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Hitting the High Notes in Music
By Lindsey House and Jada Patey, Roncalli Central High, Port Saunders, NL

When Roncalli Central High School's band was asked to perform for the grand opening of Torrent River Academy in Hawke's Bay, NL., they jumped at the idea. Present were a number of school board and government officials including District #2 Director from the Northern Peninsula/Labrador South School Board, Jesse Payne; MHA St. Barbe, Wallace Young; Minister of Education, Honorable Gerry Reid; President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association, Winston Carter; and Honorable Premier Roger Grimes. Roncalli is one of the few schools in District 2 that have a full-fledged music program. Being given an invitation to perform in front of such a prestigious audience shows just how important music is becoming in the school curriculum.

According to Mr. Jesse Payne, Roncalli's band has great talent. "We asked this group to perform for the event so they could have a chance to showcase their talents. We know that there are some excellent things done at Roncalli Central High School with the music teacher, Mr. Ryan Wiltshire. Music certainly is very important, and is a priority of our board, so when we have the Premier and the Minister of Education come to our District we like to demonstrate what our students have been doing, what they can do and what they've learned."

Music in a school's curriculum has recently become extremely important for those involved. Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Roger Grimes agrees that students who partake in this program have a great advantage. "Music is very important in a student's education. For all the students in the education system there is always a matter of what their personal preference in choice is, and for some people they may not have a particular interest in some parts of the curriculum. If they have something that they really appreciate and if it happens to be music, then having music in the school for that group of people can give them enough motivation and incentive to stick with some other things that they may not find so interesting or exciting."

Mr. Ryan Wiltshire, music teacher at Roncalli comments, "Music provides something for students to do other than regular studying and sports. It is another way to enrich school life, by teaching discipline and responsibility. Students rely on each other to know their parts."

According to NLTA President, Mr. Winston Carter, in order for there to be music programs in schools we need to have qualified music teachers but, there is a problem finding trained music educators in the province. "I think it's something we need to address. Even though there is a music department at Memorial University, we're finding right now that there is a lack of music teachers and for the most part the music teachers we do have seem to be concentrated in the urban centers as opposed to rural centers. I think that we should encourage music teachers to move into our rural areas where they're certainly needed."

Roncalli Central High school has big plans for the music program this year. Not only will they expand their instruments, but also they plan to go on a tour. "Right now we are working on a tour throughout our school district. The proposals have been submitted, we're just waiting for the results right now. We will still be performing our regular concerts at the school. We're hoping to get more instruments as well, such as: French horn, trombone and piccolo, says Mr. Wiltshire."

The government also has some plans to expand music programs in schools. Premier Grimes quotes, "What we want to do is leave extra teachers in the system. We're encouraging school boards to have music programs, art programs, physical education and activity programs as a part of the mainstream curriculum. We're certainly also encouraging music through the Department of Education, by working with groups to encourage participation in things like music festivals in different parts of the province. As well as having a specialist right at the Department of Education for the whole province that focuses on music education and can go out and work with board office personnel and teachers in the school so they can aid students in the individual schools."

Music benefits students in many ways according to Mr. Grimes. "Music allows students to express themselves and get involved in things that interest them. One of the things that they need is to have the broadest based education possible. Students that have this advantage tend to be more open-minded."

"Music presents a different way of thinking for students. It helps with developing concentration, discipline and readiness. Practicing and performing gives the student more self-confidence and assurance which they can take outside of school and use in different activities like public speaking," remarked Mr. Ryan Wiltshire.

Music is vital in all aspects of a student's life. Because it is so important it should be included in the curriculum of a larger percentage of schools, not only in our province, but in all of Canada. It provides an outlet for students to express their emotions and ideas. It maintains their interest in school life and enables them with knowledge that is very beneficial in our society.

Hitting high notes in music seems to be a good start for people in the future.


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