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Local children explore creativity online during COVID-19 shutdown

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Local children explore creativity online during COVID-19 shutdown

Local artist, Corinne Gibbons (top middle of screen) and the 'stars' of her virtual musical, Search for the Sparkle.

Local artist, Corinne Gibbons (top middle of screen) and the ‘stars’ of her virtual musical, Search for the Sparkle

14 July 2020

During the COVID-19 isolation period, nine children across three countries (Australia, USA and Singapore) embarked on a unique and creative journey that culminated in a virtual musical called Search for the Sparkle.

The project was the result of a four-year dream for local artist, Corinne Gibbons and the beginning of what she hopes will become part of curriculum in Australian schools to support social-emotional learning (SEL).

Corinne and her team of professional arts and education collaborators are creating a platform to support the voices of children, in Australia and around the world.

The children, aged 7 to 11 years, in the online pilot of this unique project are Xavier from Eden, Niley from Jellat Jellat, Remy from Wonboyn, Hunter from Cooma, triplets Sophie, Jade and Olivia from Goulburn, Kaiyo from Los Angeles and Sonya from Singapore.

During this six-week journey, Corinne and the children met online twice a week. These conversations connected the children who had not met each other before, and allowed them to develop meaningful friendships with children in another country.

The children collaboratively engaged in the creative process through developing the musical script, songs and new music, along with songs already written by Corinne. Corinne also worked one-on-one with the children.

Each of the children had a role, or multiple roles, in the musical - as scriptwriters, producer, technical support, songwriter, music composer, actors and singers. They were supported by Corinne as main facilitator and mentor, and by other professional adult artists, who each supported the children in different aspects of putting together the musical.

Those artists included Nick Hardcastle, an LA-based Australian actor/director and television host, Ricky Bloomfield, a musician/songwriter, Julie Greene, a TV producer known for her work with Hi-5 and Kara Grainger, an Australian artist based in Nashville.

On the day of the show, the children prepared for their performance in a virtual backstage setting, practicing their lines and warming up their voices. Their online audience comprised family and friends from Australia, Singapore, Europe, the US and Canada.

“It has been an amazing adventure for the children,” Corinne said. “We began this project in a crazy time and created magic.

“The children took everything in their stride; the isolation, the online meetings, sharing their opinions, feelings and ideas about the script, the characters, scenes, lyrics inspired by their personal experiences, music style and movement. It was also a chance for them to share how they were feeling about the global lockdown and how each country was handling the virus situation.

“It has been a fun and creative experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. They are keen to keep in touch with each other and who knows, they may meet one day.”

“I love every single thing about the play; my favourite would be the message they find at the end ‘the sparkle is within your heart’,” says Sophie.

“And I learned copious amounts about performing and singing. Thank you for this significant experience,” says Jade.

“The wellbeing and mental health aspects of this musical project are ground-breaking and of utmost importance in the current educational climate,” said Suzanne Stacey, mother of Hunter and a drama teacher at St Patrick Parish School in Cooma.

“A project such as Search for the Sparkle would provide a very welcome avenue for students to explore their thoughts, feelings and ideas through connected creativity and song. The concept of ‘finding your voice’ that is the premise of the Sparkle project would certainly support the wellbeing of our children moving forward.”

Suzanne has observed a marked development in Hunter’s confidence as well as heightened sense of wellbeing and connectedness to his peers and others through the program.

The vision behind Search for the Sparkle is to connect children to their voices and create a global movement that raises the vibration for future leaders; uniting different cultures of children through music.

It aims to provide the opportunity for children to participate in the search for the power that lies within – their sparkle.

“If we only paint a life of practicality, we will have no artists, inventors, innovators,” says Corinne. “We need to paint a life of aspiration and a safe space to share and explore creatively through music, drama, written word, visual arts and dance.

“Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Eunice Lau is documenting this journey to share with the world a slice of what it is like to be a child in this time, the challenges they face, their aspirations and hopes for the future.”

Corinne Gibbons is an Australian singer, songwriter, children’s book author, music producer, creative director, environmentalist and activist for children’s voices. She holds a deep belief that young people can be empowered through creative expression and singing.

Search for the Sparkle is the culmination of Corinne’s 20 years’ dedication and experience as an advocate for children’s voices.

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