Arts Choice

There is a rich tradition of excellence in the Arts at Downlands College. Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of ensembles and events, all designed to bring out their natural creativity and to develop confidence. 

Students with an interest in, or passion for visual art, music, dance, acting or singing can choose from many school-based and external opportunities to learn and perform. Downlands College offers a well-developed cultural program led by dedicated and qualified staff. 

Private tutoring is also available for those wanting more personalised instruction. Most performances are held in the Graham Centre at the College. Students are able to practise and perform on one of two grand pianos, and create original harmonies using state-of-the-art composition software.

Major Events and Community Involvement

During the year, the Performing Arts department is involved in:

  • Biennial College Musical
  • Grandparents Day
  • Open Day
  • Toowoomba and Queensland Eisteddfod
  • Queensland Catholic Music Festival
  • Annual Art Exhibition
  • Downlands Community Dinner
  • Paul Morton Memorial Choral Festival
  • Take Note Music Camp
  • Domestic and International Tours
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Various Instrumental & Choral Showcase Concerts
  • State Honours Ensemble Program
  • Queensland Youth Shakespeare Festival
  • Drama Showcase
  • Dance Showcase
  • Arts Awards Night
  • Other performances as scheduled and by invitation

Ensembles and Choirs

The Music department offers the following choral and instrumental ensembles:

  • Gyphon Chorale
  • The Fortesmen
  • Canticum Choir
  • College Choir (the combined ensemble of The Fortesmen and Canticum)
  • Symphonic Band
  • Big Band
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • String Ensemble
  • Guitar Ensemble



The Downlands Performing Arts program has been selected as a Finalist in the Best Co-Curriculum Program category of the 2019 Australian Education Awards. The College is the only Toowoomba school selected as a finalist for the awards. 

The Australian Education Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of the country’s top performing schools, principals, department heads and teachers. The Australian Education Awards go through a six-step process to select the winner including nominations, research and selection of finalists, confirmation of finalists, finalist submission, judging and the awards ceremony.

The Downlands Performing Arts program is a wonderful example of a relationship-focused community of students, parents and staff coming together to nurture and develop the talent and passion of our students across Dance, Drama and Music. Their selection as a finalist acknowledges the fantastic work of their Performing Arts staff who have developed an innovative and contemporary co-curricular program that fosters inclusivity, enjoyment, resilience, persistence and excellence.

The winners of the Australian Education Awards will be announced at the awards ceremony in Sydney on Friday 16 August 2019 at the Dockside Group. The winner will also be published in The Educator magazine and online. Last years awards were attended by a full house of over 500 of Australia’s education elite from across the country. Awards were presented in 24 categories recognising the work of the schools and individuals making their mark in the sector.

Click to read the Highlife story


As the newest discipline within the Downlands Arts department, Dance engages the mind, body and spirit and provides opportunities for the development of physical, expressive, critical, imaginative, appreciative and perceptive abilities. Students develop as creative, complex thinkers, effective communicators, reflective and independent learners and participants in an interdependent world as they study and participate in various dance contexts, genres and styles.

Informal and formal Dance is a part of everyone’s life and each generation has used Dance and particular dance styles as a way of defining themselves and developing a strong sense of cultural identity. Dance is also at the heart of many indigenous cultures and a vital part of their heritage and rituals.

Academic Dance 

All Downlands students study Dance as part of the compulsory Performing Art unit offered in Year 7. For many students, this is the first time that they have encountered formal dance 
training and the learning activities undertaken focus on dance styles relevant and of interest to each cohort. Dance is then offered in Years 8, 9 and 10 as an elective subject. Each elective focuses on a specific set of dance techniques and skills, choreography and appreciation, while preparing students for our Senior program.

In Years 11 and 12, Dance is offered as an Authority subject which contributes towards both a student’s QCE and OP. The two-year course of study in Dance explores different styles and genres and provides learning opportunities to the students in Choreography, Performance and Appreciation. Full details and information on the curriculum and units offered in Dance can be found in the Middle or Senior School subject selection handbooks. 

