Hamilton Musicians Guild
As we head into year end, activity at the Local office has picked up considerably. Members are taking advantage of the early bird offer in unprecedented numbers saving themselves $10 off annual dues and not having to worry about paying dues in the New Year when all the bills come due.
The other focus of our attention is preparation for the annual Canadian Conference to be held for the first time in Hamilton in thirty years on Aug 11,12th, 2017. This coincides with the 150th anniversary of Ontario and Canada so there’s an added extra significance to this years’ conference.
There will be close to 100 delegates and guests from all the Canadian Locals and representatives from the AFM executive board attending as well and it’s an opportunity to put our best foot forward to show how we’ve progressed in the last four years. Held at the Sheraton Hotel this will be a convenient way for our members to see firsthand the process of how the CFM is governed. We urge our members to take some time to observe the proceedings.
Another piece of good news is that Local 293 will be featured in the December issue of The International Musician in an article entitled “Hamilton Local Doubles its Membership”. The article talks about the turnaround in membership and some of the achievements your board has accomplished in the past four years. We have posted the highest gains throughout the U.S. and Canada and we discuss some of the projects we’ve undertaken to restore the Local’s reputation and viability as the professional organization for musicians. Some key concepts we emphasized in the article were that collectivism was essential for the growth of a local and community activism was a vital component of any strategy aimed at advancing the interests of musicians. It goes without saying that without a committed board that actively pursues this agenda little would be accomplished. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the fine work and dedication of this board.
As 2016 draws to a close, and some might say thankfully, we look forward to making greater strides in the New Year. This issue of the Libretto is one of our best so take the time to read the many fine articles.
Of particular interest is the Streetbeat article on the fine guitarist David Van Duzen. David unfortunately lost an arm in a tragic automobile accident this past summer. When Secretary-Treasurer Brent Malseed heard of his misfortune he started the wheels in motion with Local 149 (Toronto Musicians’ Association) to get him some help. As a result David received some financial assistance from the benevolent fund of Local 149 and will receive some funds from AIL insurance and the Lester Petrillo Fund. Kudos to Brent for going the extra mile in helping a former member get the help he needed. David wrote to thank us “I am overwhelmed by the compassion I am receiving from my fellow players and I’m so glad I stayed in the union as it feels so good being part of such a worthwhile organization.” To me, this the essence of what it means to be a member of this union.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year……
On April 11,1903 the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada granted a Certificate of Affiliation to the Musicians Protective Union, Local No. 293, AFM of Hamilton, Ontario. Members of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band were instrumental in the formation of Local 293. The first President of the Hamilton Musicians’ Protective Association was Lt. George R Robinson (photo below) from the 13th Regimental Band. Our name was official changed in 1960 to the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild.
A short history of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band
The Regimental Band was first formed in 1866 by Peter Grossman as the 13th Battalion Band at the request of the Commanding Officer of the 13th Battalion Voluntary Militia. It traces its roots to the Hamilton Artillery Band formed in Hamilton in 1855. It is the oldest enlisted band in Canada. Peter Grossman led the 13th Band until 1869. He was succeeded for one year by George R. Robinson who in turn was succeeded for one year by Mr. W. Blanchard. Robinson returned in 1871 and remained Bandmaster until 1916, conducting the Band for 45 years. George R. Robinson (1840-1917) took over as bandmaster of the lacklustre 13th Battalion (RHLI) military band at a difficult time. Its finances were short, instruments worn and performances forgettable. But through his musical skill, disciplined practice and promotional prowess, Robinson built up a military band that was toasted across Canada and the U.S. Robinson was one of Hamilton’s most famous musicians of his day. He is credited with taking a group of misdirected horn blowers and turning them into a tightly disciplined, 40 person unit that became a source of pride in Hamilton and renowned in military band circles across the continent. His band today is a frequent sight at parades and regularly travels around the continent and to Europe. The band shell at Gage Park was named in Robinson’s honour. Robinson’s son William served as bandmaster from 1916 to 1924 and again from 1936 to 1939.
