Money for instruments, to the tune of $8,000, is music to the ears of melody-making staff and students at a Nanaimo school.
MusiCounts, a Canadian music education charity, is providing the money to Uplands Park Elementary School through its Band Aid program, which Tamara Cameron, music teacher, says was used to purchase instruments, such as keyboards, guitars, digital drums, as well as recording equipment and microphones. There isn’t a lot of usable equipment currently, she said.
“The idea is for [students] to make their own songs and recordings,” said Cameron. “The idea is to have them with their own song-writing program. They can pick up the bass guitar and play some chords … practise, record them … The same with the guitar and keyboard, so they can start to learn a little bit of how to play. The focus is not on the mechanics of playing, but making their own compositions.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the school’s ability to make musical productions, but Cameron said the equipment will help students.
“Typically, the school does at least one production a year, and that will be great because we can start to showcase kids’ work online,” said Cameron.
The new equipment and learning methods will align with the B.C. Ministry of Education’s new curriculum that was introduced in 2019, according to Cameron.
“The learning outcomes for primary music are pretty open,” said Cameron. “It is basically understanding the elements of music theory, which is great because as they’re playing with the sounds and the loops, I can integrate that theory as they’re doing it. We can learn about chords and pitch and tempo, but it doesn’t have to be a boring dedicated lesson, it’s just integrated into what they’re doing at the time.
“There’s a lot in the outcomes about creative expression and this is perfect. They get to improvise.”