Co-curricular Dance - Dance Troupe 

The Downlands College Dance Troupe is the newest co-curricular activity available in The Arts to all students from Years 7 to 12. Students of all ability levels are welcome in the Dance Troupe and performance choreography is specifically designed to utilise the talents of each member and challenge and extend those students who have considerable dance experience and skills.

The Dance Troupe provides both large and small group performance opportunities at College events, external competitions and in the wider community. In addition to technique and skill development, this group is also a great fitness training option.

Specialists groups are regularly formed from within the Dance Troupe to provide extension opportunities for our gifted and talented dancers. This group regularly performs at College events and competes in various dance competitions, including the Toowoomba Eisteddfod.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed for 2017.
Coordinator: Miss Brooke Wendt


Over many years, Downlands has developed a comprehensive and strong Drama program which caters for the interests of our students from Years 7 to 12. With our own dedicated Drama studio space and larger performance venues, the College is able to offer a broad Drama curriculum which fosters and develops the talents of our students. Downlands Drama students can be found as cast members of various productions in and around Toowoomba and many have successfully won Empire Theatre Foundation Youth Bursaries to further support their development as young actors.

Academic Drama

All Downlands students study a compulsory Performing Arts foundation unit in Year 7. This unit introduces the students to some essential elements of classroom Drama. In the Middle School, Drama is offered as an elective for Years 8, 9 and 10, with units that focus on different styles and genres of Drama which appeal to our students and prepare them for our Senior curriculum. These elective units utilise the Australian Curriculum – The Arts syllabus and assess students across the Responding and Making (Forming & Presenting) dimensions of Drama. Students will develop their stagecraft, knowledge of the elements of drama and understanding of the use and structure of various dramatic styles and contexts. The students have the opportunity to perform both within the College and in the wider community.

In the Senior School, Drama is offered as an Authority subject and the two-year course of study contributes towards both a student’s QCE and OP. The Senior Drama program at Downlands challenges our young actors and extends and refines their skills and knowledge across all three dimensions of Drama. The students engage in learning experiences which see them work as directors, writers, actors and critical thinkers across a wide range of styles and genres. Senior Drama students have the opportunity to view live theatre both at the Empire Theatre and in Brisbane, at various points during their studies. Each year, professional actors and theatre companies visit and provide workshops and master classes for our students.

Downlands Drama not only provides the opportunity for students to develop a lifelong love of Drama but to also pursue a career in Drama and complete further studies at a tertiary level. Full details and information on the curriculum and units offered in Drama can be found in the Middle or Senior School subject selection handbooks. These documents are available to download here.

Co-curricular Drama - Drama Clubs

Since its introduction in 2014, the Downlands Drama Club has quickly developed a strong reputation for high-quality performance work and dramatic skill development. In 2014, the group won the Best Video section of the Queensland Youth Shakespeare Festival. With the increased demand and interest in Drama Club, after the College Musical concludes in 2016 the College will offer dedicated Middle and Senior School Drama Clubs.

Middle School Drama Club

This group will be open to all Years 7, 8 and 9 students with a passion and interest in Drama, with a maximum membership of 25 students. The group will bring these students together once a week to develop and refine their performance skills, improvisation skills and their understanding of acting on stage. The group will work towards presenting a performance evening of select dramatic scenes as the culminating activity for 2016. The aim of the Middle School Drama Club is to build a strong foundation of dramatic skills for all Downlands students.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed. 
Coordinator: Ms Joanna Pearson

Senior School Drama Club

The Senior School Drama Club will be open to all Years 10, 11 and 12 students via a successful audition at the start of each year. With a maximum membership of 25 students, this group will bring together the strongest actors, directors and designers at Downlands and engage them in a challenging, project-based set of learning activities. The members of the Senior School Drama Club will have the opportunity to perform within the College and compete in state-wide competitions each year. The culminating activity each year for the Senior School Drama Club will be a performance evening of selected dramatic scenes.

Rehearsal Details:  To be confirmed.
Coordinator: Mr Robert Masters


With the growing rise of digital and visual media and the significant role film, television and other media arts play in the daily lives of most humans, Downlands offers its students the opportunity to not only create and innovate across different media platforms, but to study its structures, key elements and place in history. The use of media, particularly visual media, across most academic and professional disciplines, demonstrates the relevance and advantage that studying Media provides students for their future careers. With the development of our own production studio and links with the growing media industry in Toowoomba, Downlands is well-equipped to provide the best media learning experiences for our students.

