artist in res 

By Loreth Beswetherick The technical term for what Milton Randall does to earn a living is ethno musicology but, to the students at Myrtle Philip community school, Randall is simply, the drummer. He spent last week at Myrtle Philip filling the halls with the primitive rhythm as part of the school’s artists-in-residence program. Randall was the third artist to spend time with the kids since the program was initiated in 1997. He was also the favourite, says teacher Alison Hunter who sits on the fine arts committee, an off-shoot of the Parents’ Advisory Council which funds the program 100 per cent. Randall, who has a couple of Masters degrees under his belt and has taught at every level across North America, is more simply known as a world musician or percussionist. Each class spent three drumming sessions with Randall and he got the kids talking. "It was a really positive experience," said Hunter. "Wherever I went parents said the kids were talking about it and, if the kids are going home and going to skating and other activities and talking, it has made an impact." The first artist in the series was Alison Diefvelt who made papier-maché birds with each student in the school. The following year Myrtle Philip was host to Marion Rose who did a dance residency last March. Hunter said ideally, a way will be found to raise some cash to buy some drums for the school. "That is what I am hoping for. Then, maybe if we can practice what we have learned and next year we could have Milton come back and take us the next step," she said. "The artists-in-residence program is kind of a shot in the arm once and I think it needs to be a continual learning experience because then we are building our skills." Hunter said Randall volunteered a drumming session for the teachers and some adults after his residency on Thursday afternoon. He also did a session at Hunter’s honour choir rehearsal without charge. "He wouldn’t let us pay him. That meant some of the high school kids got to work with him too and I thought that was important." Hunter herself is now hooked. She bought some equipment from Randall which she hopes to incorporate into a choir routine. The artists-in-residence program costs the PAC approximately $3,000 per year. Hunter said there are many other schools in the province with similar programs but how they choose to fund them is up to the individual schools. Some are handled through PACs, other schools have budgeted for them. "There are some districts where artists-in residence programs and music specials are a given."

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