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Blog: Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Nights of Music Rocks It Again

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

I had the pleasure emceeing Nights of Music on ‘closing night’ last Thursday. It was another tremendously successful event. Thanks to the leadership of the Abbotsford Music Educators Association (and Anne Letentre in particular) we saw what I believe was an all-time high of over 1150 students from 23 schools performing over the four nights of the event. Now in its 20th year, it was another amazing collection and celebration of music in our district. We celebrated music from primary students to grade 12 students, with performances including concert band, jazz band, hand bells, guitar groups, vocal jazz, ORFF instruments, dance troupes and more.

While every evening was special, there are two closing night performances that I would mention. Eugene Reimer’s Fusion Ensemble of ‘Something Big’ by Shawn Mendes featured singers accompanied by the piano and a tabla drum. Very cool. A second highlight was the Abby Traditional Secondary Jazz Band, which brought the house down with their rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘A Night in Tunisia.’ I heard one student exclaim to another as they were leaving the stage, “Did you hear that solo!?” I sure did. I imagine that such comments were made every night last week, as students were given an opportunity to demonstrate their learning in front of family, friends, and peers.

It must be noted that this is the fruit of some very committed musicians and educators. Having had two children benefit from this commitment, I am very aware of what it takes to develop and strengthen music education in our schools. These teachers spend hours and hours with students to turn their random and sometimes painful playing into the beautiful orchestra. Much of this work occurs behind the scenes, but as in any worthwhile endeavor, it is fueled by a love of students and the art form. 

Over the last few years our education system and curriculum have been changing to recognize something that we have known intuitively for a long time: that all students have areas of passionate focus (Ken Robinson calls it their ‘element’) which we need to nurture. Not every student knows what their element is, but it is up to us to find that spark in each child, and to play it up to celebrate their capacity to learn and do good work. Robinson, argues that for too long we have created a hierarchy within the disciplines, and have put the arts on the bottom rung. He argues that this has the potential of having countless (gifted) students opt out of education in particular and learning in general, and that we need to embrace the creative arts more broadly to engage students in learning. As you know, our revised curriculum opens the door to students and teachers to focus more deeply on areas of passion, such as music. 

I am delighted to see the fruits of the dedication of our teachers in this area. You never know where our next musical genius will come from. Thanks to events like Nights of Music, years from now one of our graduates will stand up in front of a crowd and say that his love of music came from his elementary teacher who taught him how to play ‘Smoke on the Water’ on the guitar.
 

By Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.