Academic Media

Downlands continues to broaden its media curriculum offering in 2016 with the introduction of Year 10 Media. Prior to Year 10, a number of Media learning experiences are embedded in other Arts electives. Downlands students have the opportunity to study Media in Semester Two Year 10, in preparation for our Senior Film, Television and New Media program. This introductory unit, developed from the Australian Curriculum – The Arts syllabus provides a practical, hands-on exploration of the key concepts, techniques, styles and genres associated with media. Students will have the opportunity to plan, shoot and edit their own works and critique hallmark works across their studies.

In Years 11 and 12, Film, Television and New Media is offered at Downlands as an Authority subject, contributing to both a student’s QCE and OP. The two year course of study, explores a range of styles and contexts, assessing students across the Design, Production and Critique dimensions of the subject. Students participate in an annual boot camp which involves a day of on-location filming across Toowoomba. The boot camp concludes with the premier of each student team’s work and the presentation of our own version of the Oscars.

Media Team Videos

The product of the hard work and dedication of our Media students can been seen in the videos created at major College events each year. These videos allow the whole Downlands community to be a part of the events which happen around our campus, which is especially important to our boarding families who live some distance away from the College and are unable to attend these events.

Here are a selection of videos filmed and produced in 2016:


Downlands Visual Art has a long-standing tradition of innovation, creativity and artistic expression. Visual Art has been an essential part of the College and over many decades our Visual Art program has produced professional artists who work in the industry across Australia and overseas, in addition to producing students who continue their practice alongside their professional career.

The investment the College has made in its art collection is a strong testament to the value of the visual arts at Downlands. The works of MSCs, Past Students and staff and some of Queensland and Australia’s leading artists grace the walls of our classrooms across the campus. Downlands students are indeed very fortunate to have such an extensive and vibrant collection on permanent exhibition every day they are at school.

Academic Visual Art

In the Middle School, Visual Art is a foundation subject studied by all Year 7 students. Across this initial unit, the students explore the creation and appreciation of visual art across various mediums, with a focus on the practical aspects of the subject. Elective units are available for students to study in Years 8, 9 and 10 which focus on particular techniques, medium, concepts or contexts of interests to our students and in preparation for our senior program. 

12, Downlands offers two Visual Arts subject choices. The QCAA Senior Visual Art course is an OP-eligible course of study in the visual arts where students focus on critical, cultural and aesthetic understandings through participation in the processes of the visual art experience through Visual Literacy, Application and Appraising.

The second subject option is Visual Arts in Practice. This authority-registered, subject area syllabus foregrounds the role visual arts plays in the community and how students may become involved in community arts activities. This subject focuses on students engaging in art-making processes and making virtual or physical visual artworks for a purpose. This occurs in two to four of the following areas — 2D, 3D, digital and 4D, design, and craft. Students create images, objects, environments or events to communicate aesthetic meaning. The aesthetic meaning will be conveyed in response to a particular purpose and for a particular audience. While this will always be personal, the student may also be asked to consider, use or appropriate aesthetic qualities from various sources, cultures, times and places. Students’ perspectives and visual literacies are shaped by these aesthetic considerations when creating communications and artworks.

Visual Art students across both subjects have the opportunity to attend the annual Downlands Visual Art Camp. In 2015, the students travelled to Stradbroke Island and camped out for two nights, developing their drawing skills and using the natural environment in their own artworks. Senior Visual Art students also have the opportunity to curate their own exhibitions as part of an extension and enrichment program.

All Visual Art students have the opportunity to exhibit their works in the student section of the Downlands Art Exhibition. The Visual Art staff will evaluate the body of student work created each year, early in Term 3 and select works to be exhibited as part of this major College event.

Co-curricular Visual Art - Public Art Group

The Public Art Group is a collective of students who gather once a week to work on creating permanent artworks for the College grounds. The works will generally be sculptural or mural based and have the potential to expose students to a range of media skills that cannot be covered in a classroom setting. These could include, but are not limited to, cement fondue, large-scale ceramics, fibreglass, glass, stone and steel.

