An Okanagan-based music school is hoping to open doors to the future of music education in Canada.
Students at Wentworth Music School can now study rock, funk, fusion, Latin and heavy metal in a structured way and receive the same qualifications in music as classical studies.
Entitled Rockschool, the accredited program also offers musicians at a certain level of their studies to shoot for teaching diplomas.
“Once, not too long ago, there were only a handful of ways to receive recognizable credentials in music education outside of post secondary music school. For over a hundred years, classical exam boards were the only way students could get certification or grades on instruments like piano and voice,” said Noel Wentworth, vice president of music education at Wentworth.
The Rockschool examination board has been in operation internationally for 20 years conducting studies and exams on drums, electric guitar and bass, synthesizer as well as piano and voice.
“It was only a matter of time that it would come to Canada,” said Wentworth. “There are various levels of difficulty in every style of music and the same language is used primarily for all of it. It just took someone to put the information together so it could be related the same way as the traditional methods.”
In March, 12 instructors from Wentworth Music in Kelowna and Vernon finished off a rigorous course in music education that gave them qualifications equivalent to their first or third year of a bachelor’s of education.
The course took place over several months and covered all aspects of education including lesson plans for private and group instruction, assessment of student performance, learning styles, detailed knowledge of music theory, learning disabilities as well as demonstrations of instructor teaching and performance capabilities.
The group achieved the first qualifications of their kind in Canada with three instructors receiving their diploma in music and nine others with their licentiate diploma in music (the highest diploma available through Rockschool.)
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Wentworth. “We all worked very hard to further our education to help our students as well as receive these new titles.”
Now that Wentworth Music has completed this certification, musicians from across Canada can take the diploma programs to get the same qualifications and further their professional development.
“We’re trying to open up the doors for knowledgeable musicians and teachers across the valley (and country) who want to further their education, build camaraderie as musicians and explore new teaching tools that will benefit our students.”
In addition to the Wentworth instructors receiving these qualifications, Canada Walk of Fame nominee and lead singer of The Headpins, Vernon’s Darby Mills, as well as Chris De Burgh and David Hasselhoff’s guitarist, Kelowna’s Danny McBride, will be presented with honorary licentiate diplomas for their contributions to popular music.
“Many musicians of this status likely did not have the opportunity to go to school and receive qualifications because they were always on the road performing or recording the music others would end up learning by ear off of their albums,” said Wentworth. “It’s one of the coolest honours that a company like Rockschool will be recognizing their years of work and presenting qualifications of notable importance like this to these musicians.”
On June 2, the 12 instructors from Wentworth Music in Kelowna and Vernon will be presented with their diplomas by a Rockschool examiner who is flying in from England. The ceremony will also feature guest speakers Dale Wentworth, Noel Wentworth, Darby Mills and Danny McBride, who will be speaking on life lessons, stories of their experience and the importance of music education.
The event is open to the public at the First Lutheran Church on Lakeshore Drive in Kelowna. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with the ceremonies starting at 5 p.m.
In addition, Rockschool will be conducting a free workshop at Wentworth Music in Vernon, June 6 at 10:30 a.m., where the instructors will be introduced, and books, courses and examinations will be made available.
More information can be found under events on Wentworth Music’s website at www.wentworthmusic.com