Gordon Head middle school music teacher Andrea Blair receives her Great Teachers award from Staples Tolmie Avenue store general manager Don Routeliffe.

GREAT TEACHERS: Andrea Blair honoured for her middle school efforts

Gordon Head middle school developed unique colour-coded sheet music system for dyslexic student

Andrea Blair is big on accepting her students as they are.

The music director at Gordon Head middle school, who also teaches elementary strings programs at Torquay, has developed an atmosphere of teaching and learning in which her students thrive.

“In my music room, a lot of kids consider it a safe place and feel they can really step out of their comfort zone,” she says. “They can develop that love of music. I’ll find kids who are not academically strong in here and they shine.”

Blair, who finished off her 19th year with the baton with a Great Teachers middle school honour, does her best to create a positive space without a lot of pressure to perform. “I’m not necessarily looking over their shoulder saying ‘do it this way or that way.’”

Doing things creatively has helped her attract much of the student body at Gordon Head to the band, strings and choir programs. Almost two-thirds – about 200 students – by her calculation.

“Music is cool. We’re definitely seeing an increase in participation.”

Asked how she gauges her own success, she first looks at the overall picture – “How did the band or the orchestra sound today or my ukulele class?” – then she considers individuals, as in, “Hey, that kid improvised today for the first time.”

Her creativity helped her solve a puzzle a few years back when faced with a Grade 6 dyslexic student who dearly wanted to play, but could not decipher sheet music.

She developed a unique colour-coded system whereby her student, now in Grade 8, could play his clarinet along with the rest of the band. The system has since seen Blair become a finalist for a national teaching award.

What former teacher was your inspiration? – “Mr. Creswick (Grade 6 band, Northern Alberta). He was the one that inspired me and supported me in everything I did in music. We remained friends for 28 years. Ironically, I’m teaching in the neighbourhood he grew up in. I’ve taught students whose parents were in the same band he was in at Mount Doug.”

Just Posted

UPDATED: Oak Bay father takes stand, denies killing young daughters

Andrew Berry has plead not guilty to the December 2017 deaths of his two daughters

Relative of man found dead in Saanich says he was missing for years

RCMP and a private detective had been searching for him since 2012

Man who killed Langford teen attended her memorial service, demonstrates little remorse

Parole Board of Canada documents reveal factors in parole decision

Saanich Police warn of counterfeit money being used

Several fake $100 bills have been reported in Greater Victoria

Victoria police seek help finding ‘high risk’ missing woman

Brown, 30, is described as an Indigenous woman standing five feet, six inches tall, weighing 170 pounds

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

Island manslaughter suspect found not guilty in Supreme Court

Court accepts accused’s argument of self-defence for 2017 incident in Courtenay

Most Read