The music coming from Tanya Ross’s classroom at Hamlet Public school will soon sound a little bit sweeter.
The school’s music instructor recently applied and was approved for a $5,000 grant to purchase additional instruments. Hamlet is one of 70 schools across Canada receiving funding this year from national music education charity MusiCounts through its Band Aid Grant program, which aims to equip school music programs with the necessities to give students the chance to discover their musical talent.
Ross learned about the grant program several years ago when Anne Hathaway Public school successfully applied for and received funding. The application process was fairly extensive, she says, noting not only did she have to show that there is a need in the school for enhanced musical education, but also provide letters of support from members of the school community, from the board on down to the parent council.
Ross was inspired to apply for the grant after taking an informal survey of her students back in the fall to learn how many of them receive some form of musical instruction outside of school. Out of a class of 30, just three or four kids take piano lessons, she notes.
“I really couldn’t believe it. When I went to school almost every kid took piano or something else outside of the school.”
Because Hamlet draws students from some lower-income areas in the city, Ross suggests some families simply don’t have the money to put their kids in extra curricular activities. That’s why it’s all the more important they get every opportunity to experience music to its fullest at school.
“Regardless of what side of town they live on in Stratford, I think they all deserve a chance to learn an instrument and play an instrument and feel success.”
Just before March break, Ross ordered with the grant a set of large djembe drums for a new program she is planning, alto recorders so that the kids can learn harmonies, and an assortment of percussion instruments like shakers and cabasas. She anticipates the new equipment will arrive within a few weeks.
The new equipment, coupled with the school’s existing instruments, gives Hamlet a good base for its music program moving forward, she says.
“To be a true music program, not a music appreciation program where you watch videos or listen to music, you need to make music,” she adds. “And in order to make music, you need instruments.”