Well, here we are in the first day of May — the first day after Music Month in Manitoba. I'd be remiss if I were not to include an acknowledgement somewhere here in Happenings on the Scene.
The truth of the matter is, I believe every day should have some form of music in it for everyone. Therefore, I declare every day of every week of every month be dedicated to music. Doesn't matter what style of music you enjoy or what particular instrument you may make music with, it all counts.
While Music Month was a Manitoba celebration, Music Monday on May 5 is celebrated nationwide. On this day, representatives from the worlds of music, science, business, sports, politics, and comedy will lift their voices and speak out in support of the countless benefits of strong music programs in schools.
Launched in 2005, Music Monday is the world’s largest single event dedicated to raising awareness for music education. Each year, hundreds of thousands of students, educators, and music makers participate in a simultaneous nationwide concert performance of an original song written by a Canadian artist.
In 2013, Music Monday extended its reach into space with I.S.S. ("Is Somebody Singing"), co-written by former Canadian Space Agency astronaut and musician Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson, and commissioned by CBCMusic.ca and The Coalition for Music Education.
Music Monday is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. So far, 86 schools in Manitoba have registered their Music Monday events, with more than 19,000 students and adults anticipated to take part.
Among the western Manitoba communities participating are Boissevain, Brandon, Dauphin, Forrest, Killarney, Neepawa, Reston, Russell, Shilo, Souris and Wawanesa.
As of press time, Brandon had a mere four schools with events planned in conjunction with Music Monday. Meadows, École Harrison, Valleyview and Earl Oxford schools have pre-registered their events through Musicmonday.ca.
While that seems surprisingly low for the Wheat City, I have a feeling the number of students participating will increase significantly come Monday.
According to Earl Oxford teacher and Music Monday coalition board member Janine Waines, it will be easy for classrooms and schools alike to participate.
"Music Monday events don’t have to be big events," she said. "They could be something as simple as sitting in your classroom and turning on your smart board with a speaker and watching the performance and pulling up the lyrics to the song, which are also on the Music Monday website, and singing along to the song at the end of that one-hour broadcast.
"It’s going to be very incredible to have that coast-to-coast connection."
The connection she is referring to is how the event will culminate. The day will conclude with a synchronized countrywide performance of I.S.S. ("Is Somebody Singing") with former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, led by maestro Bramwell Tovey of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The live webcast will air at noon on Monday and can be accessed at musicmonday.ca.
Waines would like to see Music Monday become an even bigger event for all members of the general public to enjoy.
"I envision a live performance event with various performers playing music over lunch hour and have members of the community come out and sit and listen to music and enjoy maybe a barbecued lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers under a big tent," she said.
It has been well documented through continued studies that music education is a valuable tool for kids to utilize for learning comprehension. Waines is not only a huge proponent of that but a firm believer in the power of music on many levels.
"Absolutely! There are studies that indicate that music is one of the only activities that simultaneously connects the right brain and the left brain," she said.
"But the most important thing I believe with music is, it’s something that everyone is surrounded by every day. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, there’s music. To imagine a life without music in it, to me is a very plain and very boring existence.
"Music is so important to help students to express themselves in a way that they may not be able to express themselves academically or physically or in other area of their life."
For Waines, music matters not just this coming Monday but all the time.
"I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t think arts education was vitally critical to every student," she said. "There’s so much that kids can get out of arts education that they can’t get out of other things and Music Monday is a chance to stand up and shout it from the rooftops."
Meanwhile, the largest Music Monday event in Winnipeg will take place at the grand staircase in the Manitoba legislature between noon and 1 p.m. CST.
It will feature performances by five school groups pre-selected to perform in this special concert designed to wrap up Music Month here in Manitoba and also to celebrate Music Monday.
And one young schoolgirl from Ecole Dieppe in Winnipeg’s Pembina Trails School Division will have a particularly exciting day. Andrea won a nationwide contest for a student to live Skype chat with Chris Hadfield in the gymnasium of her school following its Music Monday event.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.