After a hiatus of several years without a military band (when the RHLI got by with a bugle corps rather than a full band) the regiment ensemble reformed in 1992 under the direction of Maj. Michael Rehill. The RHLI Band continues today under the direction of Lt. Ryan Baker. For more information you can visit their website at http://www.rhliband.ca/
A short history of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1884 as The Hamilton Orchestral Society and grew to become one of Canada’s major professional orchestras. Today, the HPO is a leader in Hamilton’s robust arts community where it provides professional orchestral services and music education programs to address the needs of the community. The HPO continues to commission and premiere works and is one of the artistic jewels of the Hamilton area. The combined musical talents of its artists continue to enrich the community and enhance the quality of life for its residents. More information at http://hpo.org/
Janna and I attended an HPO Concert at Hamilton Place on Novermber 12, 2016. The concert featured the following guests – Lucas Waldin, Conductor, Michael Vanhevel, Vocalist, The Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry with vocalist Corporal Erin Wideman from the RHLI Band. It was a thrill to see our son, Master Corporal Adam Malseed, who has been with the RHLI Band for many years, perform with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the response of the orchestra with conductor Lucas Waldin. He is a dynamic and versatile conductor with a blooming international career who is currently Artist-In-Residence and Community Ambassador with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The arrangements of the standard swing music was fabulous and all the musicians with the HPO and RHLI Band seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage. Steve McDade, Acting Principal Trumpet for the evening wowed the audience with his amazing solos. Ernie Porthouse was absolutely solid on set drums and drove the band to perfection. On the Louis Prima song “Sing, Sing, Sing” Ernie had a drum off with RHLI set drummer Corporal Jayden Beaudoin and brought the audience to a standing ovation just before intermission. Local 293 member Bil Holinaty was sitting in with the RHLI Band/HPO and performed some great saxophone solos during the evening. Tom Altobelli, the newest member of the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild was also sitting in on bass with the HPO. “A Night of Swing” left the audience a with wonderful musical memory performed by seasoned professionals.
Marsha Moffitt stepping down as Chair of the HPO’s Players’ Committee
On behalf of all the members of the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marsha Moffitt for all her years of dedication as Chair of the HPO’s Players’ Committee. In my role as Secretary-Treasurer, I have appreciated Marsha’s very honest and understanding approach to problem solving and it has been a pleasure working with her. After 16 years of service that began in 2000, Marsha Moffitt, a Hamilton Philharmonic cellist, is stepping down from her position of Chair of the HPO’s Players’ Committee. The five-member committee serves as the musicians’ representative to both the HPO management and Local 293. Marsha is being succeeded by Laura Jones.
In 2011 Marsha was awarded the Betty Webster Award, a national award presented annually by Orchestras Canada to recognize an outstanding contribution to the Canadian orchestral community. In selecting Marsha, the award committee cited her “critical role as a leader in the Philharmonic’s successful turnaround over the past decade.” As well, the committee noted Marsha’s “rare ability to advocate passionately for her professional colleagues while understanding the imperatives of organizational governance and management.”
Marsha has expressed her pride in being a member of the HPO and her appreciation of having had the opportunity to work with her colleagues. “It is an ensemble of first-rate musicians and an organization committed to the highest artistic quality and conscientious, responsible management.” She would also like to give a special thank you to Local 293 for their continued support of the HPO.
2016-2017 HPO Indie Series
Larry Feudo and I attended the kick off of the 2016-2017 HPO Indie Series on Thursday, November 24th with local Hamilton band “Black Collar Union” at the Bay City Music Hall in Hamilton. The 3 piece rock band performed alongside of the unique instrumentation of Elspeth Thomson on viola, Laura Jones on cello, Rob Wolanski on bass, Neil Spaulding on horn and David Pell on trombone. Rob Wolanski, Principal Bass with the HPO, has been instrumental in setting up the HPO Indie Series. Please check out Rob’s article on page 13 about the Indie Concert Series.
Music is our Business
Music is our Business, and, as a member, you can benefit by gathering knowledge and understanding of how your AFM/CFM membership can benefit you. You are only a click away from gaining knowledge and support in your musical career. Set up your Username and Password at the AFM.org to access the members only sections of the AFM/CFM and Hamilton Musicians’ Guild websites. Play it right & get in touch with MyAFM. It’s yours to discover. Time to get involved. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Local 293 office.
In closing, I would like to wish everyone a very safe and wonderful holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or any other religious holiday, be kind to one another and let us have peace on earth. As Frank Costanza said on “Seinfeld” in 1997, Happy Festivus to all.
