‘A lot of excitement’: Lethbridge music teachers prepare for near-normal school year

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Business is booming for Serious Music Centre in downtown Lethbridge ahead of the 2021-22 school year, as they work to provide students with new and used instruments this fall.

“We’ve really seen an uptick in the last week, week-and-a-half, of families and children coming in to take a look for some instruments for the year,” manager Dean Wilson said.

Compared to this time last year, Wilson said the difference is night and day.

Musical education was impacted by continuous COVID-19 restrictions in 2020-21, with several moves to and from online learning — meaning less families sought out supplies.

“Last year, I think, was a disappointment for (students) and they want to get back in their school band and start having some fun again,” he added.

For music teacher Scott Davidson, the impacts were felt both inside and outside the classroom.

“Being social is a big part of being part of a music community,” he explained. “It was almost discouraged last year, to put on social events.”

“We weren’t able to rehearse properly, we had to social distance. We were also kind of in a position where we had to try to be great ensembles, but then at the end of it we wouldn’t have any sort of live performance.”

Davidson, who will be starting his sixth year of teaching at Chinook High School in less than a week, said music programs are a staple of the school.

More than 250 students partake in a variety of music classes, such as band, jazz, choir and guitar.

“The students that really enjoy high school are the ones that feel like they belong and if they’re here and they’re part of the music program, they feel like they belong to that, and they take ownership and they work hard at it.

“It just ends up being a meaningful experience to them.”

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When in-person performances weren’t possible last year, Davidson resorted to virtual concerts.

“It was pretty successful, pretty fun, but still not the same as a live audience,” he said, adding he hopes to be able to put on their regular in-person concerts and performances this year.

“I think the students and I will have a lot of fun coming back to be doing these things again.”

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