Saint James Music Academy

About the organization

Saint James Music Academy (SJMA) believes in the power of music to change lives. Music uplifts and inspires, and yet much more: it builds self-esteem in the learner, it teaches values, it binds people together in a shared objective, and it promotes positive social change. SJMA provides children with a rich and challenging opportunity. Through the pursuit of musical excellence, our children are inspired to continue on a path full of promise. Our innovative program specifically engages at-risk and underserved children who live in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and Eastside communities. The Downtown Eastside is largely a low-income neighbourhood, with the attendant social problems: unemployment, poor living conditions, crime, and substance abuse. Poverty also contributes to individual isolation, limited opportunity, and lack of self-esteem. Children and youth who live in such conditions are vulnerable to larger social forces. Driven to places of separation and sometimes despair, they often develop negative peer orientation and destructive lifestyle choices. It is essential therefore that the emotional and intellectual needs of the child be met with new social dynamics. We may not be able to elevate the child’s family income, but by elevating their expectations for a better future, and their community engagement, we may empower that child to transform his or her own future, and the future of their family.

At SJMA children are given a rare opportunity: to change their destiny, one step, one music lesson, at a time. In our free after-school program children learn: to gain self-confidence, and discover the wealth of their own potential.  They also learn important social skills, such as teamwork and collaboration, gratitude and sharing, respect of the other, and mutual praise, skills that are proven to support and improve academic and other intellectual abilities. In the end, our hope is that they become role models for their peers, and even to their own families, breaking the cycles of familial disengagement, failure and poverty.

What you'll do

Walking School Bus

  • Meet children as they leave Strathcona Elementary School
  • Help co-lead (with one other adult) a small group of children as they walk
  • Help them safely navigate the neighbourhood streets from their school to SJMA (a 4-block walk)

Nutrition Program 

  • Work together with our Nutrition Coordinator and other volunteers to prepare and serve hundreds of creative and healthy meals to the students at SJMA
  • Process incoming food donations to be preserved and stored for use in upcoming meals

Music Class Assistant

  • Work alongside classroom music teachers assisting with choir, orchestra, theory, or group instrument classes based on your musical abilities
  • Helping setup and put away before and after each class
  • If interested and capable, working one-on-one with students providing music lessons on a focus instrument

Operations and/or Reception Assistant

  • Work alongside the Operations Manager to ensure the smooth operations of the program
  • Helping setup and put away before and after the program
  • Helping students get to and from their different classes
  • Assisting with instrument needs if students forget their instruments
  • Providing coverage and spelling off other staff at the reception desks

What you’ll get out of this experience

Walking School Bus

  • Build meaningful relationships with the kids as you walk & talk with them
  • Learn about managing groups of children and ensuring their safety
  • Build a comfort level navigating the streets of a marginalized community

Nutrition Program 

  • Joy in seeing kids who face nutritional concerns being well fed

  • Experience cooking creatively and improvising with food

  • Experience working with a diverse group of people

Music Class Assistant

  • First-hand classroom teaching experience (group and solo)
  • Sharing in the joy of musical learning and performance
  • Building relationships with students

Operations and/or Reception Assistant

  • Awareness of the logistics of running a successful non-profit
  • Building relationships with students
  • Developing empathic gatekeeping skills in a unique context

Requirements

Must complete a Criminal Record Check.

Qualifications

Walking School Bus

  • No music skills needed :D
  • Experience and or comfort working with groups of children

Nutrition Program 

  • No music skills needed :D
  • Experience and/or love for food
  • Experience working with children

Music Class Assistant

  • Musical Literacy (note reading)
  • Music instrument proficiency (Strings, woodwinds, brass, percussions, voice, piano)

Operations and/or Reception Assistant

  • No music skills needed :D
  • Physically fit and able to move tables, chairs, music stands
  • Warm, friendly, articulate, and quick on your feet

Scheduling

Walking School Bus

  • Mondays             2:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Tuesdays            2:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Wednesdays      2:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Thursdays           2:30pm – 3:30pm

(At least one day per week)

Nutrition Program 

  • Mondays             1:30pm – 4:30pm
  • Tuesdays            1:30pm – 4:30pm
  • Wednesdays      1:30pm – 4:30pm
  • Thursdays           1:30pm – 4:30pm

(At least one day per week)

Music Class Assistant

  • Mondays             3:30pm – 6:15pm
  • Tuesdays            3:30pm – 6:15pm
  • Wednesdays      3:30pm – 6:15pm
  • Thursdays           3:30pm – 6:15pm 

(At least one day per week)

Operations and/or Reception Assistant

  • Mondays             2:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Tuesdays            2:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Wednesdays      2:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Thursdays           2:30pm – 6:30pm 

(At least one day per week)