Free musical training for Spruce Ave students

Sarah McLachlan School of Music extends enrolment to Spruce Avenue

As I am canvassing for the Rat Creek Press at this spring’s Bloomin’ Garden Show & Art Sale, a striking young gentleman with distinctive shoulder tattoos walks by. My curiosity is piqued, so I ask for an introduction. 

“These tattoos are Cambodian script for song and sound. Hi, I’m Justin Khuong.”

I am guessing a connection with music, a strong interest of mine, so I probe a little further.

“I have been a guitar teacher for 13 years. I have a BA in education and a music diploma in composition from Grant MacEwan. I have been performing since 17, starting with punk, metal, then over time transitioning to folk acoustic guitar. My current band is Bardic Form, an award-winning progressive world folk fusion group,” he says. “And I also teach music at Eastglen with the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. ”

Whoa! This intro just went from intrigue to total shocker. Sarah McLachlan has a music school in Edmonton? In fact, the first school opened in Vancouver in 2002, and then a second school opened in Surrey, British Columbia. In 2016, a satellite school opened in Edmonton at Eastglen High School.

Khuong explains the music school was a good fit with Eastglen High School.

“They had space and an interest in hosting the program as well as an established guitar program. And the demographics fit with the mission of the school, which is to serve students from lower income and underserved neighbourhoods that might not have the opportunity to access musical training.” 

Khuong says formal musical training is expensive.

“It is Sarah’s conviction that music feeds the community and develops character and strengths and should be available to all children, no matter what the social-economic circumstance. Instruction and instruments are free to students, courtesy of donations from the public and large scale funders such as Sun Life Financial,” continues Khuong.

The Edmonton site currently has six teachers and one site manager who teach about 100 students from September to June.

“The school teaches not only music, but also a broad range of life skills. Students grow musically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. They develop self-esteem, resilience, the ability to act responsibly and independently and learn the importance of being active, engaged community members. After each semester, there are concerts and performances to provide students the opportunity to gain confidence on the stage.”

Eligible youth include students in Grades 7-9 attending Highlands, Ivor Dent, John D. Bracco, and Spruce Avenue schools. These students can apply to attend Tuesday and Thursday classes, which will depend on which school they attend. Eastglen students attend classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Interested students should sign up soon for the fall session. Registration forms can be found on sarahschoolofmusic.com


Featured Image: Justin Khuong (right) with fellow musician Brian Raine (left) playing at La Cité Francophone. All instructors of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music must also be performing musicians. Find out more about Khuong’s band at www.bardicform.com. | Supplied

Aydan Dunnigan-Vickruck

Aydan is a social worker, blogger, tango dancer, outdoor enthusiast and co-parent with Patricia to 8 children and 16 grandchildren. He’s also a resident of the 'hood and loving it.

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