St. Francis launches music program

The sounds of flutes, saxophones, and drums will echo in the halls at St. Francis School here as a new musical instrument program kicks off this year.
The Northwest Catholic District School Board has acquired a set of 36 instruments to begin a band program at St. Francis.
“It will be an introduction to an instrument over three years while the children are in Grade 6 to 8,” Education Director John Madigan said last week.
Every student will have the chance to learn to play an instrument. They will learn to read music and play as a group during weekly music classes.
“They’re quite a bit excited, the school community, about having musical instruments,” Madigan remarked.
The program began when the school and school council urged the board to purchase instruments.
A class set—which includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments found in most band programs—cost the board $30,000.
But renovations to the music room, including shelves and storage for the new instruments, was covered by the school council, which raised $8,000 for the new program.
“It has been a grassroots initiative,” Madigan noted. “They see it as being an important component for the school and wanted to make it a reality.”
St. Francis principal Brendan Hyatt taught instrumental music for five years in Toronto and is eager to have such a program at his school here.
“They will learn appreciation for music, learn to play an instrument, and have an opportunity to be exposed to music early in life,” he noted.
And a music program brings more to students than merely knowledge of a particular instrument, Hyatt stressed.
“I was excited by the ways it meets the needs of the new curriculum,” he said.
“Instrumental music leads to higher level thinking skills in children. It’s an opportunity to improve student achievement, as well,” Hyatt enthused.