Program aims to sound lost chord for children

by Bruce Mason staff writer

"It's unique and long overdue," says Peter Gouzouasis, associate professor in Music Education, as he does the Hokey-Pokey with a handful of toddlers. Strewn across the floor are hula-hoops and shakers, guitars and cassette decks, parents and children. As he puts his right foot in and shakes it all about, he explains the Music Preparatory Program for Children and Youth he is establishing at UBC.

"Children in the Lower Mainland will have exciting opportunities to make connections between art, dance, and music in the only program of its kind in B.C.," he says, keeping eye contact at knee level.

"That's what it's all about!" Gouzouasis pauses and shouts to a small group, which is breathing heavily but keen to move on.

As music programs in the public school system rapidly decline, he hopes to soften the impact.

Faculty and instructors from Education and the School of Music will be involved in various aspects of the project, which will draw on the most up-to-date research, teaching materials and practice in childhood music education. The state-of-the-art MUSES Computer Laboratory, with digitized sound, music, graphics, and video, will supplement the traditional classroom.

An early pioneer in the preschool music movement of the early '80s, Gouzouasis has more than 20 years of innovative teaching experience with newborn through Grade 7 children.

Classes are being set up for children from birth to 12 years. Prices vary from $15 and $20 per session to $150 to $200 for a 10-week session. Special, deep discounts are available to UBC faculty and staff.

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