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Music Schools BC

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The official blog of the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts and writings; "Artists Don't Need Money"

I wandered across this poem  today by American composer Linda Robbins Coleman. It is a classic, and sums up how I think most artists in British Columbia feel these days with the impending budget cuts and the current demise of Arts funding in this province. I hope everyone follows through the link below to Linda's blog and reads the entire entry. It is not a new poem, but very, very relevant to us here in BC in 2010. Out of respect for copyright I am not posting it here, but please follow link at the bottom.

The following poem first appeared in the Iowa Arts News magazine, volume 27, number 2, in 1994. It is, by far, the most published and requested poem I have written to date.
I originally wrote it in reaction to a telephone call I received asking me to donate my performing services to a luncheon celebrating local philanthropy. As an arts advocate I was happy to participate and to donate my services. But when I was at the luncheon, performing jazz on the piano while everyone ate the catered lunch, my mind wandered. I looked around the room and saw more than a billion dollars of personal wealth in that room, and much more in corporate wealth.
Suddenly I realized that everyone working in that room - from waiters, sound engineers, luncheon organizers, the hotel, the awards manufacturers, the florist, the decorators, the utilities, and the staff who ran the company bestowing the awards - had been or were going to be paid for their services. Even the piano tuner had been paid.
It struck me that I was the only professional in that room who had been asked to donate my services. I was the performing artist. At that time I wasn’t making much more money annually than the waitstaff, either.
No one would have dreamed to ask the caterer to donate the food or the hotel to donate their room. I found it a bit amusing and ironic that I was donating my services at a luncheon celebrating philanthropy. Needless to say, my own philanthropic contribution was not recognized or acknowledged.
A few months after that luncheon I was again called and asked to donate my professional services for another equally worthy cause. Ten minutes after I hung up the telephone, this poem was written.
Thoughts and writings "artists don't need money"
Linda Robbins Coleman

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CBC News - Music - Free youth orchestra debuts in Moncton

A group of 45 Moncton children is participating in an after-school orchestral program fashioned after Venezuela's internationally renowned El Sistema initiative.The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra's pilot program aimed at teaching music to schoolchildren, especially those in low-income areas, officially opened in Moncton on Thursday.The Moncton initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada to develop in the same vein as Venezuela's El Sistema.Students in Grades 1 to 4 started picking up their instruments about five weeks ago.
Ken MacLeod, president of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, said the idea is to put violins, violas, cellos and double basses into the hands of as many children as possible.

After a few short weeks, MacLeod said he is already seeing the payoff.

Read more:
CBC News - Music - Free youth orchestra debuts in Moncton

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

HELP: the Human Early Learning Partnership

It is sometimes difficult to get a clear picture of changing demographics of the communities we serve. One such tool that maybe useful for community music schools is the data being collected and produced by HELP. The studies deal with the assessment of 5 year olds throughout Canada as they ready to enter Kindergarten,  grouped by the areas in which they live. From this data you can track changes in population growth by neighborhood, and also note other trends of child development in your area.

The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) brings together academic, government, school, and community partners to help us understand early child development across British Columbia.Beginning in 1999, HELP has collected and mapped population level child development data province wide. This data has been combined  with socio-economic and community asset information to enhance the understanding of factors that influence children’s development. An important goal of the project is to assist communities in using maps to monitor early child development, and in developing effective local responses that support the needs of children and families. The project is administered by HELP, in partnership with community networks and school districts of British Columbia. The project is funded by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministries of Children & Family Development, Education and Healthy Living and Sport.
The program is directed by Dr. Clyde Hertzman at UBC. You can learn more about the program below. There is a wealth of information available on their website. The latest information released is from studies completed this past fall 2009, with comparative studies looking over the past decade.

Human Early Learning Partnership

An example of a community report:
Community Summary for School District No. 37 Delta
(other reports are for each school district are filed in the same subdirectory, you can find the report for your own district by looking through the directory.)

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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Tyee — Fill Your Opening Ceremony with Arts, then Cut Them

From "The Tyee" article by Mark Lieren-Young. An excellent opinion piece about the current state-of-affairs.

As k.d. lang mesmerized the world with her magical rendition of "Hallelujah," I couldn't shake the image of Gordon Campbell as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, hearing the joyous carols from Whoville, his heart growing ten sizes as Leonard Cohen's lyrics soared to the roof of BC's giant marshmallow tied to a kitchen chair.

