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Written By: Marianne van Toor, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation

Ms. Julia Browning has seen improvements in her students’ 3Rs (reading, writing, ‘rithmatic) by incorporating music, dance and drama in her classes at Bayview Elementary school.

A recent $2,500 grant from the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation allowed the teacher to purchase more musical instruments for her Kindergarten to Grade 4 students, whose families cannot afford to buy instruments.

“Students who previously were unable to participate in music have found the confidence to focus and thrive in class,” says Ms. Browning. “Students who may not excel academically find confidence in creative thinking. I’ve noticed a change in the social skills of some students as a result of working cooperatively within a fine arts atmosphere; they’re able to be leaders in music class.”

She used the grant to purchase five xylophones, two class sets of recorders and percussion tools such as rhythm shakers, as well as tuners for the ukuleles the school already owns.

“Students love playing the instruments, and they’ve been composing their own songs. It’s wonderful to see and hear them use their music skills creatively,” she says.

Ms. Browning says that Bayview’s Arts Education program stresses communication, respect, responsibility, critical and creative thinking, and development of the student’s personal and cultural identity.

“This is the only opportunity for many of our students to engage in formal training in music, dance and drama at the elementary level,” she adds.

Crystal Dennison, the Foundation’s new Executive Director, says that since 2009 NLSF has distributed $29,000 for instruments at 13 elementary schools in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors we’re able to fund special initiatives when school budgets are tight. Our Elementary Music grants have introduced many students to the joy of playing music,” she adds.

For more information about the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation, please visit