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ArtsAround ‘Building Culturally Engaged School Communities’ Plan for 2023-24

Thank you, AITs for all your input during the opening AIT Workshop this year.

Remember we are developing an ‘action plan’ together and this will always be a work-in-progress. We will continue to adjust and learn as we go, altering what works and what does not. Because we covered so much territory in this workshop, I thought it best we follow this outline, determined by priorities due to timelines. If you would like to make any suggestions or changes about this topic, which is not just instruments but creating a plan to always have sustainable instruments, in every school, simply email your suggestions to if you want anything added or deleted. I will be sure your ideas are shared with the group.

About Percussion Instruments

Although the new AITs had only a quick demo of how to set up a Music Team/Centre, I hope you learned a sustainable strategy to manage the noise level and the potential discipline problems when working with instruments. The last thing ArtsAround needs is for teachers to get so frustrated that the instruments are ignored or replaced with easier approaches. Creating harmonies with instruments is such a rewarding experience for students that you want to be sure they get a chance to experiment as much as they can. This may be their only chance to feel the satisfaction of blending beautiful sounds and the camaraderie of playing together.

A brief demo of Music Teams demonstrated for new AITs (and reminding experienced AITs) to place 5 percussion instruments in a Music Team Instrument Box/Kit (# 1-5) plus include one Orff instrument at each centre. The 5th team will use a keyboard/piano instead of an ORFF. iPads with a virtual keyboard (with a blue tooth amplifier) could be used as a secondary pitched instrument, where needed. This would allow for 30 kids to be involved. One or two kids could also use a ukulele. Classes with 24-28 children, could have 4 teams. It will differ depending on class size. If you are without ORFF, you will need iPads as virtual keyboards instead, at each Music Centre. (Just until this problem is resolved.) That is just an emergency measure to continue with active, fun-filled music lessons.

However, after some discussion about the state of the instruments, we concluded that organizing better strategies to get ALL schools up to speed to provide optimum Music Teams was needed. We decided to:

a) follow the Instrument Box System which may require upgrading instruments that are in each box. First, decide what is needed for your school. As music lessons are already in place, it is important that this is accomplished in a timely fashion. Once you have the instrument list completed, after looking online or at Long and McQuade, along with costs, approach your school principal to brief him/her about approaching the Parent Council for funding. The educational representative at Long and McQuade is John Bialy – Random Date Chosen: October 19. If we don’t pick a date, music lessons will be over. Ordering needs to take place immediately when approved. Decide if you are going to teach roadies to put the Music Kits in your car, until a safe haven is established for them to remain.

b) In the interim, IF your school is so low on percussion that you are not able to provide enough for your classes right now, ask your principal for enough cash to replace percussion instruments so each Music Team Box is equal. Also keep in mind that found objects can work in a pinch. (Cheese grader and a knitting needle or ice cream bucket as a drum, or a toy that has a sound.) Try Walmart, the Dollar Store or Amazon for cheap replacements for now. Cheesy, but it will get you through this session of lessons.

c) Now about ORFF. Yikes, that’s an expensive problem! For those of you who have four ORFF instruments, you will need to inform your principal of the reorganizational procedures in place to fairly distribute what is needed (AND SUSTAINED) in each school. Explain the past problem of instruments going missing even when locked away, since other people in the school (after hours or otherwise) have access and many instruments disappeared. Would it be possible for ‘roadies’ to leave the instruments in the corner of the office or the principal office since at least they would be under surveillance? Of course, accept the principal’s preference here. P.S. A set of four ORFF instruments can cost $1000 or more. These, and percussion, truly need to be protected for economical reasons! A spreadsheet shows that some new Orff were purchased, along with instruments in 2020. Indicating the importance to get this corrected NOW!

Note to Self: Every Orff needs two decent mallets. Not pencils or rhythm sticks. Please accommodate for this in your costs as this is crucial to sustainable Music Teams. Order 5-6 sets of mallets to accommodate all Music Teams. Having extra mallets is prudent.

d) IF schools have more than 4 ORFF instruments, perhaps you could temporarily loan them to a school who needs them. GOD BLESS you for that! Contact Mary Tabone to help orchestrate (forgive the pun) that if you are fortunate enough to have extra.

Once all the above has been accomplished, please have your ‘classroom helpers’ or any students you feel are reliable to type a list of instruments that will be taped to the lid of each Music Instrument Box so we can finally have a running record of what each school has. As the instruments break or disappear an AIT can replace them as they go. Keep a copy of those lists in your files for the next AIT. Accountability matters for this system to become sustainable! Discussion with your superintendent and principal will need to occur about further ORFF costs.

For now, this is MORE than enough to digest! Late in October, I will talk about the notes I have on positive psychology, (fixed vs growth mindsets plus levels of consciousness) talked about in our workshop, to recall how they can be applied to yourself, your work with students, and staff.

In November I will talk about what School Spirit Assemblies might look like. Something tells me you don’t need anyone telling you what to do in December. Just chill, accept the busyness of the season and enjoy! Go get ‘em people! You got this, pioneers! Who exactly is a pioneer?

“A Trailblazer is a pioneer, somebody who’s willing to take risks and go in a path that isn’t already there. They blaze a trail and leave a path for others.”


In ArtsAround, we have a plan, and we know where we are going! It’s just so much easier to walk that path together!