Charity grants are music to schools’ ears

Two Scarborough schools will each receive a $10,000 grant to update their musical programs for children who may not have had access to a musical education.

Oakridge Junior Public School and John McCrae Senior Public School will be awarded the money by MusiCounts, a charity affiliated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

“Our main goal is to keep music education alive in the classrooms for Canadian students,” MusiCounts executive director Steve Cranwell said.

The money being distributed is a part of the $560,000 in ‘Band Aid’ grants to be dispersed between 71 schools Canada-wide.

“I felt that there were some schools that did not have the time or ability to fill out the Band Aid requirements,” Cranwell said. “I’m sure there are some schools that really want the money but they just can’t get it and this grant helps.”

Oakridge Junior Public School had applied unsuccessfully in past years for the grant, and the administration is excited to finally receive the money.

“We’re a school with a very high percentage of new Canadians who don’t always have an opportunity to take music lessons because their parents are focused on integrating into Canadian society and outside music education can be expensive,” said Rita Garry, principal of Oakridge Junior Public School. “I think having exposure to music lessons and to instruments in a public school setting is sometimes the only way these children can get a start in their music education.”

Garry says music is a different way of reaching out to children who may not speak English.

At John McCrae Senior Public School, some of the instruments had been around for at least 20 years because of the cost of purchasing new instruments and repairing old ones.

“This money will continue to have an impact and will reignite the riches we have here with our music program,” principal Dave Terminesi said. “Music is another way to get kids involved in school and keep them in school. That’s important to give those kids a chance to be successful.”

The grant is about more than just providing new instruments to schools with socio-economic difficulties. For some students, Cranwell said, music can lead children away from a life of delinquency.

“There are many students in schools who are not academically inclined who need a healthy reason to come to school,” Cranwell said. “The arts allow children to find a group they feel comfortable with and interact and communicate with others.”