To the editor:
Did you know….?
• There are 172 plus music students in Vanderhoof?
• There are seven music teachers, not including the student teachers?
• The average music lesson is a half hour, once a week?
• The average amount of time spent in practicing an instrument is 76 hours a year for a young student and 285 hours a year for a more advanced student?
• Vanderhoof has a provincially recognized music festival, Nechako Valley Festival of the Performing Arts that annually gives students the chance to compete at the Provincial level?
• That only three students per discipline can be chosen to represent our area at the Provincials (BC Festival of the Performing Arts), usually held in southern BC each year?
• That the Festival has been in existence here in Vanderhoof for 38 years?
• That the grand piano that is used in the Small Aud at NVSS belongs to the Festival- it was fund-raised for many years ago?
• That the Festival awards scholarships annually to grads and gives bursaries to those students chosent to represent Vanderhoof at the Provincials (BCFPA)
• That the Northern Orchestra is our local orchestra, featuring local strings students together with amateur musicians from the north?
• That the Northern Orchestra performs in Vanderhoof and Prince George about three times a year?
• That we have a band program at NVSS that regularly holds Coffee House fund-raisers?
• That they placed at the Sun Peaks festival in Kelowna last year?
• That there is a high school choir?
• That there is a community children’s choir with over 20 children participating?
• That taking music lessons has proven to bond the right and left hemispheres in the brain, especially if developed before age seven, which improves language, math and logical skills?
• That many professionals, parents and other parties donate enormous amounts of volunteer hours and/or money to both music and sports to support programs that provide balanced opportunities for people in this community?
• That a high percentage of doctors, accountants, lawyers and other highly trained professionals are amateur musicians or had a high level of music studies growing up? This is proven in Vanderhoof.
• That there are many musicians from our town who have gone on to professional careers in music such as teaching music here in Vanderhoof; receiving Bachelors and Masters Degrees in various fields of the Performing Arts; recording CD’s?
• That many of the children and teens who take music lessons, or are in band, or who sing, will never see their picture in the paper if we don’t start celebrating their successes?
If this is a surprise, it may be because our local newspaper prints very little of the submissions or pictures which have been sent in multiple times of our students who compete at Provincials, win awards and scholarships, and very few pictures of workshops, recitals and coffee houses within this area. And yet, if it is hockey, football, golf, running, or basketball it is regularly celebrated in our local paper. Does this seem equitable? Does this seem fair to those students and adults who also commit their time and energy to something other than sports? This is truly a travesty to this community and those families who see the merit of music lessons. If any of the sports articles and pictures which were submitted rarely saw any of it show up in the local paper, there would be a hue and cry . In the almost 7 years I have lived here, I have seen scant coverage of all the music that happens, but I see a plethora of sports coverage. Again- is this equitable? Now that one can actually see how much music is in this town- is this acceptable? If there was a family looking to move here and read our local paper to get a feel for the town, and were looking to see if this was a well-balanced town- would they choose Vanderhoof? If a decision was made solely on the newspaper as a representation of the Performing Arts, one would conclude that the Performing Arts have little or no value in Vanderhoof.
I sincerely hope that the performing arts in Vanderhoof begins to receive the recognition it deserves, and that our local paper will encourage these musical athletes in the same manner as they encourage our physical athletes.
Swan Kiezebrink, Registered Suzuki Piano, Voice and Theory teacher; President of the Nechako Valley for the Performing Arts; Royal Conservatory Representative for Theoretical Exams.
Rebecca Gulbranson, Vocal and piano teacher; Children’s Community Choir Director.