Rituals are an important way of marking life’s milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. In the string class at Beatrice Strong, we have a special “ceremony” for our beginners when they have earned the privilege of taking their instruments home. This long-awaited rite of passage was initiated in the third year of our string program by one of our “alumni”, Jade Weller – one of the “Original Twelve” as I sometimes refer to the group who piloted our string group.
Each child is presented with a certificate acknowledging their ability to care for their instrument, and then one of the experienced players “dubs” them on the shoulder – as for a knight – using their bow. This is the ONLY time that bows are permitted to be used as “swords”, I might point out. Clearly, someone was paying attention during the Medieval Times unit in grade 4, although we do not require the novice players to kneel before the experienced ones!
The parallels to the process of knighthood for our beginner string players include period of serving as a “page” (remember the cardboard violins??), and then as “squires” – apprentices learning skills with the equipment, note reading, rehearsal etiquette, and respect for instructors. Even after they have been “dubbed” our young knights must continue to demonstrate their worthiness through personal practice in order to improve their individual abilities.
Another interesting connection to the aspect of “knighthood”, is the character traits of the Code of Chivalry which a knight was expected to uphold. Many of these same qualities can be found in our school codes of ethics: respect, perseverance, honesty, initiative, optimism, fairness. In the SONG string program, we have distilled these characteristics into four main “pillars” as follows:
1. We respect one another
2. We help each other
3. We work, sing, and play together
4. We try to do our best
These values fall into place in the string program in the way the students learn to support one another and work collectively and individually. These qualities are also modelled and encouraged by our amazing team of volunteers.
Congratulations to our new “String Knights”!
– Deborah Henderson,
Director of Strings