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Date: May 25, 2004

UVic music students train tomorrow's top musicians

UVic music students are getting credit for helping save one of the longest running school orchestra programs in Canada.

After 80 years of existence, the strings program in the Greater Victoria School District faced extinction in 2000 when the school board voted to cancel the elementary strings program due to budget woes. The entire musical community rallied against the cut, including faculty members from UVic’s school of music and members of UVic’s Lafayette String Quartet. They helped out by coaching their university music students to work alongside the district’s string teachers as mentors in the district’s beginning elementary classes in exchange for university credit.

The UVic string mentorship program has been such a success that this directed studies course is now part of the regular university curriculum.

UVic music student Bryan Deans, who plays the cello, has participated in the strings mentoring program since 2001. “The goal of UVic’s string mentorship program is to enhance the instruction provided to Victoria students. This is important since the school district only has a few paid full-time string teachers. But for the UVic mentors, the program also provides insight into teacher training and job choices and reinforces the importance of a university education. On a personal level, my years in the mentorship program provided me with real life experience of what it would be like to work in public schools. It also provided me with an environment for developing strategies for dealing with a whole range of students.”

“One of the fortunate outcomes of the Save Our Strings movement has been the improved mutual support and communication among the artistic and musical community organizations,” says Greater Victoria School District string orchestra teacher Susan Colonval. “The UVic mentorship program is a huge win/win situation. Our elementary students love to work with their university mentors, and through their experiences with them they may feel more comfortable about continuing on to university themselves.”

On May 27, UVic’s faculty of fine arts and the athletics and recreation department will host the Greater Victoria School District’s annual Orchestra Finale at 7:30 p.m. in the McKinnon Gym. UVic student mentors and more than 700 students—who range in age from 10 to 17—from the district’s string orchestra program will perform at the free event. As part of its commitment to support the local community, UVic will host the finale free of charge. For more information call (250) 727-6649 or email orchestra@shaw.ca.

UVic is a Canadian leader in offering practical workplace learning opportunities for students. It operates the third-largest cooperative education program in the country with approximately 3,000 placements each year and offers experiential learning opportunities in every faculty.

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Media contacts:
Bryan Deans (Music) at cell (250) 882-6712 or bdeans1@shaw.ca
Patricia Kostek (Music) at (250) 721-7901 or pkostek@finearts.uvic.ca
Susan Colonval (GVSDSO) at cell (250) 661-4837 or scolonval@shaw.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca


UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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