An Abbotsford-based music school is growing, thanks in part to the generosity of a local family with a strong connection to the music world.
The Devon Clifford Music Foundation is granting funds to the Bakerview Music Academy (BMA) that will allow them to hire a new percussion musician. They are currently on the search for someone who can teach children Grades 4 and up.
The Clifford family of Abbotsford established the Devon Clifford Music Foundation in memory of their son Devon Clifford, who was a talented drummer and member of the band You Say Party. He collapsed on stage during a concert in 2010 and passed away in hospital after suffering a brain injury.
“We realize that music is important and part of our community and it needs our monetary support,” says Ronald Clifford. “We saw the positive effect music had on our son and his many musical friends and we want to encourage that in our community.
His wife Edna says that their son would be proud to know the impact he has had on Abbotsford children, and that supporting BMA was an easy choice.
“The program at BMA is a very good fit with the goals of the Devon Clifford Music Foundation so we chose to provide funds to BMA because they have a dedicated vision of where they want to be in the future as they provide music instruction to underserved youth,” she said.
They also said they appreciate that the non-profit music academy has a proven track record of providing ongoing lessons since 2013 and trust that the organization will deliver on its goals.
“We believe that musicians deserve to be paid for their expertise and services. For a program to be successful, you need to have a dedicated group of paid employees with expertise,” Edna says. “Putting instruments in as many children’s hands as possible leads to better outcomes.”
BMA gives Fraser Valley youth access to professional, after-school El Sistema inspired music lessons, with preference given to children from low-income, single-parent and large families. Admission to BMA is very inclusive and open to all Abbotsford students – there is no audition process.
They are hoping to hire a new teacher quickly.
“In order to provide premier programming to our students, we need to be able to hire premier teaching artists to both develop and deliver our class instruction,” explains Heidi Epp, Program Director of BMA. “To find high quality staff, we need to be able to offer fair compensation, so we are very thankful to the Devon Clifford Music Foundation for providing funding towards one of our staff positions.”
The programs are offered at no cost to the students, through private and corporate donors.
Based on the revolutionary El Sistema (the System) program in Venezuela, the goal of BMA is to inspire Abbotsford youth to achieve their full potential and to have a positive impact on their lives and society as a whole. The BMA program empowers youth while developing talented musicians who get to experience the joy of performing. Currently students learn musicianship, percussion, choir, violin, viola and cello.
Epp notes that support from the Devon Clifford Music Foundation, and another recent grant from the Abbotsford Community Foundation to hire a part-time Special Education Assistant, is critical. She says it can be a challenge to secure funding for professional teaching fees and staff because many granting foundations will not provide funds for those purposes.
BMA has shared the job posting for this teaching position on their website and social media. They are seeking a qualified, dedicated percussion musician, with a strong foundation in Orff and Kodály and a passion to create innovative percussion pieces with youth. Classes start in mid-September and run on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. The deadline to apply is Aug. 30, 2021.
“We are so thankful to the Clifford family for supporting BMA and local music by making this generous donation in memory of their beloved son, Devon, and his career as a drummer,” says Epp. “We are so grateful that through this donation we can ensure that the beat goes on.”
In addition to donating funds to BMA, the Devon Clifford Music Foundation also recently donated to Dormick Park Elementary and Gordie Howe Middle School, both of which are schools that some of BMA’s current students attend.
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