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Bringing the beat back to small town schools

IN TUNE: Josh Arnold, Sophie Volp and Sharon Barker at Highfields Secondary College.
IN TUNE: Josh Arnold, Sophie Volp and Sharon Barker at Highfields Secondary College. Cassandra Glover

JOSH Arnold is the face and the voice behind Small Town Culture. Josh travels between the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales visiting small country towns and writing songs with the community.

One of his latest hits, written with the Texas State School, Better in Texas, has already had 25,000 views on Facebook.

Originally from Tara in southwest Queensland, Josh made a name for himself within the music industry after getting signed with ABC music, and winning a Golden Guitar.

He eventually decided on a career change, where he started working as a teachers aid, which quickly turned into writing songs with kids.

"The first school I walked into they asked me if I could bring my guitar,” he said.

"So I started writing songs with kids pretty much straight away in a Year Two class, we wrote a song about kangaroos, at Newtown State School.

"As time progressed we made a whole school CD and other schools wanted to do stuff and so collaborating with kids in classrooms became my job all of a sudden.”

That was where Small Town Culture began.

"From just writing songs in the classroom and recording them, Small Town Culture became a YouTube channel and a Facebook page, where we started creating music videos,” Josh said.

"A lot of it is writing school songs, or town songs sometimes, and we would then make a video clip.

"So the kids could from the local town or school help write the song with me and then they would be the stars of the song and the stars of the video clip.”

Josh said he made the first school song and video clip in his home town at Tara Shire State College.

Sharon Barker was the principal at the time and when Rural Weekly caught up with Josh recently, he was collaborating with her again at Highfields State Secondary College near Toowoomba.

FAMILAR FACE: Josh Arnold of Small Town Culture travels around to most schools in regional Queensland, creating songs and music videos with the students.
FAMILAR FACE: Josh Arnold of Small Town Culture travels around to most schools in regional Queensland, creating songs and music videos with the students. Contributed

"We had our centenary in 2011 and we wrote our school song which was Tara Shines,” Ms Barker said.

"Then he worked with every year level, from the preppies up to the senior students and wrote a different song with each year level, and we produced a CD. "It was really an amazing part of that school. It brought a lot of the families and the kids together.

"I know from that experience how good he is with the kids and very clever in terms of quickly picking up on the culture of a school and building that into a song.”

With Highfields State Secondary College opening in 2015, Ms Barker said she was aiming to develop a culture within the school.

"We've sort of built that culture to a point where it was a really nice time to bring Josh in and have a school song and start to build what we've already developed.

"He's just so relatable for the kids to work with and he can bring out their talent.

"I think for them to have this opportunity, it's a once in a school life-time.

"It's great for them to be able to not only be the stars, there will be a few of them who will have those solos, but for all of them to have been involved and to write it from scratch and to think about what it means to be at Highfields State Secondary College.”

Josh collaborated with the students towrite the school song based on their motto Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow.

Sophie Volp, a Year 10 student at Highfields State Secondary Collegehas been writing songs since she was 10. She wrote the chorus to the school song.

"I wrote the chorus using everyone's ideas,” she said.

"We had a big brainstorm and there were lots of great ideas about building a future for ourselves, and the school logo and how there's different meanings for things, and the community and the way we grow as a school because we're a new school.

"So I used everyone else's ideas and put it together in a chorus.”

Sophie said she enjoyed having Josh Arnold at the school because he worked well with everyone, and got them enjoying the program.

To see some of Josh's great work head to www.facebook. com/SmallTownCulture/.

Topics:  highfields josh arnold music musician schools small towns


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