Community / Press Release

Rosemount High School launches much-anticipated Arts-études program

ribbon cutting
Montreal - Friday, February 16, 2024

Rosemount High School (3737 Beaubien) will  inaugurate  its new Arts-études program, the first-of-its-kind amongst English high schools in Quebec on Thursday, February 15 (10:30 am) as part of Hooked on School Week. A total of 165 students across all grade levels (Secondary I to V) are taking part in the five-year program this academic year, with music now playing an integral part of the students’ daily class schedules.  

group picture

“It is about giving a holistic study in music, theory and practice,” said Anthony Cooperwood, Director of Bands at Rosemount High School, who is in his seventh year at the school. “We start from the very beginning. You will learn what a scale or a whole note is, and what the different keys are. From there, we will teach you how to read those elements and how to perform them on the instrument that you have selected. Students sometimes come here with no musical experience. We teach you everything.”

RHS music group

While music instruction has long been a staple at Rosemount, the introduction of the much-anticipated Arts-Études program allows for music to be incorporated throughout the school day, as opposed to strictly after-school as a 75-minute extra-curricular course between 3 pm and 4:15 pm. Music classes are now interspersed throughout the day, with students having as many as three for-credit music courses in a single day.

“Under the Arts-études program, we are asking the government for permission to allot a certain number of minutes throughout the school year,” said Mr. Cooperwood. “Under a regular music program, you can see the students, but for very short amounts of time. The Arts-études program makes it all possible.”

stage from the event

The music courses occur in non-traditional classroom settings, such as dedicated band rooms, a percussion studio and on the auditorium stage. All students are assigned their own instrument at the start of the school year, which is theirs to keep and maintain for the duration of the academic calendar. Such instruments include flutes, trombones, trumpets, tubas, clarinets and oboes, among others.

RHS music group on the stage

“We keep our stock current,” said Mr. Cooperwood, who works closely with longtime school music teacher Debbie Best. “We take care of our horns. The instruments in the program receive regular maintenance throughout the year.”

Rosemount High’s pre-existing extra-curricular music programs, such as junior and senior jazz bands, are also continuing. The school’s popular performance ensemble group “Class Act” is also back for its second year. The group, made up of a small group of senior-level students, was the brainchild of Mr. Cooperwood as he sought to create a student band “with a professional touch” that would embody what is being taught at school. The group performs a variety of music, from classic hits to wedding songs.

Last year, Class Act performed at multiple school events such as Open House and graduation as well as at the EMSB’s Commissioner Holiday Luncheon and other corporate events, such as a 50th surprise birthday party, the 50th anniversary of the Comité de Gestion de la taxe scolaire de l’île de Montréal and model Aiesha Robinson’s Born to Rise event, among others. 

“I call it the ‘hit and get’ squad,” said Mr. Cooperwood. “It’s a small, tight unit. We set up, perform our material, and then we ‘get.’ I know what I want it to sound like and I know what I can make sound good with these kids. They are able to perform the songs that I give them and they can make a living doing that. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to give to all the students in our school.”

Mr. Cooperwood credits  Principal Lino Buttino for continuously supporting the program, including providing funding for transportation to and from events as well as helping set up the infrastructure necessary for a successful program as well as Ms. Best, a music teacher at the school for 27 years.

“It takes all three of us to get the whole thing going,” he said. “I’ve got spark and fire, Debbie has the administrative experience and the know-how, Mr. Buttino has the power and the strings. The three of us working together allow us to make this whole thing happen.”

Another popular element of the program are the various trips and outings, funded in large part by the school’s Music Parents Association. Rosemount has taken its music students to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as on visits to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Walt Disney World in Orlando and to Ottawa to play for a judge.

Mr. Cooperwood says the new ministerial Arts-études designation will have trickle-down effects on students, beyond increased instruction time and credits. He won’t be teaching English or Ethics & Religious Culture (ERC) courses anymore, instead devoting his time and energy strictly to music instruction. A third music teacher, Cordell Henebury, was also brought on this year to supplement the work of Mr. Cooperwood and Ms. Best. Music coaches are also available to students to work with students one-on-one, when needed.  He also notes the positive impact the program has on students, beyond the musical components.

“We teach you how to be someplace on time, how to carry out your tasks with quality and excellence, how to follow something through until the very end,” he said. “I’m going to teach you how to be a mentor so you can be a manager and a leader. They are transferable skills you can use in all walks of life. I teach you music in order to teach you about life.”

See this report on CBC TV:

About Mr. Cooperwood

Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Cooperwood would go on to study at Truman State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music and Piano  Performance, as well as a Master’s of Arts in Music Education. He would later work for the university as director of recruitment for students of color.

“I grew up in a strong high school band program with strong band directors that really shaped my directions forward in music,” said Mr. Cooperwood. “They introduced me to performing jazz and playing in jazz bands. I played piano in jazz band, flute in the symphony band and bass drum in the marching drumline.

Mr. Cooperwood next moved to New York City as he pursued a professional career as a pianist. He joined Cirque du Soleil in 2001, touring across North America and Europe with the group for eight years as part of its Dralion production, on which he served as the keyboard and bass player, as well as backup conductor.

Seeking a change of pace, Mr. Cooperwood moved to Montreal where he put his teaching degree to good use. He began at General Vanier Elementary School before ultimately joining Rosemount High School’s music department seven years ago.

“I like Montreal because it was the closest thing to living in Europe, but in North America,” he said. “It’s almost like living in a European city, but I get all the flavors of being here at home. This is similar to where I grew up.”

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

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