Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

We have an amazing drama department at school. Each year they put on a couple of different productions in the school theatre, and they do an amazing job of it.  This year the senior school students performed a version of the very whimsical (and somewhat bizarre!) story  of Alice in Wonderland. It was a fabulous opportunity for the kids to perform, made especially fabulous by the school’s very authentic approach to such productions. It’s a joy to watch the students be part of something so professionally produced.

It was a particularly joyful for me to watch, as my own daughter Kate had the leading role of Alice. It was a challenging role, performing in every scene and having lots of dialog (including the opening monologue). She worked really hard at rehearsals and when the final productions finally arrived, I was so very proud of her.

Photo by Len Elliot

Virtual Busking her way to Japan

My daughter Kate loves to sing.  She discovered this ability a few years ago when she came home from school and announced that she wanted to try out for a solo part in a local performing arts concert.  Although we always thought she had a nice voice that could carry a tune, we had totally missed the fact that she was actually quite talented vocally and so her intention to sing solo at this concert was a bit of a surprise.  Long story short, she has discovered her voice and is working hard at developing it further.  She’s done workshops and music camps and is now working with a singing coach.  She really does love to sing.

She was recently selected to be part of the Talent Advancement Program (TAP), a program for kids with musical talent aged 13 to 18.  For the 23 kids selected to be part of TAP, it’s a pretty special group to be take part of.  They get to learn and grow by actually performing in front of people.  Tomorrow, they are all performing at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, next week they do a gig for some senior citizens, and so on.  All great experience.

From the 23 kids involved, 16 of them were chosen to take part in a cultural exchange to Japan later this year.  Our local city, Bankstown, has a sister city arrangement with Suita, a city just outside Osaka.  The kids will be going over in October, performing in local schools in Suita and living with a host family for 5 days. They also get to travel on the Bullet Train, see a bit more of Japan, and even perform at Tokyo Disneyland.  It will be quite the experience for a 13 year old girl!

As parents, you want your kids to have experiences like this.  The things she will see and experience on this trip will be amazing. To be immersed in a different culture for 10 days, especially one like Japan which has such different customs and food, will be awesome and unforgettable.

Of course, it comes at a cost. Despite the fact that the TAP program subsidises part of the airfare, there is still a significant cost involved in going. As excited as Kate was to have been selected, she was also quite apprehensive about accepting because of that cost. Despite that, her mother and I will try to find the money because we think it’s an experience worth having.  To help out, the TAP kids were encouraged to come up with ways of doing some fundraising to help contribute to the costs of the trip.

So Kate came up with an idea. She collected a bunch of videos of her singing and put them together on a website as a sort of “virtual busking” site. The videos were added to YouTube and embedded in the site so that viewers can watch, and a “tipjar” connected to Paypal in case anyone wants to make a donation to her trip. She asked me for a hand with some of the technical stuff, but the rest of it was all her idea.

I’m very proud of her, not just for being part of a group like TAP, but also for her initiative in wanting to find an innovative way to raise some money to cover this cost.  She’s telling family and friends about it, but I said I’d also try to help spread the word about it via Twitter and the blogosphere. I hope you take a moment to check it out, leave an encouraging comment on the discussion tabs, and possibly even drop a small donation in her tip jar.  I know she would appreciate it greatly.

The site is at