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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Bernard Korbman describes the role of music as a means of inter-cultrual communication in schools

Bernard Korbman and Mara Moustafine.



Date Added:

15 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

5.6 MB






Then I taught at Richmond High School and Richmond High School was an amazing place. It was 92% non-English speaking. So 8% Australian kids there. It was mainly when I first went there, it was mainly made up of Greeks and Turks and after that with the boat people coming, we had a Vietnamese and Timorese kids.


If I was teaching history, I always had the idea that history’s not just in text books, so I would get Vietnamese parents and Cambodian parents to come into the school and talk about their experiences either in the Killing Fields of Cambodia, on the boats, you know, we organised and I didn’t think it would work but one day we organised for Leo Rossner, the piano-accordion player to come to Richmond High and talk to kids in Year 10 and 11 mainly Vietnamese and Greeks, about his experiences. And while he was speaking, he was playing his piano-accordion, just gently, and all of a sudden there’d be about seven or eight kids came up to me and said, “Korbman, Korbman, open the music room we want to get our instruments.”


And people came out with guitars, bouzoukis, drums, all sorts of things. And whereas at first I was really frightened, thinking, “What will these guys have in common with this old Jew?” All of a sudden, they’re jamming. They’re – there’s this amazing jam session with all these nationalities and then the Timorese and the Vietnamese are saying things to me like, “When we were in Indonesian camps or in other camps, that’s how we passed the time away, that’s how we kept our identity, that’s how we managed to stay together, through music.”


And Leo and these children were just connecting on a level that was way, way above anything intellectual. And it was absolutely wonderful.


End transcript