During the final weeks of Grade 5 I typed a note, forged my mother's signature and handed it to my teacher. It explained that I had been taking private drum lessons for years. I was lying. I didn't even own a pair of drumsticks.
I justified writing the letter as an act of self-preservation. I wanted to be cool, and to me that meant playing the drums in the sixth grade. The note was intended to guarantee me a spot playing percussion the following year; excluding me from the lottery system that would otherwise assign my instrument. How hard could it be to teach yourself an instrument? I thought. So I devoted my entire summer to learning how to play the drums. That's how important band class was.
Unfortunately, listening to your dad's Steely Dan records and banging on pillows doesn't really count as drum lessons. In turn, I learned how to play the drums in school from a very patient teacher. Those lessons are what got me here today. Not only because I play drums professionally, because music has provided me with an outlet and a love of both playing and listening that has helped me through some of my most difficult times. Music kept me on track in school and in life. It has provided me an alternative and creative space. To me, drums were my opportunity and my escape.
As recently as May of this year, the Toronto District School Board sought to forever mute the instrumental music program as a way to balance their budget. Thankfully, the TDSB program was saved, but the deficit will only persist next year. What's more, these types of cuts threaten music programs all across Canada, not just in Toronto. A battle may have been won, but the war is far from over.
This can't happen. Music programs must stay.
This November, we will hold a series of free performances in Canadian schools. Each performance will be followed by a hands-on tutorial as well as a meet-and-greet with interested students. The Play In School tour will begin with a few Southern Ontario high schools and hopefully grow into a nationwide tour. Our plan is to promote awareness for the importance of music programs and the constant threat of losing them.
Play In School is a way for us to connect with our young fans and to show young people how it can be both fun and rewarding to pursue music in their lives, and most importantly, why it's such an important part of public education. Furthermore, we want to inspire our fans to hold their school boards accountable to maintain and develop music programs. We urge students to tell their teachers and principals that they want to participate in our Play In School tour. Interested school representatives should contact our management: Aaron Miller.
Students can and should also reach out to us via Twitter: @itsthedarcys and Facebook.com/itsthedarcys
The following schools are already participating in The Darcys Play In School Tour:
Rosedale Heights School For The Arts [Toronto]
Alexander Mackenzie High School [Richmond Hill]
Richview Collegiate Institute [Etobicoke]
Sutton District High School [Sutton West]
Kitchener Collegiate Institute [Kitchener-Waterloo]
Huron Heights [Newmarket]
For those interested, you can buy our new record Warring here: http://smarturl.it/WARRING
Follow Wes Marskell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/itsthedarcys