Yours in solidarity,
Local 293 StreetBeat
Recently we here at Local 293 were shocked to learn that one of our former members David VanDuzen had been involved in a serious auto roll over with the devastating news that David had lost his left arm. Although of late he worked out of Toronto Local 149 he first joined the Hamilton Local when he turned professional in the early days of his career. To date it has been a long and illustrious career spanning decades and covering the globe from recording studios in Toronto, New York and Montreal to performances and concerts in Canada, the United States, Europe, Cuba, Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and Korea. In this neck of the woods he is recognized by his fans and peers as a talented and influential guitarist. Local 293 member Russ McAllister, himself a guitarist of the highest order and reputation, had this to say, “David VanDuzen is a legend in this area. He is so well rounded in his approach to music and his guitar stylings are always slick and polished. He plays with authority.”
David has said that his love of music began when, at the age of five, he became aware of the guitar work of legendary session player James Burton. Burton, well known for his work with Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and the Everly Brothers, got his start in the record business when he played the signature guitar lick on Dale Hawkins’ “Suzie Q”. Ironically it was another Hawkins, Dale’s cousin Ronnie, who would make a lasting impact on David VanDuzen’s musical career. A career that began in his home town of Grimsby when his mother saved money from her tips working as a waitress to buy her son a $95 Kent electric guitar. He immediately took to the instrument under the tutelage of early teachers and mentors Ernie Geroux and David Battler. In the mid 60’s he began performing and playing professionally with childhood chums in the Venturians, a Ventures tribute band, and The Scarlett Wizard. It was around this time that David joined the AFM through the Hamilton Local. He also recalls getting his feet wet in regards to the recording process. “Whenever the opportunity arose we would record”, he says. “If not with our personal semi-professional gear, we would book night sessions in Toronto’s better studios. It felt as if we spent half our lives in the studio; the other half doing the Northern Ontario circuit if not touring out west or down east.” As for touring, it began in earnest for David when his band Looking Glass was signed by Polydor Records and brought down to New York City to record their first album. After his stint with Looking Glass, David also recorded and toured with a number of popular Canadian bands including Truck and Seadog. Perhaps his biggest break came in 1973 when the house band he was part of at the famed Nickleodeon in Toronto became the Ronnie Hawkins Elephant Band. “I have to admit,” confesses David, “Ronnie Hawkins has been the biggest influence in my musical career. Through him I had the opportunity to perform with the likes of Frank Zappa, Gordon Lightfoot, Rita Coolidge and David Clayton Thomas to name a few.” Aside from his 70’s stint with Hawkins, David reunited with the Hawk in 1992, in time to be part of a legendary New Years’ Eve concert at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
In the interim between Ronnie Hawkins bands David also set off on a new career path when he returned to college and landed a job with the IMAX company – a job that took him around the world, this time with a different branch of the entertainment industry – film. He kept his guitar chops active during this period by performing and playing private parties while tending to his IMAX duties. One day it might be an impromptu concert in Rwanda, the next jamming with J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Trek. The world over it seems music fans recognize David’s extraordinary guitar talent. In the Hamilton – Toronto – Niagara area his unique approach has influenced many up and coming players. When asked to elaborate on the secret of his success David says a guitar part should “enhance the message and emotion that the song is based on. In other words, if you are telling a story, the guitar should be another mode of transportation to take you to a pre-determined destination. I suppose I sing the notes in my head before transposing them to my fingertips. Perhaps that’s why I’m so in tune with my guitar. Actually that’s how I figured the ‘big boys’ did it.”, he modestly adds. It all seems so simple and yet it represents a lifetime of study and practice. We shouldn’t forget to mention that, aside from singing guitar lines in his head, David is also an accomplished singer who at times in his career has been recognized as a vocalist as much as a guitarist.
However, at this stage in his career David VanDuzen is facing one of his biggest challenges and he seems entirely up to the task. He has always brought a positive energy to his musical endeavours and now he plans to apply that kind of feeling to his healing. “I am already taking the steps to re-invent myself on the lap steel and pedal steel but I am told that my arm will not be ready for a device for at least a year and then it will take some time to hone my skills again. The thought of performing again gives me great hope and pleasure.” We might add that through Local 149 (Toronto) and Local 293 (Hamilton) David has received some much appreciated assistance in his healing process. “By the way,” he says, “I am overwhelmed by the compassion I am receiving from my fellow players so glad I stayed in the union as it feels so good being part of such a worthwhile organization.”
