Young Val-d'Or students access music through plastic trombones

The pBone program started three years ago at Golden Valley School in Val-d'Or, Que., when it was deemed by the school principal as the best way to offer music class to students.

Inexpensive plastic trombones allow school with small student body to give music classes to Grade 4 students

Every Thursday, Ms. Chloe Dunlop's Grade 4 class at Golden Valley School in Val-d'Or, Que., walks a few hundred meters down the street for music class.

"It's a little bit of a special thing for us, because the other classes don't have an activity to learn music," says 10-year­old Jeff Bélanger.

The students play pBones — colourful, plastic trombones — in a class taught by a brass professor who teaches at Val-d'Or's music conservatory.

Affordable music class

The pBone program started three years ago when it was deemed by the school principal as the best way to offer music class to students.

"We don't have the means, the kids, or the room for a music program at our school so this is an excellent opportunity for these students," says the class's homeroom teacher, Chloe Dunlop.

"They learn to read music, to play an instrument and they do it with a professional so it's great for them."

The pBones cost about $150, less than a third of a traditional, metal instrument. Plus, they don't have a maintenance cost to hammer out dents.

Neal Bennett, the p-­bone teacher says the instruments sound "quite acceptable."

"It takes a lot of practice but sometimes I get better at it," says nine-year-old Xavier Rose, adding that the vibrations of blowing into the p-­bone sometimes hurt his lips.

Inexpensive plastic trombones allow Golden Valley School to give music classes to Grade 4 students. 0:15

Music good for students

Dunlop says her students love to tell her what they learned in p-­bone class, and she notices they are more relaxed for the rest of the day when they have music in the morning.

"I like it because we can do any kind of songs, and sometimes you can become a rock star," says 10­-year-­old Chloé Desrosiers.

Bennett says he is working with the school to try and find a way to continue some sort of music program beyond Grade 4, but he says in the meantime, he says students can join a band program offered at the Conservatory on Saturday mornings for about $100 per year.​

About the Author

Marika Wheeler

CBC Quebec's travelling journalist

Based in Quebec City, Marika travels across the province telling the stories of people who live and work in la belle province for CBC Radio One and CBCnews.ca.

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