One teacher, a family of ten, and how MYC touched their lives forever
Charlene Dubrule, MYC teacher in Coquitlam, BC, has been teaching Music for Young Children for 21 years. In 1999 Charlene was making a big change in her family, by moving from Alberta to British Columbia. Revisiting this time has Charlene filed with emotion. Her children were then ages 10 and 13, and she was applying to study Music Therapy at Capilano University in Vancouver. Prior to this and to teaching MYC, Charlene was enrolled in the local college studying early childhood, music, small business and teaching piano and voice lessons privately, but she found herself drawn to music therapy. “If I find something I love and am passionate about, I won’t let anyone knock me down!”
Her determination served her very well. After applying and auditioning to the program in 2001, she was not accepted. “They did not accept me because they felt the program would be too much for me since I had two children.” The decision did not sit right with Charlene, so she took the next step toward a resolution. “I appealed it and won.”
The beginnings of Charlene’s career with MYC is inextricably tied to her time at Capilano University, when she began the Music Therapy program against all odds. “I am so grateful for the nurturing from Frances, and now Olivia, and MYC. Teaching this program allowed me to sustain my income while I pursued my education. I would take my classes all week, and then teach Friday night and all day Saturday. Yes, it was busy, but I learned and grew so much through teaching.”
Looking back, Charlene wouldn’t have changed a thing. “Our job is very important. All these young people coming to us, trying to figure out what they want to do with their life—we can encourage and nurture them.”
Meeting the Palit-ang Family
In 2013, Charlene met 8 year old Noelle Palit-ang, and her parents, Joel and Erfe, when they signed up to be in her MYC class. Soon Charlene would discover that there were seven more children in the family, three having already graduated from MYC, and the remaining who would one day too come to her music class.
“They are such a happy family,” Charlene declares. “It’s like they’re the eight notes of a musical scale.” While eight children in a family is unique by today’s standard, what’s even more unique is their love of and dedication to music. “They have never been forced to do music. They come prepared for every class. There is no competitiveness. They encourage one another.”
While seemingly natural, this love and prioritizing of music exists as part of Erfe’s believe that music education should come first. Charlene tells us, “Erfe told me that in an education seminar she attended, the speaker said that above anything else, music should be taught at an early age because it plays a major role in connecting left-right brain functions and improves cognitive abilities.”
Mother Erfe Palit-ang has been educating her eight children for 16 years. She found out about MYC from a friend who also had children enrolled.
Now, Erfe loves and highly recommends MYC to other families. “The children receive a strong musical foundation by being exposed to musical theory, music history, ensemble work, singing, ear training, piano techniques, and composition. I love that they are given the opportunity to explore a variety of musical styles.”
Erfe says that with Charlene, “the class atmosphere is relaxed – no undue pressure or stress.”
One of the biggest factors to success in the MYC program is parental support. Every child attends class with a parent or guardian present, and the support is expected to continue at home during practice and review of each week’s material.
“I love that parents get to learn alongside & support their children - bonding with their kids. I feel having the parents and children together creates a sense of community.”
Charlene’s teaching encapsulates what MYC calls “The MYC Way,” teaching in a multi-sensory format using age appropriate methods, such as engaging characters and story telling. As a mother and an educator, Erfe notices these core tenants in action. “I love how the teaching style incorporates story-telling because I find it works best for memory retention.”
MYC also teaches composing at every level. “Composing allows children to express themselves,“ says Charlene. “I like when they have the problem of not being able to get all of their ideas out fast enough. It’s a good problem to have!”
For over 21 years, Charlene has had the privilege of meeting and teaching so many families, but the Palit-ang family has a very special place in her heart. Recognizing the financial challenges a large family faces, and wanting to reward their dedication, Charlene decdied to teach one child tuition free, and applied to MYC for a scholarship in order to put their last child through the program.
As a result, Mirelle (7), the youngest of the clan, was recently awarded a full scholarship to attend classes this year with Charlene. MYC provided all materials at no cost as part of the Wes Hindle Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a child in need when the teacher is offering the course tuition-free. The scholarship was founded in Memory of Wes Hindle, the founder’s father, and now President Olivia Riddell’s grandfather, who was very supportive of music education and believed all children should be exposed to music education no matter their circumstance.
MYC also provided a scholarship to Hiro (8) when he was being taught by MYC teacher Ming Xuan Chung (now in Surrey, BC) in 2017. Charlene, a personal friend of Ming Xuan, encouraged him become an MYC teacher in the first place. This was Ming Xuan’s first year of teaching MYC, so to give up some of his income and to teach Hiro for free, has never gone unnoticed by Charlene or the Palit-ang family.
“She has been extremely supportive of our family and has gone out of her way to ensure our kids had every opportunity to learn even when our finances were tight,” says Erfe.
5 MYC graduates in the family
After graduating from the MYC program, the Palit-Ang’s five eldest children are continuing their musical journey in several ways. Eldest, Josah, (now 21) was 8 years old when he began MYC classes in 2006. He is now a pianist for their church’s worship team.
- Eliseo (18) has composed his own pieces, was the accompanying pianist at the family’s church's Christmas program, is the accompanying pianist for daily devotions and is currently learning electric guitar.
- Seth (16) branched out to learn the clarinet.
- Noelle (14) and Helena (12) continue to learn new piano pieces regularly and are applying their musical knowledge to their online Fine Arts coursework.
- Hiro, Jude (age 10) and Mirelle, are the last children left in the program. Just like the other siblings, Charlene says they are a joy to teach. “Mirelle smiles through the whole class and can’t wait for music next week!”
“I feel that MYC is accessible to all students and not only to those who are 'gifted' in music - students of different levels can both learn and enjoy the skill,” Erfe says.
Over seven years of the parent and teacher relationship, Erfe has a lot to say about Charlene. “Charlene is very enthusiastic, passionate, caring, allowing for the full potential of students, very knowledgeable & has a wealth of experience from which to draw from.”
For Charlene, the admiration is mutual. “Music has been their ‘grounding’ place. They have been a pleasure to teach, and are so aware of their environment and have respect for everyone.”
What comes next?
For the Palit-angs, music will always be a part of their lives. And MYC will continue to offer the Wes Hindle scholarships to deserving children.
Charlene is teaching her 21st year of MYC. She continues to see her role as a music teacher as a very nurturing one. “It is a very confusing world for children. As MYC stays in its foundation, I see it growing, not only in Canada but also abroad. I see a need for MYC. It is not something we should allow to be ‘put into a box.’”