Meri’s Musical Musings

When choosing a school for a child…be sure to check out the music program!

Posted on: July 8, 2012

When choosing a school for a child at any level, but especially the elementary level, but almost as important, the high schools your child may attend, is to check out the school music programs, by attending the concerts, especially the choirs, bands, and orchestras, held at the schools you are thinking about having a child study at. Compare at least 3 schools, and up to 5 that you are considering per child, and if you discover the quality of the music program in a nearby area is significantly better, and even superior to your home school, especially at the elementary level, apply for alternative school attendance, or if that fails or is not possible (some schools are not available for students outside certain neighbourhoods), move to an address within that neighbourhood you would like that child to attend.

I’ve known a few students who, if they had attended an elementary school with a much better music program than the one they did, they would be playing at  a somewhat higher, more appropriate level for their age and length of study, and others, who had superior musicianship developed in private lessons, were not even challenged by the most advanced ensemble in the high school they attended, sometimes even as early as Grade 9 being a better player than any of the senior students, which at a school with a strong program, they would develop their skills much further and would have had peers who also took private lessons on their instrument.

Another reason to check out the quality of the music program is because schools with excellent music programs almost always have strong academic programs, while the reverse is not always true: I myself attended a school with a fairly weak music program but a strong academic one, and only got my challenging pieces through chamber music and non-school groups.

Still another reason to check the school music programs, especially in elementary and middle schools, is to see if they run a traditional music program (choir, band and orchestra) or a mix of traditional with options open to non-traditional students (such as “rock band” and world drumming), or just non-traditional programs. Especially if you want the child to learn a traditional instrument, you want to avoid the schools that offers the non-traditional programs exclusively.

Finally, there is one last reason you need to check out the schools carefully, especially if your child plays a string instrument, particularly if they enjoy it: many elementary and middle schools/Jr. high schools, even some high schools, DO NOT offer any form of a strings program. (I’m not a strings teacher, but did attend schools that did not offer string instrument programs)

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  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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