For most children, school holidays tend to pass in a blur for classroom escapees, but for students at Bingara Central School this break might be the only one they wish would hurry up and end.
The students ended Term 3 working with travelling singer-songwriter Josh Arnold, to create a school song and accompanying video, with the end result of their creative efforts to premier early in Term 4.
A former Golden Guitar winner who for many years was a regular face during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Mr Arnold left the world of showbiz when he realised how much he missed his family while touring and that he was not enjoying playing live music.
He chose to walk away from the glitz and eventually found his way into the classroom, spending the past 13 years travelling the length and breadth of Queensland, visiting large and small schools to collaborate on writing, performing and filming songs with the students and local communities.
In many communities, these mini masterpieces of local creativity have essentially become school anthems, and Mr Arnold's services are in high demand in the Sunshine State.
He's now experiencing a growing level of interest from across NSW, as his fame spreads among schools, one Facebook and YouTube post at a time.
Bingara Central School principal, Brooke Wall, said a school staff member drew attention to Mr Arnold's work after seeing his details pop up in a Facebook feed.
"She saw one of Josh's performances where he and school children write a school song together and thought that sounded amazing, and how good would that be for our kids to be involved in something like that," Mrs Wall said.
The school contacted Mr Arnold and settled on dates, which brought him to Bingara during the second last week of Term 3.
Bingara Central School has about 180 students, from Kindergarten to Year 12, and Mrs Wall said most of the school was involved in the project in different ways.
"We had a core group of children, ranging from Year 4 to Year 10, who worked very closely with Josh, including solo performers," she said.
"There were also a lot of other children involved with the filming ... so most of the school was involved in one way or another, both staff and children."
Mr Arnold arrived in Bingara on the afternoon of Sunday, September 17 for about three days of collaboration, and started filming straight away with footage of some horses along the banks of the Gwydir River.
During the next few days, filming continued with Mr Arnold asking students about life in Bingara.
"The children were able to talk about what it's like living in Bingara, what they love about our school," she said.
"The group also came up with a word grab based on these responses and by the end of the day had come up with verses and chorus for the song," she said.
Working with the core group and soloists, Mr Arnold had the children sing verses of the song and undertook more filming at a some local properties and back along the Gwydir.
Mr Arnold said a lot of the footage featured children on properties, with motorbikes and on horses.
"There was also general footage from around the school and different things so that other children were also able to take part," he said.
"Most of the children were pretty keen to be involved in the project, but it's hard to write a song with too many more than 30 or so, so we had to focus within the core group of students on those who were had an interest in music.
"This resulted in a broad range of children to work with, with a good mix of boys and girls."
The Queensland schools working with Mr Arnold have used the songs and videos created to promote their school values, pride and spirit, which he said in turn helped instil a greater sense of spirit and pride within the school and it's students.
"This is also a way to showcase what a great place the school and its town are," Mr Arnold said.
Mrs Wall and Mr Arnold said the Bingara project had also been a major exercise in confidence building for the school's students.
"It was really lovely to watch their confidence grow as I worked with them ... they started out quite nervous but then you could see how much their confidence grew even in just a few days - it was amazing," Mr Arnold said.
"For a lot of them it was an experience they'll likely never have again, and because of that it's something that gives them a feeling of confidence."
Mr Arnold said the children were already proud of who they are and where they come from.
"This project, however, has helped reinforce that pride and sense of community," he said.
"This was a big thing which brought everyone together - these were children that might not normally work together but it brought them together on something they have done for their school and community," he said.
The end result of the few days work at Bingara Central was lots of audio of the children's voices and footage for the video. The next step is to put all the components together in Mr Arnold's studio, where he works with a team of musicians.
"The final version of the song will be influenced a little by the interpretation of my studio team - I give them free rein as I've worked with them for the past two decades and I trust their musical judgement," he said.
At this stage, he described the song, BCS grit, as having "a little bit of a country rock feel" to it.
Mrs Wall said the song's title was a reference to Bingara Central's motto, beliefs, and values ... to the student's "determination and resilience".
Bingara may not be the largest school Mr Arnold has worked in, however, he said that was in no way a reference to the amount of talent demonstrated by the students.
"There were some potential stars among the children I've worked with at Bingara, and a few soloists you will see in the video that were great talent," he said.
From Bingara, Mr Arnold headed to Bendemeer Public School for a short visit to help create a school song, and was fielding further enquiries from other areas in NSW.
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