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LETTER: Benefits of music programs outweigh the costs

As a grandparent with a child soon to be in SD 61, I have been following recent music program cuts in Victoria. I am pleased that at least band is restored. And as a former district music supervisor in Prince George; program director of the Kennedy Center’s National online Arts Education website, ArtsEdge.com; former B.C. fine arts and music curriculum developer, and as a current professional violinist and strings teacher, I understand that it must have been a difficult decision to cut Grade 5 Strings. Issues of equity are real. While I do believe it would have been better to make the program universal at the elementary level, I can see the reasoning for the cuts.

However, I cannot understand why cuts have been made to middle school choral and strings, two programs already equitable, inclusive, and supported by the development and ongoing stewardship of resources required to support these programs through the amazing resource Victoria teachers have created at the Cooper Smith Music Library Collection (CSMLC).

I have viewed the library twice in Victoria when visiting my children. This is a resource of which Victoria should be proud.

Viewing the CSMLC resource online today, I was horrified that 298 half and three-quarter size violins and cellos, all donated at no cost to the district, and only useful to children in the middle school age group, would not be used in the upcoming school year. Middle school strings programs offer a first opportunity to children to play a string instrument, valued by families of many cultures and available at either minimal or no cost to families, and is both an equitable opportunity and major resource allowing delivery of this program to all middle schools regardless of the economic status of families.

Please continue your support of choral and string programs in Victoria schools. Over and over again it has been proven: the benefits far outweigh the costs of such programs.

J. Kit Eakle, former music teacher

Vancouver