President’s Message Winter 2017

This school year is a big change for me both personally and professionally. My daughter has begun attending Kindergarten in September, and I began a Master’s program through SFU. We joke about how we are both starting school at the same time.

It is a new and interesting perspective to have a daughter in school. I am glad for this other layer of perspective about the school experience. I am learning so much this year and really developing a different attitude about my job.

I have completed one course through the Masters of Arts Education program. The course was Aesthetics in Arts Education. This course was a breath of fresh air for me professionally. I was encouraged to live more aesthetically and practice my own art. These are two things that I have felt I have not had time for. By being accountable to a professor and a grade, I took the time to breathe, explore, notice and enjoy life in a more aesthetic way. I also practice the piano more. I practice it for me, not just the next choir song. And I have revived photography as a visual art outlet. I would encourage our members to take time as well. If we are not enjoying and practicing one or many art forms, how can we preach to our students to enjoy and practice their art? If we don’t have an aesthetic outlook, how can our students appreciate various forms of art and the world they see around them?

I have also been lucky to enjoy working part-time this year in order to have time to study and develop professionally. Although I miss the students at my school and the daily connection with my colleagues, I am noticing that the time, along with encouragement to be a more aesthetic person, has let me relax more this year, and gain a perspective on my profession and energy. I am trying to keep the big picture of what I do with my students more in the forefront of my planning. I want my students to enjoy music. I want them to participate in any art form that speaks to them personally. I want to make connections between the various art forms. I want them to leave their elementary career with an artistic outlet of some form, and the confidence to know they can be a creative person. This is my goal. Maybe taking a wider perspective, which our new curriculum also encourages us to do, will give you the freedom to let your students explore more in various art forms in your room too. Although we teach “music” as a subject, we teach children in the long run.

I hope all of our members will be able to attend the January workshop. It promises to be extremely practical. Sherryl Sewepagaham will be presenting First Nations songs that we can use in our classrooms. I have always used songs that she has presented at past workshops. Please encourage all of your music colleagues to attend this workshop  

on January 21st for connections to our new curriculum.

At our AGM, we welcomed three new members to our Board of Directors, Adrian Clift, Krista Dugdale and Christy Wu. We sadly saw our co-President, Vanessa Fer, move away, but she is happy to be close to family and teaching in Winnipeg, Manitoba, her home town.

Our Vice President, Amy Johnston, has given birth to a new little girl, Annika on November 16th. She is stepping away from the Board for the remainder of the school year’s workshops. We all wish her new family well and congratulate Amy and Vince on their new addition.

Children’s Day is in February and we are trying a new type of day this year. We have planned to hold it on a Pro-D day. Faith Veikle, Jillian Christmas and I have been planning a day that will integrate many art forms. I think it will be really enjoyable. If you are not familiar with spoken word and slam poetry, you will learn something about it on Children’s Day!

I am enjoying my new role as a workshop clinician with planning Children’s Day, and I also taught 3 “Orff Bootcamp” sessions at U.B.C. for the music cohort there. Our new “Orff Bootcamp” sessions are well received, and give a good introduction to the world of teaching in the Orff Process. If you feel your district or program needs a course like this to introduce new teachers or teachers new to elementary music to the Orff Process, please contact me at, and I will be happy to set up a clinician for your area.

I hope all of our members had a glorious winter season, and will have a 2017 that will be memorable. I hope that many of you will take a little more time to be aesthetic and practicing artists. I know you love your art – that is why you teach children about it. Love it and live it.

Sonja Karlson

B.C. Orff Chapter President