Ottawa musicians call for music education to return to the classroom
100 musicians, including the NAC Orchestra, perform outside at Ottawa City Hall. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- Local performers put on quite a show in front of Ottawa City Hall Thursday night to celebrate Music Education Day.
More than 100 musicians played together in harmony for the special concert.
The musical display was made up of music teachers and members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra who came together to perform Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in support of music education for children.
Organizer Jeannie Hunter says the pandemic forced programs in schools across the city to close and those that remain active have been severely reduced.
"A lot of fear playing wind instruments means a lot of wind instruments are gone from many schools," explained Hunter. "It shut down music programs and kids access to music programs."
For tuba player and student Jason Steed, it means rehearsing outdoors.
“It’s not the same experience as practicing or playing together in an ensemble on stage, in the classroom," he said.
For Olivia Messy, lessons have been virtual.
"I’d really like to go in the classroom,” she said.
"They lose focus and lost interest fast. At least in the classroom they're focused." said Messy’s mother, Raquel.
As COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ottawa continue to increase and with protocols in place, Hunter says now is the time to bring music education back into the classrooms
"Mask the person and mask the instrument,” said Hunter, who is also a music teacher with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. "We wanted to show people what PPE for a musical instrument looks like so when we talk about it we can envision it. We need to move forward and get kids back to doing what makes them happy."
For Steed, a student at Canterbury High School who attends the music program, that means finding solutions to move the music indoors ahead of the winter months and hoping this will change the tune around music in the classroom.
"It’s about how can we not why can’t we," said steed.