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Music Schools BC

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Neil Gaiman addresses the University of Arts class 2012

Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. Gaiman's writing has won numerous awards, including Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker, as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal and 2010 Carnegie Medal in Literature. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Role of the Community Music School in audience building

What is the role of the local Community Music School with presenting concerts? Do we do this because we want to educate audiences in our communities about various forms of music? Do we do this to give gigs to local musicians and help keep the Arts Alive? Do we have our own concert facilities in-house or are we renting space? Do for-profit music schools also engage in these same sorts of concerts? Why or Why not?

There has been an interesting discussion online for the past few weeks about Jazz music and its shrinking audience. It began with this Huffington Post article (which is well worth a read if you are remotely involved with arts programming, not just jazz, lots of great background info in the article which I will not repost here) which explores the notion that creating viable audiences for jazz and other forms of art music is a simple matter of education. There has been a belief for the past few years that somehow if we could just educate the kids properly we would find ourselves back in the era of John Coltrane and local jazz clubs with live musicians on every street corner. Jazz pianist Kurt Ellenberger makes the case in his article that life is not that simple; all the educational forces in the world will not bring back jazz cafes on every block.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BC Culture Days

Culture Days is a collaborative, Canada-wide volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. The first annual Culture Days event swept across more than 700 Canadian cities and towns during the last weekend of September 2010, generating an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm in the process. This year’s Culture Days weekend will take place on September 28, 29 & 30. Once again, the event will feature free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind the scenes”—and to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, and designers at work in their community.
As a grassroots, collaborative movement, Culture Days relies on your participation. Whether as an arts or cultural organization, an artist, a municipality, a school, a citizen, a business person…everyone can play a role in shaping this event. So get involved! Browse the 2012 Activities to learn more about what to expect in British Columbia as Canadians from coast to coast to coast prepare for the second annual Culture Days weekend this fall!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Music Monday shares key message

The language that unites every being on the planet is being cut out of many schools in an effort to save cash
by Bramwel Tovey

Every year, the Coalition for Music Education calls out to Canadians to participate in Music Monday, the first Monday of May, to celebrate and demonstrate their commitment to music education in the lives of young people and communities.

It is the world's largest single event dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of music education. This year, hundreds of thou-sands of students across Canada will unite in song today for the seventh annual nationwide Music Monday celebration.

In Vancouver, there will be a midday concert at Robson Square Plaza. Half a dozen school groups (from elementary to secondary, from drum circles to jazz choirs and concert bands) will be performing. I am looking forward to conducting a mass performance of the Music Monday song (Tomorrow is Coming) by Juno award-winning artist Luke Doucet.

Music Monday exists to celebrate the galvanizing power of music and demonstrate how that power is rooted in school music programs.

Schools participating in Music Monday are among the fortunate - most of them have music programs. However, many young students in Canada are not this fortunate; music classes, resources and specialist teachers have faced serious cuts or elimination throughout the country. In our own province, many school districts have reacted to budget difficulties by restricting access to music in their schools.

Music Monday is an opportunity to raise awareness about the value and importance of music education. The arts are not "frill" subjects.

Rather, they are at the core of a well-rounded education. At the VSO we believe an education without a significant musical component is no education at all.

Music is a language that links every human being on the planet. It needs little or no translation. In a school district like Vancouver, where dozens of languages are spoken by our widely diverse community, music is the only language common to everyone. Our society needs to be producing students who are creative as well as self-disciplined, who can work in teams as well as on their own. Learning music teaches these skills. We need all our children to have the opportunity to enjoy music in all its forms.

And remember: If a student holds a musical instrument, then he or she can't hold a knife, or a joint, or a needle or a crack pipe - or a gun.

If students are in a choir or a band or an orchestra, they are communicating through the universal art of music at the heart of our community.

Anyone can join the national movement for music education by visiting www.musicmakesus.ca or on Facebook www.facebook.com/music-makesus.ca.
Maestro Bramwell Tovey is the music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

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Demand for More Arts Organizations is Internally - not Externally - Driven

I believe from my own experience in working in the arts in BC that there is truth in this article right here at home. Indeed many arts organizations are not formed based on any perceived actual demand or need from the community.  One of the basic tenants of Barry's argument I think is by no means limited to just arts organizations; that need for all of us to have some control of our own destiny in terms of our spiritual, work and artistic lives.

Many organizations, not just arts organizations unfortunately create environments where the individual artists or in the non-arts corporate world "employees" become frustrated and leave a workplace because the top-down traditional management style does not seem to value their opinions, their beliefs, or their work. Yes many new artistic endeavours are formed by artists simply seeking employment; or on a larger level sometimes pre-existing organizations find what seems to be an opportunity to extend their mandate perhaps beyond where it realistically should be and wind up confusing their traditional support base in the process. But this happens in the traditional business world everyday as well.  I have been struck time and time again how here in the "wild west" sometimes artists form new concert series, ensembles, and yes even music and arts training and performance organizations are created more out of some perceived personal or organizational need, rather than a good simple analysis of the forces of supply and demand within the communities that they exist. Only Barry's third point seems to take external forces into account (see below).  At the end of the day however, the Darwinian notion of "survival of the fittest" still seems to apply, as even with the best of intentions, not all of us will succeed. Welcome to the free marketplace!

The rest of this post is a quotation from "Barry's Blog" - Sunday May 6th, 2012

The question though is why do so many (of our) people apparently feel the need to start new organizations rather than find a platform for what they want to do within the existing infrastructure? What are the needs that are not being met that gives rise to this kind of unbridled growth - given that the public demand is, at best, constant? We don't seem to have any reliable hard data that would give us some handle on the motivations of all of those that feel compelled to go outside what exists and start a new structure to do what it is they want to do. So we don't have any real discussions about whether or not there are factors at play that we might be able to impact so as to give those seemingly dissatisfied or unhappy with the existent structures available to them more opportunity to stay within the infrastructure as an alternative to going outside of it with yet another new enterprise. It would be enormously valuable to have some reliable data as to the reasoning behind this trend.

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