Town Hall - The Back to School Conversation

August 30, 2021

This MusiCounts Learn Town Hall brought together educators, artists, and researchers for a conversation on why music education is essential for young people as we head back to school in another unpredictable year. The panelists discussed how the role of music education has evolved during the pandemic, particularly in supporting the wellness needs of students. We also explored what we've learned during the pandemic, and how there may be some valuable lessons to carry forward into the future. This Town Hall conversation reminded everyone--teachers, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders--that music should play a critical role in supporting young people through their pandemic recoveries, and that now is the time to advocate for, and invest in, music education.

Moderated by: Nick Godsoe, Manager, Programs & Education at MusiCounts

Panelists

Dr. Bina John

Assistant Professor of Music Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Dr. Bina John is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. She teaches undergraduate/graduate courses in Music and Urban Engagement, Psychological Foundations, Social Psychology of Music, and Music in Childhood. She is the Co-Chair for the Anti-Racism & Anti-Oppression Committee at the Faculty of Music. Currently, Dr. John is working on several collaborative research projects; providing youth residing in detention centers access to music education, developing music curriculum for a mixed reality video game for children with cerebral palsy; and exploring experiences of performing during the COVID-19 pandemic across three distinct groups of athletes, pianists and vocalists.

Taes Leavitt

aka "Boots" Splash'N Boots & 'The Big Heart Journey', Toronto, ON

Taes has created a magical & successful career grounded in her love for children, & her deep desire to help kids feel seen, heard & loved for exactly who they are. A little more on Taes... 

  • Also known as the “Boots” half of JUNO Award-winning children’s super-duo of Canadian Music, “Splash’N Boots.”
  • She’s performed 900+ live concerts for families around the world
  • She’s written and filmed 100+ episodes of their original TV show ‘The Big Yellow Boot’.  
  • She’s produced segments for Sesame Street & performed with “The Wiggles”, “Sharon & Bram” & “Fred Penner”…(not to mention released a new song with Alice Cooper).

Taes has devoted the last 5+ years to exploring & studying meditation, mindfulness & dance. Taes realized that traditional notions of meditation/mindfulness were not accessible, realistic, or ‘fun’ for kids. Her personal journey into meditation/mindfulness & continued research in this area, inspired Taes to create a program for children & their families which re-invents traditional practices of meditation/mindfulness & gives them a magical spin.

Dr. Mary Piercey-Lewis

Music Educator at Inuksuk High School, 2021 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year, Iqaluit, NU

Dr. Mary Piercey-Lewis is the music teacher at Inuksuk High School, where she directs the Inuksuk Drum Dancers and the Inuksuk High School Concert Band, and teaches courses in guitar, band, choir, music theory, and song writing. She has taught music to students in Arviat, and now Iqaluit, Nunavut for over twenty years. Her doctoral research in ethnomusicology explored how Inuit of Arviat, Nunavut use music to negotiate what it means to be “Inummariit” (real Inuit) in response to sociocultural changes since the 1920s. Her teaching strategies incorporate a premise of music education as social justice. She works with Inuit elders, Inuit singers/songwriters, drum makers, throat singers, and story tellers to produce and implement music education curricula and programs that promote Inuit identity, “Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit” (Traditional Indigenous Knowledge), and youth leadership through the study and performance of music. Dr. Piercey-Lewis hopes to continue to contribute her music education expertise and composition skills to the development of culturally and age-appropriate teaching and resource materials with the MusiCounts team. In 2021, Dr. Piercey-Lewis was named the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year.

Mark Reid

District Resource Teacher with the Vancouver School Board, 2013 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year, Richmond, BC

Mark Reid is a leading Canadian educator, combining professional volunteerism, innovative practice, and global collaboration to model modern approaches to teaching. Mr. Reid’s career includes classroom teaching in both public and independent schools, curriculum development for the British Columbia Ministry of Education, and coaching colleagues in educational technology implementation across BC. Mark is currently a District Resource Teacher for Career Education in Vancouver, BC.

Mark is a TeachSDGs Ambassador, Google for Education Certified Trainer, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Global Teacher Prize Ambassador, 2013 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year, 2015 Global Teacher Prize finalist, 2017 Qudwa Fellow, and a member of the adjunct faculty at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Mark’s most recent work includes numerous speaking engagements in Canada, the US, Middle East, and Southeast Asia, along with learning resource development for MusiCounts Learn, notably the Canadian Music Playlist Challenge and the upcoming TRACK resource package.


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Looking for More?

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This MusiCounts Learn Town Hall was presented by