Every Kid Belongs in Music Class: Fostering Inclusive Spaces Through Responsive Programming

September 27, 2022

Music class should be an inviting place for every kid to learn, create, get inspired, and feel a sense of belonging. Fostering these spaces can be challenging for music educators when the resources available to expand upon the prevalent - and perhaps dominant - Western traditional style of pedagogy are limited. Students have varied interests, backgrounds, and needs, and music classrooms can celebrate their uniqueness. We’ve supported many incredible schools through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program that have identified a need to better reflect students in their music education programming. Grants have been used to purchase a wide variety of instruments supporting a broad range of approaches to music education to ensure students across Canada find a place in the music classroom.

For École spécialisée de l’Envol in Québec City, QC, an aging inventory of instruments and equipment was more than a hassle; it was an issue of accessibility. This elementary school serves youth with cognitive exceptionalities, many of whom are hypo- and hyper-sensitive to sound. The school’s 30 year-old sound system was showing signs of wear and tear as it produced disruptive harsh frequencies, alienating many students from the music room. Since successfully applying for a MusiCounts Band Aid Program grant in 2022, the school has been able to upgrade this system, as well as purchase a class set of keyboards, to provide a music program suited to the needs of the students participating.

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay, ON also sought support from the MusiCounts Band Aid Program in 2022. This federally-funded school run by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council serves students from 24 First Nation communities in Northern Ontario; many of these students have moved away from parents, family, and friends in order to attend the school and complete their high school education. Educator Sean Spenrath recognized the emotional challenges many students face as a result of these circumstances, and thought of a way to make kids feel connected to the people they miss, even when far from home: music. Thanks to the MusiCounts Band Aid Program and Sean’s ingenuity, the school will be introducing a radio program for students to broadcast to family and friends on-reserve. Through this program, students will be exposed to the opportunities in media and the music industry, all while keeping loved ones tuned-in to their education.

“When students come to my class, there are things that are familiar, and it piques their interest.”

-Zeda Ali, Music Educator at Sunnyview Middle School

Sunnyview Middle School in Brampton, ON serves a large population of Caribbean students, many of whom face immense socioeconomic challenges and are only able to access music education through school. Zeda Ali, music educator at Sunnyview, has been proud to provide this critical access to students, but recognized that the Eurocentric curriculum was not representing nor celebrating these kids. Despite her desire to offer more culturally-relevant programming, there was no annual budget for the music program. Zeda felt that “students who live below the poverty line have been neglected.” Through a revitalized music program, she aspired to “elevate students and provide them with a good program that represents who they are." In 2022, Sunnyview Middle School received a grant through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program to purchase steel pan drums and introduce Jamaican grassroots music to the classroom. Now, the school’s music program is better aligned with the needs, interests, and cultural backgrounds of the students served.

While these schools may vary in their approaches to music education, they share the common struggle of lacking the necessary funds to provide programming that honours the students they serve. The MusiCounts Band Aid Program is proud to support schools seeking to introduce or revitalize programming that is reflective of the students participating, through means such as culturally-relevant pedagogy, innovative music production technology, or adaptive programming. The program awards grants of up to $15,000 to purchase any kind of instrument, helping educators make sure every kid knows that they can - and do - belong in music class.

Apply Today

Apply to the MusiCounts Band Aid Program by 11:59pm EDT on October 21, 2022 to be entered for a chance to receive 1 of 3 $1,000 mini MusiCounts Band Aid Program grants to support any approach to music education at your school. Applications close at 11:59pm EST, November 24, 2022. Learn more and get started on your application today.