We must keep the music alive

DARCY CHEEK The Recorder and Times Ellie McCann plays I may be biased on this one, since I got to skip work this morning and watch my two daughters perform in the Brockville Music Festival. Then there's this afternoon, when my eldest daughter placed first in her category for classical piano.

But spending the day at the Brockville Arts Centre brought on the irresistible urge to rant about the importance of the music festival, which the Brockville Lions Club is putting on for the 62nd year.

It culminates Tuesday night with the Stars of the Festival, and a decent turnout would be a welcome antidote to a continuing decline in participation.

Music Festival committee chairman Norm Kearney said there are about 400 entries, adding the number is in decline because there is less musical instruction in schools.

If some people still need convincing that studying music makes a child a better-rounded individual, they should probably spend some time watching these eager kids -- and their parents and teachers -- go through the festival, a week-long series of performances in front of adjudicators in piano, band/instrumental and voice.

The kids are not only learning discipline. Music also nurtures that part of the brain that can take that discipline in all kinds of unexpected directions. The music enriches us all, and the kind of mental training it fosters can lead to innovation in other fields.

It's also about family and community.

I have had my fill of people slagging Brockville for whatever inane reasons, but the music festival is something we have over many other communities.

And lest you think it's only about classical music, one young duo today performed a piano piece called "Lady Gaga Fugue," based on that pop star's "Bad Romance."

It was a treat to hear adjudicator Janet Fothergill ask the kids: "Lady... Gaga is it?"

Yes, Lady Gaga. Of the Newport Gagas. A fine family.