A funny thing happened on Nov. 6. While 30 people crammed into Caledonia Senior Secondary School’s lecture theatre to listen to candidates for school trustee, across the parking lot in the REM Lee Theatre, 300-plus people relaxed into an evening of the bands from Skeena Junior Secondary School strutting their musical stuffs.
The audience from the REM Lee left smiling and laughing and humming tunes. I’ll leave it to your imagination regarding the mental state of those who stumbled numbly away from the speechifiers at Cal.
Thus it was hilarious to read that the District Eighty-Two Brain Trust (DEBT) is now ready to take an axe to the band proram in Terrace and in Thornhill. They’re using school reconfiguration as an excuse to prune the number of music teachers in the area back from six to two, and exterminating band for sixth-graders in the process.
I’m not certain what planet DEBT administrators come from but here on Planet Earth the native tongue is music. Infants listen to the melodies and the harmonies (and yes, the dissonances) around them long before they can even start focussing visually. They use sounds to delimit and interpret our world. And way before they figure out that there are lyrics, they establish alikeness with the Big Ones by goo-ing and coo-ing and bawling their little heads off, too.
Words can wait. It’s the music that comes first. And like any language, the time to master it is while you’re still young and absorbent. Our school district already has to bear the ignominy of having consolidated the two schools of Suwilaawks into a single unit by the next expedient of cramming the two populations together.
So what if it meant banishing band into a tin-can trailer in the middle of the playground? See, everything fits. And anything, apparently, goes.
But back to the REM/Cal parking lot. Which group do you suppose went home savouring the dividend on the educational dollar, and thinking, “Hey, our school system does pretty good, even on a shoe-string budget?”
Well, let’s keep that group in the majority – and keep the elementary band programme up and humming.