Music and the Arts



At HRSS students as a class receive a weekly 40 minute music lesson with one of our two music teachers, Mr Howland and Mrs Barker. The teachers practice the Kodaly method and the Orff approach as the core of the music program.

In the junior school students build a solid foundation of music exploring musical concepts such as beat, pitch and rhythm. They start to read and write simple stick notation, starting with crotchets (ta) and quavers (ti-ti). Students learn to sing using Solfa and hand signs starting with sol and mi.

In the senior school students are taught a rounded music program that complements the band and string programs whilst incorporating practical modern lessons to bring an appreciation and enjoyment to music. Instruments learnt in the classroom include the ukulele, guitar, mallets and percussion.


The instrumental programs teach students to read and interpret notation. They are taught to play by ear; perform individually, as well as in large and small groups. The children learn to listen to their own music and to the music of others around them. The program provides many opportunities for students to perfect and perform their chosen instrument.

The program is split into two sections covering different families of instruments and different age groups.


Students in Year 3 and above are given the opportunity to sign up for the strings program, which is run by Donna Futo. Donna teaches instruments in the ‘string family’ which include the violin, viola, cello and double bass. These instruments come in a range of sizes, which allow students to start in Year 3 and learn right through to Year 6. Lessons occur weekly and run in groups for 30 minutes.


Students in Year 4 and above who qualify receive lessons once a week from our band teacher, Alana Russell. Alana teachers orchestral band instruments such as woodwind (flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone), Brass (trumpet, euphonium and trombone) and percussion. Instruments in the band program are physically big and are therefore reserved for students in Years 4 -6. Lessons occur weekly and run in groups for 30 minutes.


Guitar Academy is a structured program that teaches practical guitar techniques, technical songs and popular chorded songs.

Guitar Academy is centred on the ‘rock school exam’ books and delivers beginner, intermediate and advanced modules over a three-year period.

Much like merit badges, students receive unique band badges for completing certain skills making their achievements something they can wear proudly on their uniform.  Taught by Mr Howland and Mr Travers students attend lessons weekly, which run for 30 minutes in small groups.


At Highland Reserve State School, the Kodali method is our chosen approach to music. Choir is an extension of the skillset acquired during lessons in class time.

In the choir programme, students learn correct breathing technique for singing and how to properly warm-up their vocal chords.  Throughout the year students will add a variety of songs to their repertoire and have opportunities to represent Highland Reserve State School at competitions and performances.

Taught by Mrs Morgan and Mrs Barker, students attend a weekly rehearsal which runs during lunchtime.​


Drumline refers to the ‘percussion’ section of the band. At HRSS it will be expected that the Drumline introduce each major event at the school plus special occasions. Don Want is working with talented students to advance their musicianship and develop their skills in complex and fun synchronised performances that test students’ coordination, practice and commitment. Don is an active member of the drumming community being an Interstate Drumming Judge. He was previously the Musical Director of the Coffs Harbour Drumline: see:

These lessons run separate from the percussion group taught by Adam Thomson, although percussion students are encouraged to participate in both. The school drumline is an excellence program that is in the early stages of becoming an established team at HRSS. Lessons run before school or at lunchtime. 


Not to be confused with Instrumental Band, the Rock Band program teaches students how to effectively perform in a small 3 to 4 piece rock band. Songs are modern fun and range in genre from indie, rock to pop. In this program student learn the ins and outs of how to rehearse, practice, set up gear and perform as a rock group.  This is an excellence program that selects excelling students from the Instrumental Band program, HRSS Drumline and Guitar Academy.  Students who show exceptional skill, attendance and enthusiasm are picked to form bands. Rehearsals are run before school or at lunchtime. ​ 

Last reviewed 14 November 2019
Last updated 14 November 2019