Dear Ms Fraser and Ms Chan-Pedley,
I am a parent at Jamieson Elementary. I am deeply concerned about the Strings Program and the potential demise of an acclaimed music program.
Jamieson is proud to have an award-winning Advanced Strings extracurricular program, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our music teacher, students and parents. Other schools in the Vancouver district have been forced to lose similar programs. We need your help to prevent Jamieson from undergoing the same fate.
Our teacher is passionate about instilling the joy of music to students. He has supported the advanced strings groups by giving hundreds of hours of his own time, totaling an astounding 300 volunteers hours a year. The students respond by auditioning and rehearsing whenever and wherever possible, including before and after school, at recess and lunch. They are passionate and fully engaged to be a part of the program.
However, for the first time in 17 years, our teacher has reluctantly reduced his volunteer time to 50 hours a year. He has done everything humanly possible to maintain the program but his dedication alone is not sufficient to keep afloat a program running on empty.
Why do we care?
- Jamieson is home to Canada’s largest school string orchestra program.
- Students join the program in Grade 4, many having never played a string instrument.
- At Grade 7, they will have learned to play over 100 pieces of music and performed in more than a dozen concerts, equipped with advanced musicianship skills far beyond their age.
The program embodies education excellence at its best. For 20 years It has had a positive impact on the lives of students. Its reputation draws families to our school from near and afar. Jamieson graduates are welcomed at Lord Byng and Magee secondary’s acclaimed music schools. We should be celebrating its success instead of staving off its demise.
- The short-term result: no auditions, reduced number of advanced orchestra spots, and much less rehearsal time.
- The long-term loss:
- Putting at risk a program that exemplifies student success. Continued neglect from the VSB will undermine a program that would be irreplaceable once gone.
- Secondary schools – already adversely impacted by budget cuts – will continue to see their own orchestras diminish as they struggle to recruit young musicians.
- When educators and parents are concerned about the social and mental well-being of students and children are criticized for having too much screen time, the loss of a well-established music program is counter-productive to address these concerns.
The Advanced Strings program is an extraordinary group which calls for an extraordinary solution. These strings orchestras will disappear without urgent intervention from the VSB. What do we need? Support our advanced orchestras. Advocate for music education excellence at Jamieson and all VSB schools. Restore funding for music programs.
Scott MacDonald, Deputy Minister of Education
Suzanne Hoffman, Superintendent, Vancouver School Board
Natasha Miladinovic, Principal, Dr Annie B Jamieson Elementary