Canada’s music education charity, MusiCounts, announced that $1 million worth of instruments, equipment, and resources, will be divided between 95 schools across Canada through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program. The MusiCounts Band Aid Program grants up to $15,000 for high-need schools to furnish or refurbish their music programming. Sixty-five per cent of the schools that applied for the MusiCounts Band Aid Program reported an annual budget of $500 or less for music education at their school. With this in mind, the new instruments and gear these schools will receive through the Band Aid Program are once-in-a-generation opportunities.
MusiCounts also announced an exciting partnership with TikTok Canada, who will be supporting secondary schools through the MusiCounts Band Aid program and MusiCounts Learn Kanata resource. TikTok will be donating a portion of funds to buy instruments for high schools across the country, and tips for teaching with TikTok will be integrated into the Kanata resource. The guide, a product of collaboration between several Indigenous educators, advisors and artists, led by Sherryl Sewepagaham, is a free resource for any educator who wishes to bring contemporary Indigenous music into the classroom.
“There are so many things to be excited about regarding the 2021 MusiCounts Band Aid Program grant recipients,” says Kristy Fletcher, Executive Director of MusiCounts. “The $1 million we are awarding will transform what music education looks like at these schools. We are so proud to be supporting new and existing music programs that represent all styles of music instruction to support young Canadians’ heritage, traditions, and interests. By collaborating with TikTok Canada, we are committing to evolving with music, technology, and young voices across the country.”
The $1 million investment will support 95 schools from coast to coast to coast, including unprecedented investments in the Territories ($173,000 to 16 schools) and the Atlantic Provinces ($218,500 to 18 schools). The MusiCounts Band Aid Program operates through an equity-based lens, and prioritizes schools that support Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) youth with culturally-specific programming. Of the recipient schools, nearly 40 per cent identified as supporting large populations of BIPOC youth.
Kitscoty School, 1 of 4 schools in the entire Buffalo Trail Division that has a music program, was able to purchase 30 guitars for their Junior High Music Class with MusiCounts Band Aid Program. Due to COVID-19 the music class is not able to use their regular classroom with their band instruments because there is not enough room to have proper spacing between students.
“The students are going to be learning how to play guitars, so that way we can get back to learning to play music. One hundred and twenty kids will once again be able to play music. We like to study music of all kinds and all types. There are many different cultures of music that we look at. The main goal at Kitscoty is to have the students develop a passion for music in general, but we are looking at incorporating more indigenous type music as well because it is one culture we should study and understand. Senior Band is still able to play their band instruments spread out in the gym as their class is before school, but they will also learn a little guitar on the side,” said Kitscoty School Music Teacher Jamie Stromberg.
With MusiCounts’ support, schools are finally able to replace old and broken instruments (some reportedly over 60 years of age), or purchase entirely new instruments to reflect the student population’s cultural identity and unique needs. The MusiCounts Band Aid Program supports all approaches to music education, and recipients in the 2021 cohort will be funding recording studios, drum-making workshops led by Indigenous Elders, and ukulele ensembles.
“We are grateful to be given the opportunity to stretch our learning in a new way and we are looking forward to keeping guitars apart of our music program here, continuing in our future even if we get to go back to our regular band instruments as well,” said Stromberg.
MusiCounts is proud to support the incredible work of teachers and educators from across Canada, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when delivering quality music education has been a unique challenge. For the full list of the 2021 MusiCounts Band Aid Program recipient schools, visit www.musicounts.ca/2021/05/05/2021-band-aid-recipients/.