What do we do?
Maybe you're interested in music education. Want to see what we do? Well, read on!

Compumedia is a term coined by Russ Brown, to describe the development of a multimedia approach of monitoring, instructing, and evaluating music students. Evolving from both teacher and student needs, the system employs a variety of media technologies including the computer, video cameras, monitors, CD-ROM, keyboard, stereo system and VHS recorders. The uniqueness of this innovation lies not in the individual technologies but in the integration of music instruction, multimedia and computer technologies into a workable whole.

Compumedia allows individual, small, and large group instruction, practice, and evaluation to occur simultaneously in different locations under the guidance of one teacher. It has evolved to allow individual students to take control of the pace, the type, and the style of their learning, while the teacher is provided with a clear and accurate means of monitoring, interacting, and guiding the learning process.


This is Mr. Brown's Speech to the Canadian Teacher's Federation General Assembly, July 12 - Halifax, Nova Scotia or otherwise called
"Mr. Brown's Opus"


Three days ago on Saratoga Beach, Vancouver Island, I gazed out over the sand, watched deer feeding on salt flats, and heard the laughter of children as they built sand castles in tribute to knights of old. In awe of grandeur and the work of God, reverent of the simplicity in nature, I was humbled.

As I accept the Hilroy Award, I am reminded of the many teachers and students I have had the pleasure of working with in my eighteen years of teaching. I recognize that the lessons they have taught are as long lasting as the sun, the sand and the tides. They too are endless, invaluable, and complex in their simplicity. As I stand in awe before you, being recognized by my peers, I am humbled.

The creations of nature are not built in one day and the project for which my friend and colleague, Philip Headley, and I are now being recognized did not evolve over a year but rather three years. Without the continued support, love, and faith of my wife, Carol, and my son, Garrett, the vision would have become clouded many years ago. I thank them.

This project was recognized during an unsettled time at Bedford Road Collegiate where Philip and I teach. Over the last year, we have had two changes in administrative leadership. I therefore wish to recognize the contributions of my previous principal, Dennis Ens, and my present principal and vice principal, Karen Morris and Hugh Kurz. I would also like to recognize the contributions of our system director, Mrs. Pat Dickson.

The staff of Bedford Road Collegiate has coped on a daily basis with a 5 million dollar renovation begun a year ago and completed this spring. Those of you who have lived through a school renovation will identify with the sound of jack hammers and drills buzzing near your ears as they break through walls; confusion, excitement, and anticipation abound as change evolves around you. For their support, humor, and perseverance under duress, I wish to express my appreciation to the Bedford Road Collegiate staff.

Throughout our schools across all of Canada, teachers are working quietly, patiently, and ceaselessly to educate the youth of Canada. Their work often goes unnoticed. I would like to thank the Canadian Teacher Federation and the Hilroy Foundation for recognizing the work completed by Philip, myself, and others. Teachers are by nature a caring and modest group. They take pleasure from the simplicity of their rewards -- an unexpected hug from a child, the light of understanding in the eye of an adolescent, or a spontaneous "thanks" or a nod from a high school senior. The support the Hilroy Foundation provides through the awards it gives encourages and leads to the sharing of innovations made by teachers across our nation. I thank them for their recognition of the leadership teachers provide.

Compumedia is a word we coined to describe a multimedia approach to the instruction of music, band, choir, and guitar. The project began with the theft of a flute. This flute is symbolic of an underlying principle that is reflected in our project.

In terms of monetary loss, the flute was significant but not devastating. In terms of a change of thinking for Philip and myself, the loss of this flute was as revolutionary as the invention of the computer.

