After-school music program comes to St. Albert
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
An Edmonton-based new music enrichment program is expanding into St. Albert. Now all it needs is students.
The Edmonton String Players Association (ESPA) has approached seven schools in St. Albert to potentially host an after-school music enrichment program for violin, viola, cello and bass.
The schools approached to spread the word are École Marie Poburan, École Secondaire St. Marguerite D’Youville, Neil M. Ross, Albert Lacombe, Father Jan, Richard Fowler and Vital Grandin.
The ESPA offers 75-minute classes in St. Albert and an additional four levels of orchestra classes at Victoria School of the Arts. After completing a beginner class, students are encouraged to join an orchestra to further develop their skills.
Individual attention is an important aspect of the program with six to 12 students per class.
For Carolyn Dagenais, a parent-volunteer for ESPA, the program has multiple benefits.
“Music is wonderful for intellectual stimulation and it’s challenging. It teaches kids to focus and concentrate. It teaches them to get their scholastic ability up,” says Dagenais, a bass player now learning the cello.
The St. Albert resident also points out that studying music and advancing to the orchestra level teaches important life lessons.
“It offers a greater future for kids to be part of something that is greater than themselves. In the orchestra, students can see how everyone plays their part and can make something greater than when they play on their own. That’s a great societal lesson.”
Up until June 2013, the music enrichment program was offered through the Edmonton Public School at a cost of between $220,000 and $400,000 depending on how the numbers were added up.
The Edmonton String Players Association, a parent operated registered charity, fundraised for the program purchasing instruments, music stands, sheet music and every three-years ESPA booked a tour to Europe for the Singing Strings, the elite level orchestra.
Due to budget cuts, the public board chopped the program. Realizing the need for an affordable, quality program instructed by classically trained musicians, ESPA parent volunteers took over the project.
They spent the summer reorganizing and expanding the program’s reach by developing a new model.
“We’re looking at grant writing and we’ve had various successes in looking for community partners,” notes Dagenais.
Colin Loiselle, vice-principal at Vital Grandin said that the school is quite excited about the new venture.
“Anything that will attract people to the school is a great thing. With our Learning Through the Arts and our strong music program, it’s a great addition to get our name out in the community.”
Group string lessons range from $320 to $360 per year. Additional orchestra lessons are from $130 to $170 per year. Orchestra-only students are charged $360.
Registration deadline is Sunday, Sept. 15.
“We understand that this may be frustrating for parents who are attempting to co-ordinate a number of different extra-curricular activities, but if any parent is unsatisfied with the class for any reason, they have until Oct. 31 to apply for a refund.”
Each of the host schools has received pamphlets and additional information is available online at www.musicenrichment.org.