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Teachers tuned in to music preservation

Two retired music teachers will have a music collection they compiled named in their honour.

The Cooper Smith Music Library Collection is being named after Eileen Cooper and Bonnie Smith. The two teachers have spent more than a decade compiling and labeling sheet music for choral, jazz, string, ukulele and winter festivals. The collection allows music teachers from throughout Victoria to borrow sheet music for their class at no cost.

Victoria Music Teachers Learning Specialists Association president Jennifer Hill said the two retired teachers donated a tremendous amount of time to compiling the collection while they were working as teachers and continued in their retirement. She said their colleagues wanted to recognize the two for their work.

“They have been tremendous supporters and advocates for music education in the school district,” Hill said. “They have volunteered countless hours setting it all up for us.”

Both Cooper and Smith feel honoured by the recognition and are proud of the work they have done.

“I was completely bowled over,” Cooper said, of the honour. “I never, ever, neither Bonnie and I, thought something like this would ever be the case.”

“The fact that this idea came from our colleagues who are using this collection … makes you feel pretty good,” Smith said. “To the people doing this for us, I want to say thank you. That’s a very special honour.”

The majority of sheet music cannot be photocopied due to copyright regulations, so original copies must be used. This can take a toll on a music teacher’s budget – if there is a budget – which is the main reason the collection was created.

“Budgets go cyclical,” Smith said. “Some years there is more money than in other years and that depends on how many students there are in the school system.”

Cooper started keeping a small library at Oak Bay High school in 1979 which has amassed into 60 filing cabinets full of sheet music today. The library has been housed at S.J. Willis since 2001.

“There was all this string music, piles and piles all mixed up,” Cooper said. “We used gloves because they were really gross, boxed them up and then sorted them.”

Cooper and Smith then started collecting sheet music at various music events for teachers, which were often given out for free. They then asked other schools and teachers to donate their collections so there would be complete sets for Victoria teachers to access each year, available from a central location.

Teachers accessing the library must provide a refundable deposit between $100 and $200 and make a sheet music donation each year to help expand the collection.

The formal naming of the collection is on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the District Resource Center at S.J. Willis.

 

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