The process from start to finish is closely linked to the way artists work with councils and private companies in the public sector and incorporates design briefs, design approvals, maquettes, construction, installation and maintenance. At the completion of each work, students will have a folio of the entire process and a certificate of their involvement that they could easily take to future employers.

In 2015, the group received their first installation commission from our Principal, Mr Stephen McIllhatton after a successful pitch presentation from our students. This artwork was completed and unveiled in 2016.

Activity Details: To be confirmed

Coordinator: Mr Matthew Rutherfoord


Downlands has a long established history of excellence in Music education. The College is justifiably proud of its musicians as they are a dedicated, passionate and gifted group of students. They are generous with their talents and have gained an excellent reputation within their community.

The Music Program has a strong influence throughout the College and all students from Years 7 to 12 are encouraged to get involved in one of the many College ensembles. 

Our history of excellence in music is reflected in the various achievements of our students and Past Students. Downlands musicians successfully participate in public performance within the community, the Toowoomba Eisteddfod, Queensland Catholic Music Festival, national and international tours, camps, Queensland Conservatorium State Honours Ensemble Program, other competitions as well as playing a vital role in the performing and liturgical life of the College.

From Nashville to Broadway, Covent Garden and beyond, past Downlanders can be found performing on the international stage. The Music Program at Downlands prepares our students for a lifelong love of music and equips them with the skills and confidence to pursue a professional career in music. The connection our Past Students have with Downlands often sees them return to the College in order to mentor and give back to the current generation of young Downlands musicians.

Academic Music 

Music is taught as part of the compulsory Performing Arts unit to all Year 7 students and is then offered as an elective through to Year 12. In the Middle School, there are many units offered to cater for a wide range of experience and tastes in music.

In the Senior School, Music is offered through two subjects, Senior Music and Senior Music Extension. In all units, students will be challenged to compose, play and analyse different music and to become familiar with music technology. Downlands regularly produces some of the strongest results for Year 12 students studying Music and Music Extension.

Music Technology

There is a wealth of music technology resources available to the students who are involved in Music at Downlands. Capitalising on the Digital Downlands program, Music students have access to hardware and software resources to turn their laptop into a professional, mobile recording studio. These mobile studios allow our students to compose, record and produce both solo and collaborative covers and original works.

In addition, the students have access to the latest and most innovative Music Technology software titles including Sibelius, Pro Tools, Mixcraft, Guitar Pro, Auralia Cloud Edition, Noteflight and more. We also have specially equipped silent rehearsals stations which allow students to perform and rehearse together using headphones and audio processing technology.

Music Tuition

Downlands offers an extensive Music Tuition program for all students from Years 7 to 12, under the leadership of qualified, private tutors appointed by the College. Our tutors provide lessons from beginner to advanced performance standards and develop an individualised, tailored study program each year for their students.

Students can elect to prepare and sit AMEB performance exams, perform in solo, duet or trio sections of the Toowoomba Eisteddfod or prepare for individual performances at College events or for assessment.

The College offers Music Tuition on the following instruments:

·         Brass (French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, Baritone or Tuba)

·         Woodwind (Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone or Baritone Saxophone)

·         Piano (Classical or Contemporary)

·         Guitar (Acoustic, Electric or Bass)

·         Drum Kit & Percussion

·         Voice (Male & Female Voice)

·         Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello or Double Bass)

In 2016, the following Music Tutors will be teaching lessons at Downlands College:

·         Mrs Lauren Crighton – Flute

·         Mr Ian Dixon – Drums & Percussion

·         Mr Malcolm Gaydon – Upper & Lower Brass

·         Mr Craig Gibbens – Guitar

·         Mr Joseph Goodman – Clarinet, Saxophone & Piano

·         Miss Kaitlyn Orange – Vocal Tutor (Female Voice)

·         Mr Sebastian Maclaine – Vocal Tutor (Male Voice)

·         Mr Wee Wong – Upper & Lower Strings 

Lesson Costs & Minimum Commitment

Lessons may occur individually or in groups of two, subject to the approval of the Music Tutor. Lessons may occur weekly or fortnightly. Lessons are billed individually by each private tutor and are not placed on school accounts. Lesson costs are set at the start of each academic year and follow the official rate set by the Music Teachers Association of Queensland. In 2016, the cost will be $34.00 per 30 minute lesson.