The theft of the flute led to the purchasing of our first video cameras, followed quickly by a computer. We soon discovered technology to be an effective means by which instruction and evaluation of individual students could be completed. Inadvertently, technology became the tool by which a loss was turned into a educational gain. Further technological tools were purchased by funds no longer used to replace lost equipment. Software, hardware, a big screen projector, and a sound system were fused with music instruction. This drastically changed the approach and type of instruction and educational opportunities we offered students at Bedford Road. This fusion of technologies and music became a shared vision. Students took the seat of the pilot, sweeping Compumedia in new directions and increasing the speed with which we adapted, manipulated, and changed the technologies. Philip and I have assumed the role of air traffic controllers within Bedford Road International Airport. The project continues to evolve as we move into the areas of authoring of curriculum and resource development. Our newest vision is to produce interactive educational applications to be used with the Compumedia system. Phillip and I would enjoy providing more detail about the project when we meet you individually. What I would liketo do, is to take this opportunity to share with you some of the theories that encouraged the development of the Compumedia system.

The teaching of band for myself and my colleagues involves loss. We lose when our class sizes are only limited by the size of the room, leading to a fifty to one or higher pupil-teacher ratio. We lose when we are told to prepare for further staffing cutbacks and at the same time are being told, because of our skyrocketing enrollments, that we are doing "too good of a job". We can, however, take these losses and make an investment, which I believe is the underlying principle represented by the stolen flute.

As a beach appears to disappear when the tide rises, we feel a natural loss for the now hidden sand. The very sand we relished, and to some degree, took for granted. Anger, fear, complaint, and remorsefulness at the changes teachers now face is as ineffective as regret that the tide has turned. The changing conditions under which we now teach, however, must become the impetus for a new investment. We must teach and learn, move and work in completely different ways fusing with technological and social changes. The energy we do not waste in non-productive ways will give us the strength, the courage, and the vision to become effective innovators, creators, and precipitators of change.

Teachers must not only teach students but themselves to understand that change is not loss, but only a change in tide. If teachers invest in loss by preparing to enjoy the beach or a new activity, instead of feeling anger or fear at the change, their investments will pay unanticipated dividends for students.

Creative people, I believe, do not have different experiences or work conditions than you or I do. A musician does not hear more distinctive sounds. A painter does not see a more colourful sunset. The differences lie in the way a creative person perceives the world around them. Innovative educators often see a difficult situation in unusual and positive ways. The innovator looks for opportunities; they think in terms of opposites. What appears to be devastating on the surface can be a pearl in an oyster. While some are fearful or remorseful of change, the innovator embraces and sees windows of opportunities, not locked doors. The innovator looks to the empty spaces and fills them with their ideas for a new future.

Technology is one such space for opportunity. Many educators recognize that technology is not without its flaws, its frustrations, and its limitations. Some educators take control of the technology, embrace it, and tease out its strengths to be used for educational gain. Fewer still, change technology to meet their educational needs.

While developing Compumedia, it became apparent we needed a mouse on a thirty foot cable. We were told over and over again by computer and technological experts that a thirty foot mouse cannot be built. It will not work. Compumedia has a working thirty foot mouse, designed and built by a University of Saskatchewan audio visual technician. At our request, he took a chance and manipulated the technology until it met our needs.

I believe the development and use within our schools of technology or, for that matter, any other tool within our society is only limited by the doors we as educators create. The Greek said, "For whom the gods would destroy, they will first make proud." By using this theory of investment in loss and seeking opportunities in adversity, we can rewrite history saying, ''For whom the gods would make proud, they will first destroy.''

Thank you for recognizing our innovative look at an educational situation, our fusion of instruction and technology, and our investment in loss. As I accept this award and your recognition, I am humbled.


Here is Mr. Headley's speech on the
Hilroy Award

Mr. President - family members of the Roy C Hill Foundation, co-winners, honored guests - ladies and gentlemen

 It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here today to receive this award.  I accept it in all modesty, humility, and gratitude.  I am truly blessed.  Let me recall for you an incident during the month of March.  I am responsible for arranging anything audio-visual at Bedford Road Collegiate.  We had just recently finished an audio-visual presentation for the grade 8 students who may want to come to Bedford Road.  Our Principal, in planning for the Grand Re-opening of Bedford (we had been undergoing an extensive renovation) had requested almost the same type of audio-visual presentation but with a totally different beginning; that is to say - to present the school from top to bottom - old to new - from the beginning of the renovations to their completion - nothing special - just take about 150 more slides - have them developed - arrange them in the proper order with the appropriated music - all in three weeks........... and at the same time, teach four classes!!!!!!!!!!!

