Bill Henderson wants VSB to protect music programs

Chilliwack lead singer Bill Henderson is calling on the Vancouver School Board to save elementary school strings and band programs. (Bill Henderson)

A B.C. music great is stepping up in defence of music programs in Vancouver's schools. 

Bill Henderson, best known for being the lead singer in Chilliwack and The Collectors, says the proposed cuts to elementary school band and strings programs would be catastrophic for students.

He's asking the Vancouver School Board to re-consider the proposal.

"I've got three grandchildren that are in the elementary system in Vancouver and I think it's really important for them to be able to access the band and strings programs," said Henderson in an interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition. 

Henderson says music saved his life at a young age because it provided him a safe outlet for his feelings and emotions when he was on the verge of losing control.

"Music was like a refuge to me. It was the one place I could express my emotions without getting censure from others. I could make mistakes without getting my wrists slapped," said Henderson. 

And he says the strings and band programs could do the same for today's youth. 

"It gave me the space to learn and be confident in myself and kids need that."

The Vancouver School Board is proposing the cut as one option in a plan to deal with a $13 million budget shortfall. The move would save the district more than $630,000.

The board is also considering an additional three days of school closures following the Remembrance Day holiday in November.