Josh Arnold has made a career writing songs about regional schools but a recent tune has strummed the heartstrings of Australia.
- Toowoomba singer and songwriter Josh Arnold has been travelling to regional schools for ten years
- His recent song “Biggest Classroom in the World” has gone viral amongst north west Queensland
- Mount Isa School of the Air students say that the song reflects their life on remote cattle stations
The Toowoomba musician has launched a song called Biggest Classroom in the World featuring Mount Isa School of the Air students.
It has since swept Australia, gaining more than 5,000 shares on Facebook.
Thousands more have commented on social media, reminiscing about their time in distance education or living in remote Australia.
Arnold said it was the most adventurous project he’d undertaken.
“These kids are living in the most remote areas you can think of,” he said.
For students like Breanna Easton, it was an experience to remember.
“I was really nervous about singing my part, but I learnt that if you push forward and give things a go, great things can happen,” the grade five student said.
Rehearsals via a computer screen
As the lyrics suggest, Mount Isa School of the Air spans from Julia Creek Plains to the red, rocky range.
Kids in the video are from as far north as Delta Downs and Stirling Lotus Vale, north of Normanton, to Mount Leonard near Windorah, Malakoff Downs south of Hughenden to Gunbalanya in Arnhem Land and everywhere in between.
Creating the song and music video was a mammoth feat.
Arnold first wrote the chorus that students, many on cattle stations, practised at home using a recording.
Then Arnold and grade four to six students wrote the remaining lyrics in a day.
“These kids live and breathe station life,” Arnold said.
“They’re like little adults really. It was actually hilarious.
More than 100 students then met in Mount Isa, most travelling more than 500 kilometres, to film the final clips for the video.
Putting School of the Air on the map
It wasn’t the first song written about School of the Air, but teacher Stephen Reid said it was the first to incorporate local kids.
“The original song was a generic one written for Schools of the Air across Australia and we adopted it as the Mount Isa school song,” Mr Reid said.
The recording gave year six student Trent Folker a rare opportunity to meet schoolmates in person.
“Everyone was made to feel important in putting the music video together and that is just what our school is like – everyone doing their bit to make our school shine,” he said.
“It shows what station life is all about,” said grade four student Riley Mourilyan.
300 music videos and counting
Ten years ago, Arnold created a regional school production project called Small Town Culture and has lost count of how many songs have been created as a result.
“I think it’s heading towards 300 music videos at least,” he said.
A song and music video will usually take a week to complete from start to finish.
“I’ve visited schools in south-west Queensland, like one which had seven students and it’s only taken a couple of days. Others will be an entire school,” Arnold said.
The songwriter said he was compelled to keep going because of the songs’ legacy for kids.
“I always feel like there is an endless well for music,” he said.
“Every school is different, and words and lyrics can shape the way you see it.”
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