Canadian Musician - July/August 2017 - Page 47

After one session, a teacher said: “I noticed that even the chil- dren who have some behavioural challenges were fully engaged with the programming and calmed down. With the room full of instru- ments formed in concentric circles, I felt that it added to the philoso- phy of community at the Africentric school.” JPEC is one of several not-for-profit organizations with a school program. In JPEC’s case, musicians are paid to visit one or more class- rooms and conduct workshops, either as individuals or in groups. The kids come away inspired to learn. Teacher and musician Andre Soares uses all kinds of music ensembles as a way to teach repertoire, soloing, listening, and basic music theory. fits of music. Study after study tells us that music education enhances learning on many fronts. School curriculum is set by individual provinces, and some are more positive about music education than others. For example, the Manitoba curriculum for grades 1-8 says: “Music enriches a vibrant culture and is integral to human life. It has the power to illuminate, deepen, broaden, and enhance human experience. Music and mu- sicians have an impact on daily experience, help define and express individual and collective identities, and shape, reflect, and comment upon societal and cultural values.” Integral to human life. That’s a pretty strong statement. Ontario’s curriculum document for kindergarten to grade eight is a little different: “Since arts experiences offer other modes and ways of experiencing and learning, children will have opportunities to think and feel as they explore, problem solve, express, interpret, and evaluate the process and the results. To watch a child completely en- gaged in an arts experience is to recognize that the brain is on, driven by the aesthetic and emotional imperative to make meaning, to say something, to represent what matters.” PBS Parents, a parenting resource from the American public broadcaster, reports the benefits of making music: “Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, co-founder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.” But is the money where the political mouths are? He has seen resources in schools reduced for the arts, including music. If teachers, faculty, and parents want music for their children, teachers are responsible for making it happen themselves. “I usually have to contact the people who will provide the funds,” Soares notes. Because some of the kids he teaches come from low-income families, he spends his own time researching and arranging for them to attend symphony performances and other events, as well as bring- ing musicians to his school. Tafelmusik, the internationally known Canadian baroque or- chestra and chamber choir, does its part by offering free afternoon concerts, providing 150 free tickets to full performances for student audiences, advancing downloadable preparatory materials for teach- ers and parents, and arranging musician visits to schools throughout North America. There are others, too, but often, for the kids to get up close and personal, money is needed to pay for workshops and musicians. We know that music is social. Music in schools can bring people together for all kinds of causes says James Miller, a grade eight teach- er in Newmarket, ON. Music, he says, can be the catalyst for fundrais- ing events, recognition events like Black History Month, and special campaigns like anti-bullying and mental health awareness. Miller is also a professional musician, has taught songwriting at York Region Arts camp for seven years, and conducted local e