Cuskelly points out that the "music must do the work" and that it is the experience of the music itself (rather than just listening to music) which most profoundly engages students.
The effort and progress of participants was made crystal clear in the final concert, held in the MPU at Tenterfield High School, on Friday July 8.
Beginning with a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement from local elder Roxanne Bancroft and two of her granddaughters who were on course, the audience were treated to music theatre and choral performances, string and band works, improvised instrumental jazz pieces and the very impressive Bach Double Concerto for Strings.
While it is difficult to name any one presentation above the others, perhaps the most moving experience of the concert was the massed choir performance featuring arrangements of two well known contemporary songs, Beds Are Burning and You're The Voice.
The united voices of this large group clearly delivered the message that "we're not gonna sit in silence, we're not gonna live in fear".
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