Students starting to learn an instrument for the first time are strongly encourage to make a minimum commitment of six months learning the instrument (one semester). The minimum commitment for all other students is one term. Withdrawal from lessons can only occur at the end of a term, with notice provided in writing.

Lesson Times and Venue

At Downlands, Music Tutors provide weekly 30 minute lessons as the standard arrangement for all students. Lessons occur during the school day and at a set day and time each week.

The students are not placed at a disadvantage by leaving class for lessons each week as the College’s rotating academic timetable ensures the students do not miss the same lesson each week. In addition, as each period is 60 minutes long, students attending Music Tuition lessons will not miss the whole lesson and will still make contact with their classroom teacher before or after their Music Tuition lesson.

Instrument Hire Program

Downlands operates an Instrument Hire Program where students are able to hire a College-owned instrument for the year. The College has a stock of most woodwind, brass and string instruments and provides all of the large percussion instruments required for students.

The instrument hire fee is charged per semester to a family’s fee account and covers the ongoing repair, servicing and maintenance of the instruments. At the start of each new hire, the instruments come freshly serviced and stocked with all consumables required. The College will service the instruments at regular intervals or prior to the start of new hire. Students are responsible for the supply of consumables once the initial allocation runs out.

Further information regarding the Instrument Hire Program and the associated fees for 2016 can be found in the Arts Handbook or by contacting the College via

Enrolling for Lessons

Lessons generally commence at the start of each academic term, where there is a place available with the Music Tutor. Some students may be able to commence part way through the term, should a vacancy arise.

In order to enrol for lessons, please complete our online Music Tuition Enrolment Form.


The choral programme at Downlands continues to enjoy a strong reputation for excellence, energy and spirit in all that they do. There is a choral option available for every student and a large percentage of the College’s total student population are members of one or more choirs. Unlike most coeducational schools, the Downlands choirs continue to grow in numbers and we have a strong culture of males singing in our various choral ensembles.

Gryphon Chorale 

Gryphon Chorale is the premier College choral ensemble. Entry into this elite group of singers is by audition. The group regularly performs challenging and technically demanding repertoire, in both SATB and extended voicings. Gryphon Chorale performs regularly in the wider community and enjoys a well-earned reputation for outstanding musicianship and choral artistry. In 2015, the members of Gryphon Chorale recorded an album of their repertoire at Ghostgum Audio in Brisbane. It will be released in 2016 and CD copies will be available via the College.

Rehearsal Details: Time to be confirmed 
Accompanist: Miss Bonnie Green

The Fortesmen 

The Fortesmen are a non-auditioned TTBB choir open to all male students from Years 7 to 12. They perform contemporary and relevant traditional repertoire in a supportive environment for both changed and unchanged voices. Showmanship and musicality are key focuses of this group and the boys never fail to be entertaining and engaging in performance. At the 2015 Queensland Catholic Music Festival they achieved a Gold award in their secondary choral section.

Rehearsal Details: Time to be confirmed 
Conductor: Mr Shane Tooley
Accompanist: Miss Bonnie Green

Canticum Choir

Canticum Choir is a non-auditioned SSA choir open to all female students from Years 7 to 12. Canticum provides our young female singers with the opportunity to build and refine their vocal technique while performing repertoire specifically arranged to challenge and extend the skills of each member. They sing across many different musical styles and focus on refined tone production and strength.

Rehearsal Details: Time to be confirmed. 
Conductor: Mrs Trina Timbs
Accompanist: Miss Bonnie Green

College Choir

The College Choir is a non-auditioned SATB choir open to all Years 7 to 12 students. In addition to performing varied and interesting repertoire across many different styles, College Choir members also learn the skills to be highly effective singers. The development of strong and safe vocal technique is a particular focus of this group.

