April 26, 2014 12:40 am

Marimba program at Vancouver school in jeopardy

It’s not exactly the best of times for the music program at Charles Dickens Elementary.

The school has a unique marimba program, where over 300 students play the large, wooden, xylophone-like instruments each year.

WATCH: Students at Charles Dickens perform “Embryonic Journey”

But the program may become a victim of its own success. Because of booming enrollment, the room dedicated to the instruments is being taken back for classroom space. The instruments take up a lot of space. And so, the question of where students will practice next year is very much up in the air.

“A portable is an ideal place for marimbas because the sound carries,” says Anne-Marie Long, a parent at Charles Dickens.

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“We’re looking for a re-purposed portable. It’s a one-time expense, and though the expense will be costly up front, it won’t incur anything for years to come.”

According to Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus, it’s not so simple. Moving a portable is a costly exercise – $75,000 by the school board’s estimation – and the district is facing a $12 million budget shortfall this year.

MORE: Parents in Vancouver rally to save school district’s music programs

“There’s a number of challenges with this situation where we’re in a pretty tough spot,” she says.

“We’re still looking to provide this program within the school itself.”

Parents are hopeful a unique solution can be found for a unique instrumental program.

“They can all perform at different part of their own skill level, at their own ability,” says Long.

“They can mentor each other, they can learn from each other. [The marimba is] very collaborative, very much about teaching one another.”

- With files from Jill Bennett

© Shaw Media, 2014

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