By the time the Alberta Ballet left the stage, WO Mitchell had been quoted, Ashley MacIsaac stopped fiddling, the spirit bear puppet took its bow, the First Nations dancers finally dropped from exhaustion and Shane Koyczan slammed out his last syllable about zippers and zeds, I hoped our Premier would realize what he'd been waving his flag for all month long, what was prompting this epic outpouring of hoser pride from Sea to Sea to Sea and why all those hearts around the world were glowing.

All the singing, dancing, drumming, pretty costumes, exotic designs and fancy words being intoned on the loudspeaker by Donald Sutherland is what government funding bodies call "arts and culture." And that would be the part of the provincial budget the Liberal Government recently decided to brutalize. Ninety per cent cuts? That's not "belt-tightening" -- that's premeditated murder by strangulation.

Artists came through

The next time a Liberal MLA -- or anyone -- goes on a rant about the value of arts and culture, skip the stats about how the arts return $1.30 to the economy for every government dollar invested. Don't mention the fact that culture creation is genuinely green. Don't bother pointing out that pretty much every other industry in Canada has some sort or subsidy, incentive or tax break attached to it. And forget the reality that if our galleries, museums and theatres start to close, our tourism industry will be about as inviting as a Stephen Harper smile. Ask them what Canada decided to show off when millions of people tuned in from around the world to find out what our country was all about.

Unless I missed something, there were no spectacular shots of our highways, no visits to mills or mines -- and, with all due respect to our Greatest Canadian, Tommy Douglas, there wasn't any footage of someone on the Olympic stage receiving affordable health care.

The Canadian heroes chosen to share the world stage with our Olympic athletes weren't our politicians, lawyers, or civil servants and our military presence consisted of General Romeo Dallaire, who was introduced as an author. Oh, right, they also threw in an astronaut to represent non-artsy Canadians.

For the next few weeks we're not showing the world our banks, our office towers, or our tar sands -- we're pointing at inukshuks.

If you took all the arts and culture out of the opening ceremonies -- that would include the choreographed torch fun run as the hydraulics performed their scene from Spinal Tap -- all you've got left from the scheduled event are a couple of political speeches, a thanks from VANOC, the athletes entering -- without music -- wearing non-distinctive, undesigned uniforms, and Wayne Gretzky in the getaway truck. I'm sure NBC would have loved that.

The Tyee — Fill Your Opening Ceremony with Arts, then Cut Them

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mastering the Art of Interveiwing

For those of us in the world of Non-profit management, here is an interesting article from BC Business magazine about the fine art of interviewing canditates for your job postings. Those of us working in the arts have to deal with a lot of the same issues as our busniess colleagues, but usually with a lot less resources at hand.

BC Business magazine - article

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Friday, February 5, 2010

The Fatal X: Unquiet Thoughts :

From the League of Orchestras' Audience Demographic Research Review,  an alarming graph that shows a comprehensive downward trend in generational participation in classical music. It uses data  from the National Endowment for the Arts and a further analysis by the McKinsey company. You can see clearly how various generations experienced a bump in participation as they got older. The so-called Generation X, however, has yet to exhibit an upward spike as it moves into middle age.  While this is data from the US, I would assume very similar trends are occurring here. Every classical organization should print out this graph, pin it on the bulletin board, and ponder what is to be done.

The Fatal X: Unquiet Thoughts : The New Yorker by Alex Ross

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elementary school band in Japan

What can be possible. Here is a glimpse of what a top elementary school band can look like in Japan.


Monday, February 1, 2010

How Many Activities should your Child be In?

I am sure this story rings true with many of us in the teaching profession. There is a small segment of our students that always seem to be over programmed by their parents.They have no time to practice, or are always cancelling their lessons because of conflicts with other extracurricular activities. It seems some parents use extracurricular activities as a method of extended day care, which creates  situations where no one wins, and the child accomplishes nothing. Here is an article about this from this morning's Vancouver Sun:

While many parents pressure their children to become the next hockey champion or entertainment idol, Anita Wyczynski is allowing her children to focus on one or two activities they enjoy most.
"I do think kids should experience all sorts of different things, whether it be sports, art, or music," Wyczynski says from her home in Ottawa.
"Eventually, they pick what they're passionate about, or what they excel at, and they take it from there."
Wyczynski's children -- Alexa, 13, and Jordana, 2 -- both participate in sports. Wyczynski says Alexa's passion is for hockey, but she also plays basketball at school and takes one hour of dance lessons each week. Jordana takes baby gymnastics and swimming lessons.
Read the Article at the Vancouver Sun - Feb.1, 2010

The fine line between brilliance and burnout

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