Red Deer Public School District

Students to give the gift of music to community in year end concert

Young new musicians in the Music + Explorers program have been honing their skills all year long and are ready to showcase their talent for the community in a year end performance later this week.

On June 8 at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre the Explorers will perform one song they have arranged about the planet Earth.

In its second year, students at G.H. Dawe School have had the opportunity to experience many benefits of Music + Explorers, which is an after school program run twice a week by the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra in partnership with the school.

This El Sistema-inspired music enrichment opportunity is a social development program that inspires kids to achieve their full potential.

“The program is really amazing. It provides a safe place for our kids to be after school, which is always the target for any of our after-school programs. It also provides an opportunity for kids to use music and the arts to explore issues within their community and create a positive impact surrounding those issues,” said Calista Lonsdale-Pangle, Middle School Music Director at G.H. Dawe and Music Program Educator at the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

She added it has been inspiring to see the growth of the students in the program.

“In students who were typically a little bit introverted, we see them step out and create new connections with other kids in the group, as well as exploring their own sense of comfort and confidence. Creating a new skill is a great way to get kids to gain more confidence in themselves,” said Lonsdale-Pangle. “For kids who are very boisterous and outgoing, it helps them create a sense of focus and concentration and it gives them a sense of leadership.”

Chandra Kastern, Executive Director of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, said the program began because of the recognition that if students don’t experience music in their middle school years, they will not likely get involved in music at the high school level and beyond.

“We need to open up opportunities for students. When we looked at the schools, G.H. Dawe had not had an active band program for nearly 20 years,” she said. “It all started with trying to raise money to get instruments so that the north end schools could have band programs, which we did in collaboration with the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools.”

Kastern added being a part of the program has been very fulfilling.

“To watch these kids grow, not even just as students, but as people and musicians, is pretty amazing. They are so grateful,” she said. “Personally it really shows me in that the little things really do matter and that we’re doing something really amazing, even though at this point it’s on a really small scale, this is something these kids are going to remember forever. That really resonates with me.”

Friday’s performance begins at 5:15 p.m. Admission is by donation to the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society.