Curator’s Blog

The School of Total Education — A 1982 Radio Documentary

At the start of 1977 a new independent school opened its doors in the Melbourne inner city suburb of St Kilda. The School of Total Education was the realisation of a dream by Indian-Australian author, educationalist and Yoga teacher, Vijayadev Yogendra. The opening had been preceded by years of planning, preparation and training of teachers. Something of the history of the school and its genesis can be found on the website at www.sote.qld.edu.au.

In 1981 a sister school was established in the Queensland rural township of Warwick.

The School of Total Education Melbourne campus circa 1980 (left). Warwick campus circa 1981 (right).

A year after the opening of the Warwick school, Denzil Howson chose the school as the subject matter for a short radio documentary, originally broadcast on ABC radio. It was one of a series covering a variety of topics which he titled “This Australia” and which eventually ran to nearly 100 programs.

In this 17-minute documentary you will hear the voices of the following people:

  • Vijayadev Yogendra, school founder.

  • Richard Waters, principal.

  • Teachers Michael and Judy Funder.

  • School parents Noel Rogers and Murray Mardardy.

The interview with Vijayadev Yogendra and Richard Waters was conducted over landline between the ABC studio in Toowoomba and an ABC studio in Melbourne.

The remaining interviews were recorded at the school campus in Melbourne.

Listen Now: Click the play button on the audio player:

Download: Click here to download an mp3 (14.3mB).

Technical Notes on the Restoration

The 1982 landline interviews were recorded at the ABC in Melbourne on 1/4 inch reel-to-reel tape. Denzil’s interviews at the Melbourne school campus were recorded on cassette and transferred to reel-to-reel tape. The linking voice-overs were recorded at Denzil’s home studio on reel-to-reel tape. Denzil had spliced these elements together into a composite reel, with gaps left for insertion of sound effects and elements requiring overlaps. A final mix from this composite tape and one or more effects tapes or discs had been made onto a full-track master. This master tape was not present in Denzil’s collection — having probably been sent to the National Film and Sound Archive in the 1990s.

But the spliced composite tape was present and formed the starting point for this restoration. The tape was played on a Revox B77 and digitised on an Edirol R44 at 96kHz and 24-bit. This file was taken into iZotope RX for extensive cleanup that included: removal of intrusive hum and spurious noises; surgically removing numerous telemetry beeps from the landline recording; and reducing room reverberation on the Melbourne campus recordings.

Fortunately I did have a (rather hissy) cassette copy of the final master mix to use as a guide in restoration and from this was able to retrieve the classroom discussion audio, which required pitch correction in iZotope RX.

There were missing sound effects which could not be copied from the cassette of the master mix because they needed to be faded under other material. Hence these needed to be replaced.

I found a suitable effects track of school playground sounds and for the school orchestra a beginners Suzuki classroom group was a suitable substitution (the Suzuki method was taught in the school in its early days).

All of these elements were brought into Logic Pro X, split into separate clips and tracks and carefully re-assembled and re-mixed. Finally clip gain adjustments were made to even out overall level and loudness readings.

In addition I added the music at the end — an excerpt from The Well Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach, to punctuate an otherwise rather abrupt ending.

The final mix was exported from Logic Pro X, downsampled to 44.1kHz in iZotope RX and from there exported as mp3 and ogg versions. Tags were added in Music Tag Editor Pro.

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