They're the kind of jam sessions that could open up new worlds of opportunity for school students. As part of a pilot program set to continue next year, future music teachers studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music visited schools in less-advantaged areas, improvising with students during weekly music workshops and encouraging them to consider different pathways to further study.
The schools - Bexley Public, Marrickville West Primary and Kogarah High - participate in the Compass program, established at the University of Sydney to encourage school students into higher education.
In 2009, the federal government set the goal of attracting students from low socio-economic backgrounds to university, with current figures just shy of the target of 20 per cent of enrolments.
The Con is a faculty of the University of Sydney, which funded the music program through its Widening Participation Grants.
''Universities are opening up to a variety of people that would not traditionally choose tertiary study,'' says Dr Jennifer Rowley, a senior lecturer in music education at the Con. ''We all know that the more creative opportunities we offer our students, the more opportunity [there is] for increased learning. Unless we get into primary schools and start providing those opportunities … [we won't] give the students a chance to find out where their talents and interests lie.''
The chair of the music education unit at the Con, Dr James Renwick, hopes the workshops allow pupils to see that music can open doors. ''There are some gorgeous bright sparks in these schools, and if it's just one little experience that shows them some other options, it's worth it.''
The principal of Bexley Public, John Daniels, says the program lifts the students' aspirations in terms of striving for education. ''We don't send many kids on to university from our school. [Having students visit from] the Conservatorium, even though it's a pretty elite institution, gives our students another aspect to their aspirations, beyond the academic side at university.''
The school workshops, which culminated in a concert at the Con featuring 43 children, will become part of the music education degree, promoting social equity and giving the student teachers practical experience.
Annabelle Osborne was among the 20 first-year Con students who jammed with the school children. ''To see people who are planning on making a career out of music has been really inspiring for the group,'' she says.
Fellow student Lyndon Abbott says the idea was to let the children ''experiment with different instruments and discover a musical world''.