Over 10,000 Winnipeg students will perform a song dedicated to Music Monday to bring awareness to the importance of musical education and educators.
Music Monday first began in 1995 on the first Monday in May and was put together by the Coalition of Music Education in Canada. The first song performed by schools all across Canada was Chalk Circle by Chris Tait, and since then, every two years, a new song is commissioned and they now call it their Song of Celebration.
The purpose of Music Monday is to demonstrate the power and importance of music education.
This year, the Coalition of Music Education in Canada (CMEC) commissioned Mimi Obonsawin to write the lyrics of their new song, and Nicholas Ma to compose the piece. The song is titled "Music is Our Medicine.
"[It] was a terrific theme. Coming out of the pandemic really fits with what's going on and how music helps with mental health and well-being to everyone but our children," says Stacey Sinclair, Executive Director of CMEC.
The CMEC advocates for quality music education across the country and works at lessening the disparities that are found from province to province, and even within provinces. With the effects of the pandemic, Sinclair says that there has been a decline in music educators and they are working at strengthening the musical community.
"We know that music education impacts students in so many different ways. I mentioned mental health and well-being, but also creativity, expression, collaboration, connecting us and empathy. Between coming out of the pandemic with isolation and social media, empathy is something that we're all trying to get students to work on."
She also says that there will be approximately 10,000 students that will be participating in this year's Music Monday, including those in the River East Transcona School Division.
Dan Steinhilber is a music teacher at Transcona Collegiate Institute and he is excited to gather with high school, middle school and elementary school students to perform "Music is Our Medicine."
When Steinhilber first started teaching at Transcona Collegiate in 2007, he started inviting local middle schools and elementary schools for a concert where each of them shares one or two pieces and creates an opportunity to share music between all ages for Music Monday.
"The older kids are inspired by all these young kids doing all these cool things," says Steinhilber. "We have great teachers in our area and so seeing them do all these cool and fun things, and then the younger kids get to see where music can take them because we have our jazz band and our vocal jazz group, our concert band and concert choir all do a performance at that event and share something that we're working on for upcoming concerts."
The music teacher also says that music classes give youth the opportunity to be vulnerable and take risks. Many children have developed severe anxiety throughout the course of the pandemic, and music education like band class and choir give youth a safe environment to take that risk, to mess up and then learn from it.
Steinhilber says that when he plays his trumpet in front of his students he still messes up sometimes, and that shows his students that even someone who has practiced an instrument for years can make mistakes.
"Anyone who's learned how to play an instrument knows that learning it is a process that really never ends, and you're constantly failing and you're looking for the next thing. So, it's just an awesome learning tool for kids, and just learning the commitment of having to sit down and do something really hard, that you're responsible to the rest of the group for."
Stacey Sinclair says that if anyone is interested in seeing the full impact of schools across Canada participating in Music Monday, to visit their website and YouTube Channel which will display videos of students performing "Music is Our Medicine."