Band plays on

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

a mu­sic teacher at Wood­land Ele­men­tary for 16 years.

“ The ini­tial re­ac­tion from the kids when we said we had enough for ev­ery­body, we had more be­sides to the point we could open it up to other stu­dents, they were ec­static.”

MusiCounts, a Cana­dian mu­sic char­ity fo­cused on help­ing aid mu­sic pro­grams at schools, awarded the grant, called a Band Aid Grant.

Wood­land Ele­men­tary, lo­cated in Dildo, had lit­tle over a dozen in­stru­ments to use be­fore the grant was re­ceived. Now, the school has 35 new in­stru­ments plus a per­ma­nent drum kit to add to its arse­nal, in­clud­ing vi­o­lins and var­i­ous con­cert band in­stru­ments.

This will al­low the band to grow from 18 mem­bers to be­tween 55-60 stu­dents. That rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately a quar­ter of Wood­land Ele­men­tary’s stu­dents.

The school had been able to raise funds to pur­chase in­stru­ments in the past. A con­cert held last year man­aged to raise $900 to pur­chase three new clar­inets.

“ That’s per­fect, but when you’re look­ing at 30 kids want­ing to be in­volved, three clar­inets only gives you a small por­tion of where you want to be,” says Brown.

Wood­land Ele­men­tary has had a school band in the past, but the pro­gram only restarted last year, and Brown es­ti­mates about two-thirds of the in­stru­ments were in good shape.

“ We were send­ing them off for re­pairs all the time last year, and it just seemed like we couldn’t get very far ahead with it,” she says.

To ob­tain the MusiCounts grant, the school had to sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion, along with letters of sup­port from the school’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, Brown, the school coun­cil, and com­mu­nity lead­ers. The school re­ceived news of the ap­pli­ca­tion’s suc­cess in the last week of Septem­ber.

Brown says her stu­dents are learn­ing ba­sic be­gin­ner pieces, with an ear to­wards even­tu­ally learn­ing full con­cert band num­bers by the end of this year. The vi­o­lin group will fo­cus on tra­di­tional New­found­land mu­sic.

“I’m hop­ing that they’ll play (New­found­land folk song) Mus­sels in the Corner by June,” she says, adding the band’s first con­cert will hope­fully co­in­cide with Ed­u­ca­tion Week in March.

The re­vi­tal­iza­tion of Wood­land Ele­men­tary’s school band will be of ben­e­fit to Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town, of­fer­ing a good feeder pro­gram to help the ju­nior and se­nior high mu­sic pro­grams.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Brown says the in­flux of new in­stru­ments will al­low younger stu­dents at Wood­land Ele­men­tary to be­come in­volved with the band pro­gram, which has tra­di­tion­ally fo­cused on stu­dents in grades 4-6.

“Now, we have stu­dents in grades 1 and 2 tak­ing part. Imag­ine what a lit­tle flute player in Grade 2 is go­ing to be able to do by the time he or she is in Grade 6. The longevity of it will hope­fully pro­vide us with qual­ity mu­si­cians by the time they reach up­per ele­men­tary to in­crease the dif­fi­culty of the songs.”

As of Nov. 18, the school had the ma­jor­ity of its pur­chases on site, with only 10 vi­o­lins, a trum­pet and trom­bone yet to ar­rive.

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