Don’t take music from our schools

A reader and retired music specialist explains the value of music in schools

Dear Sir:

As a recently-retired music specialist, I look back in awe at the quality of music instruction in this school district.

That quality is driven by the dedication and expertise of qualified music specialists.  Terrace school music programs are among the best in B.C. That’s why Terrace has a community band, a symphony orchestra, the Pacific Northwest Music Festival, stellar high school musicals and a great concert series.

Our town’s school music programs have produced many professional musicians, including a Juno nominee. Musical excellence is an integral part of Terrace’s identity.

In 1998, Terrace’s school music programs were on the chopping block, and hundreds of people in our community fought hard to save them, but the school board cut elementary band, kindergarten and grade 6 classroom music from the curriculum.

The Dare to Dream Foundation filled in the gap and eventually the school district reinstated elementary band.

Terrace’s school music programs are on the chopping block again. Suwilaawks quietly axed its music program a year ago, replacing it with a general fine arts program taught by a non-specialist teacher.  This year, for the first time in 47 years, Suwilaawks had no participation in the Pacific Northwest Music Festival. Now classroom music programs at Cassie Hall and Ecole Mountain View are also about to be eliminated, initiating little or no consultation with parents or teaching staff.  These are programs that feed into elementary and high school band, community band and orchestra. Eliminating these programs would be cutting off the band program at the ankles. Eventually, we’d be saying goodbye to elementary and secondary band. There is a huge body of research that unequivocally demonstrates that good music programs taught by music specialists lead to significant and outstanding educational outcomes – our kids are smarter, learn more, and are happier. Children who attend regular music classes score higher in math and reading skills. Music education improves memory and helps with social skills,  builds confidence and patience. It is how we often worship and is integral to our spiritual lives. And beyond that, playing music is just plain fun. It ignites a light in us that’s often hard to access at school in other ways.

Music for all children is a cause worth fighting for. Rather than gnawing away at the excellent musical tradition in our schools and community, the school district should be actively supporting it, and expanding it as a cost-effective way to get to better educational outcomes.

Replacing music programs taught by highly trained music specialists, with programs taught by non-specialists, can only lead to one outcome:  students with fewer skills in an increasingly complex and scary world. Parents are the key to retaining classroom music and band programs. They are in a much stronger position than teachers to influence decisions made by principals and district administration. And the parents of children in schools at risk need to make their voices heard loudly and clearly.  This is not a subtle shift in school board policy, it is a very significant degradation of one Terrace’s proudest traditions – a strong and vibrant musical education program.

Anne Hill,

Terrace, B.C.

 

Just Posted

Terrace Industrial Park build-out continues

Containerized LNG, forestry among potential manufactured goods

Body, burning truck found near Dease Lake

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

President and CEO leaving Coast Mountain College

Burt will say goodbye to CMNT come September

‘Tent city’ and homelessness a polarizing issue in Terrace

City of Terrace gives an update, says province should step in to help with housing, mental health

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read