 As the media team began working, we had great problems in finding the right music.  Two former students who always help me with media projects suggested a variety of music including Yanni.  I recall this incident not only to illustrate the extended family atmosphere that we share at Bedford, but also to highlight the cooperative nature of the way we operate in tackling musical theater, audio-visual presentations, BRIT - an international Basketball Tournament, or a multimedia project like Compumedia.  From one of Yanni's CD's I heard this quotation that I though appropriate for the occasion.

  In a dramatic reading by Orson Wells, he states:
 "I am absorbed with a delicate thought, it is how poetry has indefinite   sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of  sweet sound is our most indefinite conception.  Music when combined with a  pleasurable idea is poetry.  Music without the idea is simply music.  Without  music or an intriguing idea, colour becomes pallor, man becomes carcass,  home becomes catacomb....."

 Well, I know we have nothing to fear because my colleague Russ Brown an accomplished musician, with intriguing ideas such as Compumedia has totally involved his students in studying Music in fascinating and innovative ways.  Hence, we shall always have music in our lives.  Permit me to take this opportunity to publicly thank Russ Brown for is genius, generosity, and graciousness in sharing his special moment in the sun with me.  Two of his favorite expressions are ''Investing in loss'', and ''fusion''. He has invested in many young minds as he provides opportunities for their hands-on approach to problem-solving and has fused many an idea by allowing students freedom to extend Compumedia far beyond its initial scope.

 Nevertheless, none of this could have been possible without the consistent support and solid backing of our Principal, Karen Morris, as well as the benevolent wisdom of our Director of Education, Pat Dickson, who instantly saw the kernel of an exceptional idea and immediately offered her encouragement.  We thank them most sincerely.

 Quite naturally, too, I must return to my roots to thank my parents and family for guidance, and my teachers - like Bessie Walcott - in Barbados, for their vision and encouragement.  For never would I have dreamed that the son of a simple plantation chauffeur would win any awards in his homeland far less in a distant land.  I am truly blessed!!!!  When I phoned my eldest brother in Barbados to tell him of my good fortune in receiving a trip to Halifax for this award, as ever my teacher and mentor, he reminded me of the historicity of the occasion.

 Some centuries ago, a bridge had been established by traders between the Caribbean and the East Coast.  Canada sent salt cod and Barbados reciprocated with molasses, sugar, and rum.  Now the molasses has arrived in human form having been crystallized.

 Roy C. Hill had an intriguing idea... He wanted to do something for the benefit of children and teachers in Canada.  Using Compumedia and Russ Brown's idea of fusion, would it not be wonderful in this global village that is instantly connected by INTERNET, if through the use of this modern technology my old school in Barbados could be the beneficiary too of whatever recognition we relieve today.  Perhaps initiating a teacher exchange for a neophyte Barbadian aspiring to tread similar paths from the humble origins in St. John (my parish in Barbados), to Halifax as the traders did several centuries ago.

 I know that the idea of exchange is not new.  Indeed, my eldest brother had arranged an Army Cadet exchange between Barbados and Canada at Camp Farnum in Quebec.  But with Compumedia we could easily share Distance Education.  This is perhaps one of the future possibilities of Compumedia.  I would be remiss if I did not thank the Hilroy Foundation for providing this award - the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and the selection committee of CTF for choosing our project,  and Canada for welcoming me as an immigrant, allowing me the opportunity to study at U of T, providing me the chance to earn a living, help my family, and affording me the occasion to add in some small way to the annals of educational thought in this wonderful and marvelous country!!  I am indeed fortunate!! God Keep our Land Glorious and Free.

Thank you Canada!
May I be permitted to leave you with this thought liberally borrowed from Yanni: Everything great that has ever happened to humanity since the beginning, has begun as a single thought in someone's mind and if anyone of us is capable of such a great thought then all of us has the same capacity - capability - because we are all the same.