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Music teacher hits the right note

Allyson MacIvor wanted to honour the teacher she once told to “eff-off.” So she nominated him for an Excellence In Teaching Award.
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Allyson MacIvor wanted to honour the teacher she once told to “eff-off.” So she nominated him for an Excellence In Teaching Award.

Now Paul Kane music teacher Daryl Price is one of 20 winners of the provincial honour, thanks to a student he first helped in Grade 10.

“I was pretty anti-social and he taught me a lot of social skills,” said MacIvor, now a Grade 12 student who has been in Price’s music class for three years. She credits him with turning her life around.

“I was sleeping in English class in Grade 10, like, totally failing it,” she recalled. Price came along and insisted on setting up a meeting in his office.

“I was, like, Mr. Price, eff-off,” she said.

Despite her eye-rolling protests, they did meet, with Price demanding to know why she was “like this.” He offered to help.

“We talked a lot. It was just one of those moments,” MacIvor said. “He’s one of those people who is always looking to help the next person.”

Price helped MacIvor change her view of music — from strenuous activity to a coping mechanism and form of expression.

“I started enjoying music,” she said. “I started loving school because there was something to cope with the bad crap in life.”

Now the percussionist is set to pursue music studies at the University of Alberta, thanks to Price’s help with her audition.

Originally from Newfoundland, Price moved to Alberta in 2001 after earning bachelor degrees in both music and music education from Memorial University.

After starting out at Elmer S. Gish and Lorne Akins, he came to Paul Kane in 2004. He wrote the school’s popular pop and rock course and has mounted numerous ambitious musical productions.

Price is equally comfortable coaching choir, a jazz band, musical theatre production or a gritty garage band, said assistant principal Liane Madsen, who wrote a letter of commendation on Price’s behalf.

Price spends a lot of extra time tutoring, preparing students for auditions, organizing performances and band trips, she said. But his key strength is an ability to engage students.

“All different kinds of kids respect him and what he’s about. They respect his hard work and his passion,” Madsen said.

“He honours what students are passionate about and it matches his own passions. He has got an amazing rapport with kids. He makes learning music fun,” she said.

Teaching the course material is “almost secondary” to the personal side for modern teachers, Price said.

“The old days of indoctrinating students with information I think has gone to the wayside,” he said.

“Society is changing and our job as teachers is to make sure that students are able to fit into the real world when they leave here,” he said. “It’s more about educating kids as to what the world is really like out there.”

“My philosophy on teaching overall is that every child has potential and every child can be successful,” he added.

After three years as Price’s student, MacIvor views their relationship as having gone full circle.

“He went from being a teacher to being a friend to being an inspiration,” she said. “I wanted to give that back to him.”