Destiney Barton loves her World Music Class at 8J9J. She says she enjoys the program principally because it helps her forget about stress and get a mental break from her school work. Plus she loves the nachos the whole class gets to wolf down after practice.
"When I started, I didn't really get the hang of it," says Barton. "But then I just kept playing and realized where all the keys were. I like going and learning new music. It's very calming, especially when you have had a rough day."
Developed originally by retired 8J9J teacher (and legend) Mary-Jo Campbell, the class has been running for over a decade. Every Thursday, 8J9J's students hustle out of their portable classroom to an activity room in Britannia Secondary. There, they assemble around a range of marimbas (big and small) and begin to practice a ditty while taught by Sarah McLachlan School of Music.
9J9J teacher Janet Eviston says she likes the program because it bonds her cohort of kids together.
"It really helps create a cooperative cohort where we each understand that each kid is important to the collective success of the program," she says. "When performing music they feel like they are needed and they belong. Once they start doing music they are really quite gentle with each other and there is cooperation, not competition."
Barton and her classmates will continue to refine their skills on the marimbas (as well as on guitar, piano and drums) in advance of their main performance at the Vancouver Alternative Secondary School Art Fair.