Finally, just as I was putting the finishing touches on this article I received this encouraging news in an email from David, “By the way, if the insurance company OK’s it we’ll be starting on my new arm as soon as next month. Hopefully I’ll be back on the lap steel sooner than I expected. I’m so excited … starting to feel like Luke Skywalker.” Also just as we approached our deadline for going to press, I received an email from one of David friends who is another illustrious guitarist to come out of Grimsby and make an indelible mark on the world of music. Bill Dillon is without a doubt one of the most recorded and imitated guitarists in the world today and he was kind enough to pass along this tribute and reminiscence of David VanDuzen. I feel it is so beautiful, heartfelt and touching that I should include it in its entirety.
“In 1967 we moved from Toronto to Grimsby. I was 15 years old, having received my first “guitar” at 13. All I’d brought with me was a $20 little Japanese token of an instrument, long hair, Beatle boots and bell bottoms and an unbridled passion to learn “Ticket To Ride”. That’s how slowly I’d progressed since seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. While the rest of the world embraced a musical and artistic explosion at a rate beyond comprehension, I found myself displaced in a little farm town seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Much to my surprise that first summer, I’d discovered a few local musicians who were on the vanguard of that wave of creativity and ability, delving deeply into Hendrix, Cream and Clapton and the rest while I was still learning how to tune a guitar. The undisputed epitome of cool and an amazing guitarist in Grimsby at the time was Dave VanDuzen, whom I’d been fortunate enough to meet early on, mesmerized by his ability, sound, taste and creativity on guitar, sense of humour and popularity. David was my first, in person, actual guitar hero and having the opportunity to spend a little time with him, sporadic as it was, inspired me in more ways than I can express. Musicians are a finicky and complicated breed. One little accolade can send an ego spiralling into spheres of self importance beyond redemption, yet Dave Vanduzen, with his love of life and sense of humour and spirit of giving never ignored what you had to say, always listened and was never condescending and was always more than happy to show me how he played something despite my inabilities to comprehend. That kind of depth of character is rare. That kind of person in this world is a gift. Had it not been for David in my life, I’m certain I’d have lived it as aimlessly as it began, thank you my friend for shining your light in a mysterious future.”
– Bill Dillon ( Member of Local 293)
Thanks to Bill for those marvellous words and we all join together in wishing David VanDuzen all the best on his road to recovery.
Regards, Paul Panchezak, Sergeant-at-Arms
HPO Indie Series
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Indie Series brings our region’s local emerging Rock/Pop artists and professional orchestra together for a collaborative, cross-genre approach to music-making, relevant and unique to Hamilton. The Indie Series was officially launched in June of 2015 with a collaboration between the HPO and local electronic band, Illitry, but the orchestra had previously collaborated with beatboxer, Hachey The Mouthpiece and Thought Beneath Film at Supercrawl in the years 2013 and 2014 respectively. Since the official launch of the series we have collaborated with Illitry, The Redhill Valleys, The Medicine Hat and most recently, Black Collar Union.
In the past, collaborations between orchestras and pop artists typically involved orchestral players simply augmenting the pre-existing songs of the pop artist. What is unique about our Indie Series is that we work with the artists to reimagine their own music, often completely re-orchestrating their own material in new ways. On the flip side, the pop artists join the orchestral musicians (usually an ensemble of around 5 players from the orchestra) in reworking piecs from the Classical repertoire. Usually the evening’s program is an even mix of the band’s material and reworked Classical repertoire. In collaboration with these artists we’ve reworked material by Holst, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Bruckner, to name a few.
In the two pilot projects before the official launch of the Indie Series, musical arrangements were done entirely within the group of musicians of the collaboration. For example, with Thought Beneath Film (now known as Liteyears), the band’s leader, Brent Wirth and I shared the arranging duties. Since the Illitry collaboration in June of 2015, local composer, Christien Ledroit has been the arranger on all subsequent projects.
As the Artistic Lead of this project, along with arranger Chris Ledroit, we scout and interview potential band/artists that we believe might be a good fit for the project. Once a group is selected, early meetings include selecting which band songs might be good for the project as well as brainstorming ideas for Classical repertoire that would work well to match the personality of the band’s material. Since we only use 5 players from the orchestra on each of these shows, we also need to decide which orchestral instruments will be used. We typically wind up with interesting combinations – for example, The Medicine Hat concert involved flute, bassoon, cello, double bass and harp in addition to a fairly typical Rock band instrumentation.
