Band plays on
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.