Rehearsal Details: Time to be confirmed
Conductor: Mr Shane Tooley
Accompanist: Miss Bonnie Green


The College has an extensive Instrumental and Choral ensemble program, catering to the interests and skills of our students. Performing repertoire from a wide cross-section of musical genres, the College ensembles are engaged in a year-long performance season, including key College events, local competitions and events and other opportunities across Queensland and beyond.

Symphonic Band

The Downlands College Symphonic Band is open to all students who play Woodwind, Brass and Percussion instruments from Years 7 to 12. It performs a wide range of repertoire from original wind ensemble compositions, through to Film Music and Popular Music. After being re-established as an ensemble in 2015, the group went on to achieve second place at the Toowoomba Eisteddfod and was awarded Silver at the Queensland Catholic Music Festival.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed

Conductor: Mr Joseph Goodman

Big Band

The Downlands Big Band is an audition-based ensemble open to those students who play Saxophone, Brass and rhythm section instruments. As the premier College instrumental ensemble, Big Band is regularly on show representing the College in the wider community. Entry into this group is highly sought after and the ensemble has a strong reputation for excellence. In 2015, they were awarded Gold at the Queensland Catholic Music Festival.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed


Percussion Ensemble

One of Downland’s most unique ensembles is the Percussion Ensemble. Entry into this elite group of percussionists (tuned and un-tuned) is by audition, and it serves as an extension ensemble for our percussionists. They perform a diverse and eclectic range of repertoire and utilise all manner of traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments in each performance. Percussion Ensemble has been victorious at the Toowoomba Eisteddfod winning the small instrumental section in both 2014 and 2015. In addition, they were awarded Gold at the Queensland Catholic Music Festival.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed


Jazz Ensemble

Downlands newest instrumental ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, provides an opportunity for all instrumental students with a love for traditional and contemporary Jazz, Swing and Blues. This is a non-auditioned group and is open to all students who play an instrument from Years 7 to 12. With a flexible instrumentation, this group is the ideal place for our students to develop their ensemble skills and gain the experience required to step up into Big Band.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed


String Ensemble

The Downlands String Ensemble is non-auditioned group and membership is open to all students from Years 7 to 12 who play Violin, Viola, Cello or Double Bass. This group of highly dedicated strings players perform traditional and contemporary repertoire, with a strong focus on tone quality and musicianship. In 2015, the String Ensemble competed at the Queensland Catholic Music Festival and was awarded Silver for their performance.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed

Conductor: Mr Wee Wong

Guitar Ensemble

The Guitar Ensemble is open to all students at the College who play Guitar. It provides them an opportunity to be part of an ensemble and experience the social, leadership and team building aspects of working with other musicians in a supportive environment. This non-auditioned group performs contemporary and classical Rock/Pop repertoire, with most of the arrangements formed in collaboration between the ensemble director and the students involved. Improvisation and extended solo opportunities are an important focus of this group.

Rehearsal Details: To be confirmed

Director: Mr Craig Gibbens


The Downlands Musical is held every two years and students participate in all facets of the production to stage this major event.

On and off-stage talent is entirely sourced from the Downlands student body - the actors, dancers, band, stage crew and technical crew. The level of professionalism achieved with every school musical is a great source of pride and joy for the whole College community.

Downlands presented the beloved Gershwin musical Crazy For You on stage in Toowoomba for the very first time, from 10 to 12 May 2018.

With an all singing, dancing and acting cast of over 70 students from Years 7 to 12, this classic tale of a boy, a girl, and a theatre in need of salvation, featured classic Gershwin hits I Got Rhythm, Shall We Dance, Someone to Watch Over Me, and the sold-out performances delighted music lovers of all ages.


In 2016, Downlands College proudly presented Les Misérables as their biennial musical production.

Les Misérables featured in excess of 120 Downlands students performing Boublil & Schonberg's seminal masterpiece, widely regarded as one of the best musicals of the 20th century.

The Graham Centre was transformed into 19th century France for four performances from 28 April 2016. With a 27 piece orchestra, full theatrical lighting and sound, this production was an amazing performance that audiences are still talking about.