Chisnallwood Intermediate School Performing Arts Centre

Written by ChissyMusic

Chisnallwood Intermediate School Performing Arts Centre

The Performing Arts Centre at night

Welcome to Chisnallwood School‘s Performing Arts Centre, a custom designed building for supporting
the performing arts in the school and in the community.
On this page you will find information about:


The Chisnallwood Performing Arts Centre was built in 2005 to support the school’s performing arts program.
It includes rooms for itinerant teachers, a computer music suite, recording studio, and performing and rehearsal spaces.

Jazz group The main room is multipurpose: it holds the 70-piece orchestra rehearsal, but is also
used for smaller performances such as the jazz group (pictured), rock groups, and a chamber group.
It is also equipped with a PA system, CD, DVD and video player, and data projector.
It has a Marshall and Rose piano for classical performance, and a Roland FP-5 electric piano that is used for
contemporary music.
Keyboard room There are three teaching rooms for the itinerant program. Each room has an internet connected computer for
teachers to use as well as mirrors, whiteboards, and audio equipment.
The keyboard teaching room has two electric pianos, including a weighted 88-note Technics piano.
Drums The drum teaching room is equipped with an acoustic and an electric drum kit.
Students can use the electric kit with headphones, making group lessons easier.
The teaching rooms are sufficiently soundproofed that lessons in adjacent rooms don’t interfere with each other.
Waiting area The waiting area for the teaching rooms.
kitchen The suite has a small kitchen for cleaning instruments as well as tea and coffee
making facilities.
Computer music room The computer music room. Each computer is equipped with recording and composing software, including Sibelius 4.
Recording studio Students can use a custom designed recording studio, with a 16-channel mixer and 4-channel digital recording.
There are windows to two adjacent rooms, making it suitable for recording large groups such as the orchestra.
There are patch connections to every performance and teaching room in the building.
Chamber group room The second largest room is large enough for dance lessons, and has a mirrored wall.
It is also equipped with surround sound, a CD, DVD and video player, and a data projector.
Foyer The foyer area has enough room for small functions, such as tea and coffee during breaks.
Entrance The building has easy access. It is possible to drive right up to the main doors for loading and unloading.
There is plenty of parking available as the building is beside the main school parking lot, and a paved playground on the other side of the
building can also be used for parking.
The centre is self contained, with toilets and kitchen facilities, making it suitable for conferences, workshop, and concerts.
The centre is adjacent to the school hall, which is being upgraded in late 2006.
This will make the centre ideal for warmup/preparations for larger performances in the main hall.

Music programmes at Chisnallwood

From the road

The music programme is adapted each year to adjust the interests and strengths of students.
The following are currently available:

  • There are about 300 students learning instruments from about fourteen specialist itinerant teachers who visit the school weekly.
    Instruments available include violin, flute, keyboard/piano, drums, guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, vocals and cello.
    There are a number of instruments available for hire to students.

  • School orchestra. All students are welcome to join the orchestra as soon as they have basic skills on their instrument.
    Most music is especially arranged for the players.

  • Jazz band. This group provides an excellent opportunity for students to combine classical music skills (such as reading and technique) with more contemporary sounds (such as drum kit and bass guitar).
    It exposes them to a variety of jazz styles, such as blues, Latin, swing, and ballads.
    It also gives them experience in combo and big band settings, and gives them some contact with the jazz standard repertoire.
    It is particularly good for developing their rhythmic feel, and jazz students are able to learn skills like
    improvising, trading, jazz scales and chords, and phrasing.

  • Chamber group. Each year a small group of players are selected to play in a chamber group. In this environment students are solely responsible for their part. There is no conductor so they must learn to listen and work together.
  • Rua Te Kakano and Pasifika. Chisnallwood School has strong Maori and Pacific cultural groups as well as Pasific A Cappella.
  • Theory club. This popular after-school club learns music theory through interactive games as well as working through conventional theory books
    with the opportunity to sit exams.

  • School production. In alternating years the school puts on a major production which involves many music students either in the orchestra or singing
    on stage.

  • Percussion ensemble. This group is available to any student interested in playing percussion instruments, including drum kit,
    marimba, and even “found” instruments such as 44-gallon drums.

  • Recorder ensemble. This is for recorder players. The school has bass, tenor and alto recorders available.
  • String ensemble. For Violin, viola, cello and double bass students.
  • Choirs. Performance choir, “blue Notes”, Christchurch School’s Music Festival choir and Suzanne Prentice choir.
  • Rock Bands. Groove,
    ensemble skills,
    rhythm section,
    vocal technique,
    stage presence,
    song writing,
    setting up a PA.

  • Technical skills. Interested students are trained in sound production, recording and other technical aspects supporting music performance.
  • Computer music. A well-equipped computer music lab is available where students can learn to make their own recordings
    using a multi-track recording software. The widely used professional notation software “Sibelius” is available on all the computers.
    Once students have prepared songs they can use the recording studio to record and edit them, and produce their own CDs.
    At the end of each year the school produces a CD with highlights from the year’s music programme.

2002 CD Cover
2003 CD Cover
2004 CD Cover
2005 CD Cover

The design process


The centre was designed through extensive consultation:

  • Many schools with music suites were visited, and the teachers who use the facilities were interviewed to find out what aspects work well and which don’t.
    One problem with some designs was that hard surfaces or thin walls made them unsuitable acoustically.

  • Input was sought from itinerant teachers, since they would be working in the building, and most of them would visit several
    schools each week. For example, they highlighted the importance of having facilities close to the teaching rooms such as a photocopier and
    tea/coffee facilities, as itinerants often only visit the school for an hour or two, and may not have much spare time on either side of their teaching.


Judith Bell
The Performing Arts Centre is at Chisnallwood Intermediate School in
New Zealand.

The facility is available for community use. If you are interested in finding out more about any aspect of the centre
or the school’s music programme, please
contact Judith Bell:

Spam-proof contact

Updated: June 2006