Sustaining Music Education in Canada Starts in Elementary Schools
November 21, 2022
Many kids find their home in music class. It’s a safe space for discovery, experimentation, and collaboration. Strong homes start with a solid foundation, so investing in elementary education is a critical component in sustaining music education in Canada. The MusiCounts Band Aid Program supports solid musical foundations by awarding grants to elementary schools so educators can set students up with the tools to enjoy and make music for the rest of their lives.
Chebucto Heights Elementary School - Halifax, NS
Many of the students at Chebucto Heights Elementary School (CHES) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, first come to the school without speaking any English. Music is often the first language kids at this school can share with each other.
Educators at CHES have been making do with a $200 annual budget, which means that instruments are sourced in the most economical way; sometimes instruments are even handmade, like a set of shakers made with corn and held together with tape.
Their MusiCounts Band Aid Program grant has transformed the music program at the school. Students can play on instruments that range from djembe drums to those made with a Mi’kmaq Elder, celebrating the many cultures that call CHES home. With this influx of funds, there are now enough instruments to go around. Every kid has a chance to make music and share their unique perspective as they build community and connect through music.
Breah Himmelman, music educator at Chebucto Heights Elementary School, unboxing new instruments with students.
GW Carlson Elementary - Fort Nelson, BC
The music program at GW Carlson Elementary was about as lively as could be expected after over 15 years of budgetary neglect. With absolutely no annual budget and decades-old instruments, this K-4 school in a small Northeastern town in British Columbia couldn’t offer meaningful music programming to students, many of whom come from families struggling with poverty.
A MusiCounts Band Aid Program grant in 2022 has breathed new life into the school by making the purchase of djembe drums, recorders, and handheld percussion instruments possible. Now every single student at the school receives formal music instruction every week of the school year, meaning they can build a solid foundation in music that will carry them through their lives.
Riverview Elementary School - Verdun, QC
When it rains, it pours, and the staff and students at Riverview Elementary School in Verdun, Quebec, know this all too well. A series of unfortunate events, including a devastating flood in 2018 and pandemic closures, have meant that school resources have been diverted away from music and towards the replacement of furniture and materials.
Despite these hardships, the passion for music is alive at Riverview. Students benefitted from ongoing percussion and rhythm instruction, and had been making do with a handful of instruments. Educators at the school applied for MusiCounts Band Aid Program funding, and are now able to incorporate pitched percussion instruction to students to broaden their experience.