One of the main aims of the series is to bring the HPO into venues around the city where one would not expect to hear our players. So far we have performed at The Baltimore House, Park Street Gasworks, Mill’s Hardware, The Spice Factory and The Bay City Music Hall. Audience response has been outstanding, with almost every Indie Series show being sold out. Patrons are a good mix between regular HPO audience members and fans of the featured band. The performances have proven to be so popular that we have been asked to reprise some of these shows at the annual Supercawl festival bringing these collaborations to a much wider audience. The HPO/Illitry show was reprised at Supercrawl 2015 and the HPO/Medicine Hat show was reprised at Supercrawl 2016.
Through support from TD, we are excited to continue this unique program in the coming season.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Monday, December 05, 2016
The Admiral Inn
(York & Dundurn Streets, Hamilton)
2016 OCSM Conference Report
By Elspeth Thomson, Delegate, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
Here are some of the highlights from the 2016 OCSM Conference in Calgary, Alberta. Jazz pianist and retired Senator Tommy Banks gave a keynote address on lobbying of provincial and federal governments, and within the AFM. He argued the arts sector needs a unified presence before legislators, which was lost when the Canadian Conference for the Arts dissolved; and that AFM media policies could better reflect the interests of its broader membership.
Airline policy: The CFM is working to harmonize Canadian regulations with those of the US FAA. Int. Rep. Allistair Elliott updated OCSM on this effort, providing a sample letter for orchestras, player associations, and other organizations to endorse and support reasonable measures for consistent, safe regulations for carryon and checked musical instruments.
Canada Council: Previously Dir. of the Music Section, Aimé Dontigny discussed how Canada Council is abolishing such fiefdoms, creating a more diverse and fluid vision for federal arts funding, while aiming to show that significantly increased arts funding can bring significant, tangible benefits nationwide, and elevate Canada’s place on the world stage.
Orchestras Matter: Orchestras Canada Exec. Director, Katherine Carleton reported on her wide ranging activities, including a public awareness campaign through the websites orchestrasmatter.ca and lesorchestrescomptent.ca .
“Musicians of” websites: The Advocacy Committee challenged all OCSM orchestras to develop website and social media presences, offering guidelines and recommendations for how to manage, maintain, produce relevant content, and cooperate with our organizations.
OCSM President Robert Fraser addressed Delegates on how orchestras can and do make our cities and communities better, safer, and more attractive.
French services: AFM President Ray Hair and VPC Alan Willaert discussed how the AFM and CFM are working with Local 406 (Quebec) to translate key documents and support the added costs of serving a bilingual membership.
Social media: Legal counsel Michael Wright spoke on the risks inherent in electronic communications, including email and social media. While certain labour actions may be protected, privacy is rarely certain, consequences can be profound, and free speech is not a defence for negative and inappropriate comments relating to employers.
Wage charts: Communications Coordinator Laurence Hoffman demonstrated new tools for collecting and presenting key data, now available in a password protected section of the AFM website: wagechart.afm.org .
The media committee reported that preparatory work continues on a comprehensive symphonic media agreement, which the CFM plans to negotiate with a multi-employer group.
There was a talk about negotiating given by legal counsel Michael Wright, who addressed the basis for including extras in preparing for, negotiating, and ratifying symphonic agreements, as well as how this may play out in practice.
AFM President Ray Hair spoke on the strengths of pattern bargaining, which pressures multiple employers to match and exceed fair standards for quality wages and benefits; and the perils of being “pattern bargained in reverse”, when managers are able to isolate employee groups and undercut standards achieved elsewhere.
CSOM Chair Bruce Ridge and ROPA President Carla Lehmeier-Tatum were warmly thanked for their stellar contributions and friendship to Canadian musicians. Their terms of office ended this summer.
On the Road with the Andre Bisson Band
This year we traveled across Canada and our 6th tour in the UK. Touring can be a great experience and it can also be very difficult for many reasons. While on the road you will be likely on your phone sending emails back and forth for future engagements or working on the next tour. Between our group and countless others we’ve encountered, we’ve heard a lot of interesting stories about what it was like on the road. However, the stories of the road are not what touring is all about, there is a purpose. It’s to gain more music lovers in your community and to bring your music to those who have supported you nationally/internationally via social networking sites and those that heard you on the radio and purchased your music.
