With some of their instruments as old as the 51-year-old McNicoll Park Middle School itself, a $5,000 grant won by the music department was a much appreciated gift.
“Our inventory of instruments right now has instruments that date back to when the school opened,” said Paula Baker, the school’s music teacher. “They have been serviced every year and well maintained but they are getting old. A lot of kids have learned to play on our instruments.”
Helping keep music alive from coast to coast with over $1 million in grants and scholarships awarded this year, MusicCounts gave the Penticton school $5,000. The Canadian music education charity associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Canadian Country Music Association has a mission to ensure that children in Canada, regardless of socio-economic circumstances or cultural background, have access to music programs through their schools. With assistance from sponsors MusicCounts announced in September they would be accepting applications for Band Aid Grants.
Baker said in her 13 years with the school, they have only been able to buy a handful of new instruments and the kids rely on the school rentals.
“it keeps getting more and more expensive for parents to buy or rent the instruments for their kids outside of the school,” said Baker, adding she didn’t know how some of the old instruments were staying together. “We just really appreciated and want to thank MusiCounts for what they have done.”
McNicoll used the money to purchase an alto, tenor, two clarinets, two flutes and two trumpets. Grade 7 student Keiji Kita is learning to play the clarinet and said the difference from the one he use to play to the new one is like night and day.
“It just is easier for me now to learn on this new clarinet. It is easier to play because the older one seemed a bit stiff and didn’t play properly some of the time,” he said.
The school band is looking forward to using the instruments at three concerts on June 10 at Columbia, Uplands and Naramata elementary schools.
MusiCounts donated over $140,000 in grants and scholarship in B.C. alone this year. Other schools that received money in the Okanagan were École KLO Middle School in Kelowna with $10,000, Glenrose Middle School in West Kelowna with $10,000 and W.L. Seaton Secondary School in Vernon with $10,000.