2nd annual esme festival

Dear Music Colleagues,

esme (expanding success in music education) in partnership with the tdsb is pleased to invite you to participate in our second annual non-competitive music festival. Last year was a blast and we hope to continue the fun as well as add a few things (set of evening performances for small groups, jam rooms, etc.)

This event, which will be held at C.W. Jefferys C.I. (TDSB) on Thursday, February 26th, 2015, is open to all school boards and all varieties of musical ensembles. We are excited to add an evening option for small groups which will take place at The Tranzac (292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto) on February 27th.

Often, in order to engage all of our students we find ourselves teaching classes or running extra-curricular groups with very non-traditional instrumentation, structure, or repertoire, which can make it difficult to find performance opportunities for our students. It is our hope that this festival will give your school a chance to showcase different groupings and/or styles of musical programming, including, but certainly not limited to, rock band, improvisation, hip-hop, DJ-ing, composition/arranging, sound exploration, rap, and unique instrumentation.

Participating in this festival, students will have a chance to perform for their peers, hear other student music, and receive meaningful feedback in a very relaxed and supportive environment. Following performances, students will take part in interactive workshops with guest artists. Already confirmed for this event is musician Dave Clark (Woodshed Orchestra, Gord Downie, Rheostatics).

Below is a tentative look at the schedule for the day (26th):
8:30-9:30am        Check in/set-up
9:30-11:30am       Morning Session
11:30-12:30pm     Lunch Break (students should pack a lunch for this day)
12:30-2:30pm      Afternoon Session
And for the evening (27th): 7pm doors, and 8pm performances start

Finally, we would also like to keep this festival very student focused. For this reason, we ask that each ensemble assign a student mc to introduce/speak on behalf of their group.

Thank you for your interest and support. If you have any questions, please email douglas.friesen@tdsb.on.ca or kayla.garrett@tdsb.on.ca.




I think I’ve heard this enough now…

“Is this all you do?”
“You teach the students to actually read music right?”

I’m having trouble understanding why creative, open ended composition and improvisation are equated with students not learning to read or build technique with their voices or instruments.
What if I asked the same questions to others who are not doing much or any composing or creative work.  “Is teaching to read and build technique all you do?”
I am becoming curious what would happen if a music class or department decided to focus only on creative work: how music education can be a way to hear and interact with our surroundings, taking into account that each of our creative perception is unique and valid and that beauty can exist in the sounds around us, we are the composers of our soundscape and responsible for how it may or may not effect us.
What will happen if students just composed and improvised pieces for special occasions and locations around their school, to match their emotions or the feelings they want to have?
Really, let’s play it out.
For one, students may not learn to read notation, what will this mean?  No more music schools as we know them?  (How many of our students go on to post secondary music study?)  How might new post secondary music study look?
Would there eventually be no more orchestras as we know them?  Do public schools create orchestra players or do privilege, class, and cultural background do this?  Do we just teach music because we were taught music (and teach it in that same fashion)?  Is there not more to it?
And, what if there were no more orchestras?  What would change?

Does music put food on the table?  What does it do?

My creative idea for the classroom this week is for a challenge for us as music educators to continue to think about what it is we want music education to offer students who might not go on to study music.  What do we believe music offers to them and us?  What might a definition of music, larger than our current one include?  What might our current one exclude?
I truly do not wish to lose orchestras but I would like to suggest that music education is much bigger than that issue.  I feel that if we do not believe this we will fall to even more cuts.  It would seem that we can no longer afford to give specialized technical training to all to benefit the few that might use it.