From the Chair
« returnFebruary 25, 2006
When Director of Education Jean Hanson made a commitment to rejuvenate the music programs in Rainbow Schools, she met with Ralph to pull together a group of dedicated elementary and secondary music teachers to get the ball rolling. The newly formed Arts Education Task Force began by researching best practices related to music education in Ontario and across Canada.
Teachers responsible for classroom music, both generalists and specialists, were asked to provide input on how music education could be enhanced in their schools. With additional input from elementary school principals, Task Force members developed an action plan to improve student learning in and through the arts, with a preliminary focus on music education.
The Rainbow District School Board adopted many of the recommendations in the Arts Education Task Force report and Ralph McIntosh was appointed half-time Arts Education Coordinator to oversee the implementation.
In his capacity as Arts Education Coordinator, Ralph is leading curriculum, instruction, and assessment initiatives; facilitating and presenting workshops; organizing and overseeing special events related to music and the arts; and coordinating other arts-related activities and projects on behalf of the Board.
The result? Rainbow Schools are alive with the sound of music.
Six itinerant music teachers have been traveling to elementary schools throughout Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin to share their love for and knowledge of music with students and staff. This is just one of many initiatives building capacity for the delivery of music programs in Rainbow Schools.
Teachers are also participating in interactive music workshops, learning how to introduce boomwhackers, recorders and rhythm instruments into the curriculum. They are not only gaining techniques in the delivery of music education, they are being provided with many new curriculum resources to use in their classrooms.
For instance, "Musicplay" teacher guides and student books were purchased for Kindergarten to Grade 6. French Immersion programs have received French grade-appropriate materials. Percussion instruments and hand chimes have been purchased for use on a rotating basis throughout Rainbow Schools.
Important audio equipment for every school includes a small CD sound system and a portable electronic keyboard. All schools now have class sets of rhythm instruments, recorder books, and music appreciation resources such as listening programs, CDs and instructional videos. All of these materials are stored on a rolling music cart that can be moved easily from classroom to classroom.
Many new instruments were provided for Grade 7 and 8 band programs. Several band programs that were discontinued have since been reestablished. A new intermediate band program was introduced at A. B. Ellis Public School in Espanola, guitars have been purchased for several elementary programs, and additional music teachers have been hired from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Additional funding has been provided to secondary schools to upgrade their music technology hardware. This will ensure that high school music students have access to the equipment they need to become more skilled at using sound production equipment, digital recording programs and music editing software.
The Arts Task Force’s primary goal is to provide every child in the Rainbow District School Board with sustained opportunities to increase their musical literacy and develop their creative and critical thinking skills by engaging them in activities that lead them to learn in, about and through music.
“Musical literacy is the ability to read, write, create and perform music, as well as analyze, interpret and appreciate music from a variety of cultures and historical periods,” says Ralph McIntosh.
“Music is a universal language that everyone can learn,” he adds. “Research shows that students who receive early training in music also do better in other areas of learning, such as reading, writing and math.”
Having laid a solid foundation in music education in Rainbow Schools, the Task Force is now ready to expand its scope. Watch for some exciting developments in visual arts, dance and drama as we continue to reach minds and touch hearts through the arts – the fourth “R” in education.