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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

When the music teacher’s email came in and said, 'This is a time to have fun,’ I got a little choked up

Music Monday will be very different this year for students and teachers, but for Karen Withers’ class, their Monday lesson will start the way it always does - whether in school or virtually - with a joke:

What kind of soap did the composer use? ... anti-BACH-terial soap!

It is one of the ways Withers, a music teacher at Nanaimo’s Ecole Pauline Haarer elementary, is helping her students continue to feel a sense of routine and normalcy while in-class learning is suspended and school lessons happen remotely.

Bringing music to students and creating lifelong lovers of music has always been a passion of mine,” said Withers. “In this unusual situation we find ourselves, I really wanted to be a source of connection and comfort for my students, the majority of whom I have taught for many years. At this same time, I wanted to create some normalcy in the school lives by continuing with programs we do on a regular basis.”

Music Monday, celebrated this year on May 4, is one of the world’s largest single events dedicated to raising awareness about music education. Normally, this event is a series of live concert performances at venues across the country. This year, however, it is moving online to help people maintain physical distancing during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from over 100 BC schools are joining hundreds of thousands of people from across Canada #TogetherInHarmony to celebrate. The event will be live-streamed for 12 hours on YouTube and on Facebook.

Music is an integral part of any student’s education, and I’m heartened to see it continuing as much as possible,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education.

Teachers, students and parents are using creative and innovative ways of bringing music from their classrooms into homes. What a great way to celebrate Music Monday during an unprecedented time.”

At Vancouver’s Van Horne Elementary, music teacher Bev Williams is asking her students to celebrate Music Monday by making musical connections.

Whether it’s going on FaceTime to sing for a grandparent, sharing a piece of music with a family member, interviewing a relative and finding out what music means to them or a little bit about their family’s musical heritage and traditions, or creating a joint playlist with their friends and listening to the same music, I want them to feel the power of music to bring people together,” said Williams.

The positive connection between music teachers and their students is being noted and appreciated by parents.

Yukari Peerless, whose son is in Grade 6 and plays cello at Victoria’s Lansdowne Middle School, was put at ease when her son’s music teacher gave her son a little more time to breathe. Rather than having to meet a regular practice schedule at home, he now sends a video assignment and participates in optional Zoom sessions. Peerless said that small gesture went a long way in her household, reducing stress in what is a challenging time.

When the music teacher’s email came in and said, 'This is a time to have fun,’ I got a little choked up – and that was at the end of March,” said Peerless. “I think my son also felt the same way, I could tell when I saw his face sort of light up. It was so important to us.”

In North Vancouver, Argyle Secondary band director Diana Chan tasked her students to explore different ways to make music away from school. She then put together a video highlighting how some of her students have used this time to practice, improvise, record and produce their own music.

I am very lucky to be part of such a talented and creative community,” said Chan. "There was no shortage of cool projects that students shared with me.”

These are some of the many ways teachers and students are responding to new and creative ways to learn music in BC schools, on Music Monday and beyond.

Now more than ever, Canadians understand the vital role that music plays within our culture,” said Eric Favaro, chair of the Coalition for Music Education.

Music Monday brings us together to demonstrate our immense love for music and the important role it plays in the shaping of young lives.”

CLICK HERE for more information about Music Monday, and to watch online.


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