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Year: 2023

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 27 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Kaye Harrison

Produced By: Kaye Harrison

Language: English

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MUSIC CENTRAL explores the power of music to create connection and healing. Filmed for over a year on the Central Coast of New South Wales, this documentary follows the stories of local Elder Uncle Kevin 'Gavi' Duncan, the staff and students at Woy Woy Public School, young singer-songwriter Ruby Archer and the Artistic Director of the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music, Patrick Brennan.

A character-driven half hour film, MUSIC CENTRAL gently interweaves four narratives to explore connection through music. Filming the introduction of a music program at Woy Woy Public School, it provides a first-hand insight into some of the mental health challenges faced by pre-teens.

Year 6 student, Jillian Lewry openly shares the common concerns of young people and the social pressures that they feel which is reflected in the cohort's reluctance to sing.

Relieving Principal, Dan Betts, is enthusiastic about the introduction of a music program with a specialised music teacher at his diverse and inclusive school. Provided by the Australian Children's Music Program, Dan is hopeful it will assist the year 5 and 6 students whose well-being suffered the most from COVID 19 lockdowns. Increased levels of anxiety and emotion dysregulation are apparent across the board.

Senior teacher Louise Rayner has the skills to integrate simple music techniques into her classroom which helps engage her students so they might learn. She is excited about the fortnightly specialised class for all students in the school, particularly the most disadvantaged, as they will have the most to gain academically and in terms of their well-being.

Ruby Archer is a 17 year old singer-songwriter from the Central Coast and daughter of Director Kaye Harrison. Ruby gives a first-person insight into her experience of a complex mental condition that revealed itself with the onset of puberty (in year 6). Music provided an avenue for Ruby to express her emotions intuitively, to have those emotions validated by others and provided a third person account of what was going on for her, once she could reflect. She articulates the sense of shame that envelopes many young people and how music, and the confidence she gained from that helped challenge that shame, giving her a stronger and more positive sense of self. A previous student at Woy Woy Public School, Ruby runs a workshop with a year 6 class, bringing an empathy to their reluctance to be vulnerable, suggesting they just hum if they can't sing.

Patrick Brennan is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music. A man with boundless energy and commitment to music education, Patrick inspires so many young people to be the best they can be. He has very high expectations of his students which encourages them to go out of their comfort zone, make mistakes, build resilience and develop a protective self-confidence. Patrick is very comfortable with moving his body as a conductor, making himself vulnerable so it allows the young students to also make themselves vulnerable, to respond emotionally to the music they are creating and feel safe to be themselves. Absolutely pivotal to the strong community of students, parents, teachers and musicians that he works with on the coast, Patrick draws on this same community for support after he suffers a traumatic incident that threatens to destroy his career.

Uncle Kevin Gavi Duncan from the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council graciously shares his wisdom about the importance of music to First Nations communities and how it connects human beings to the plants and animals that sustain them. Music provides a constant physical and spiritual connection to mother earth and is key to First Nations people maintaining their role as custodians. This sustained First Nations people and our natural environment for thousands of years and is food for thought as we face the enormous challenges with the health of our natural environment, climate change, not to mention the global mental health epidemic.

The four interwoven vignettes that are MUSIC CENTRAL reflect a broad range of life experiences and perspectives as they encompass a diversity in age, gender and cultural backgrounds. The consistent theme however is the power of music to connect and improve wellbeing and social cohesion.

At a time when humanity is increasingly disconnected from self, from each other and from the land on which we live, MUSIC CENTRAL is a timely roadmap for healing.


Director, Producer, Photographer and Editor: Kaye Harrison
Drone and additional camera: Ryan Andrew Lee
Music Composer: Darcy Archer
Conform & Grade: Roen Davis, Central Business Digital
Mix: James Andrews
Additional sound: Daniel Miau
Social Impact Producer: Fern Mei Sim
Edit Consultant: Toni Houston

Music Central was produced by Treehouse Media, supported by Creative Art Central, Central Coast Council, New South Wales.

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