Touring is also a very large investment when you are getting started.I heard a very talented world renowned violinist perform in concert this past fall, while thanking the audience; he talked briefly about how this tour was a birthday present to himself. Even with a grant he might have received to pursue this tour, he was likely investing still along the way, either for promotion, travel, accommodations, or time off of a regular job. Luckily, they just have a two piece ensemble. With a group of 5-6 musicians to take care of and no grant, this can be a much larger stress on building a tour. Where does the funding come from? Saving pay from gigs/work and living as humbly as possible. We have always been up for the challenge, because we really enjoy the process. On a daily basis, it’s a joy to look forward to our next touring season and performing for as many people as we can. In February 2017, we head to Memphis to compete at the International Blues Competition for the Grand River Blues Society alongside of many great performers from all over the world.
Be an Advocate for Music in the Schools
I started taking guitar lessons at the beginning of grade eight, I had been listening to my older brother’s Beatle records for some time and all I wanted to do was learn some of their songs. My first guitar teacher was great, he gave me a solid foundation in the basics that allowed me to tackle some Lennon and McCartney. However he left the studio I attended and the new teacher I had didn’t impress me so I quit. That would have been the end of my music career had it not been for me checking “Instrumental Music” on the high school application form that came out later that year. Music was the coolest of all the course options even though I knew we wouldn’t be playing a lot of Beatle music. When it came to selecting an instrument I skipped over the brass and woodwinds and picked the closest thing to a guitar, the Double Bass. I loved the class and eventually joined the Concert Band, Jazz Band and even Choir. It was the music program at high school where my music education really began. I learned an instrument, theory, music history, rehearsal skills and those other benefits that music brings like discipline, focus, social skills and team work. For me the music program at my high school expanded my awareness and appreciation of music beyond Rock and Roll. It inspired me to be a musician and I went on to study music at College and University and into a career as a high school music teacher.
I recently retired and looking back over the course of my career I can proudly say that several of my students have pursued careers in music. It is rewarding to see former students perform professionally and succeed in music. Some are members of our Guild and I’ve even had the opportunity to play gigs with a few. However those students are a tiny fraction of the thousands of students I have taught over my 29 year career. Some have become music hobbyists but the vast majority will probably never pick up an instrument again. Given that low percentage and the challenges succeeding in the music industry many school board administrators, critics and politicians are convinced music programs are inefficient and a waste of public money. I have had superintendents comment that if a parent wants their kid to learn music they should pay for private lessons, why do it in school? Because career prospects are few guidance counsellors often discourage students from pursuing post-secondary music or taking music courses. They will persuade the student to take more “practical” courses. At the board level Music and Arts in general are often the first to go on the chopping block. Most high schools have one or two music teachers, working alone, trying to make their classes exciting and relevant for their students. Meanwhile they are often having to fight off forces that are out to challenge their existence. This was the situation throughout my career, I had to constantly fight for funds and justify my music program. Behind every successful music program there is a committed and energetic music teacher however all their efforts can be for naught from a single administrator’s decision.
Every music teacher’s hope and a primary goal of public school music education is to develop a lifelong interest in and love of music. It is not to produce professional musicians, although that is a very positive by-product. Music in the schools creates a bigger and more appreciative audience, something all of us as musicians want and need to have. Every student I have ever taught has had the experience of music making. If your audience has actively participated in music making they will have a deeper appreciation and respect for what you do. One sad fact is that this generation is not as exposed to live music as in the past, the school band might be their first exposure to live music. The digital age has made music so easy to produce and obtain that young people take music and musicianship for granted. Music has in many ways been devalued producing a smaller and less appreciative audience. When a music program dies the school continues, kids still get an education, many people may not even notice. But the loss will be felt beyond the school, eventually it will affect society and our culture. We will begin to lose our audience. There will still be musicians, those naturally talented and motivated people who have the financial means and opportunity to study privately. But who will they play for? It behooves all professional musicians to advocate and support music in the schools. When you hear about programs being cut, find out who your school board trustee is and let them know where you stand. That lonely music teacher needs your support. Volunteer in the local music class or do a workshop, I know any music teacher would welcome you. Attend the annual spring or winter concert at your local high school, these concerts help fund the program.
Visit the website for The Coalition for Music Education at: http://www.musicmakesus.ca/
Submitted by Ron Palangio