Music For More Children

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The “More Music for More Children” concert at Barrie’s Central United Church will feature some wonderful music and a chance to connect with people from organizations that are doing something to make music instruction accessible to more children. The OMA’s “No Student Left Out” will be among those organizations represented.

One of our new members, Sandra Ruttan, talks about this event…

A letter from Sandra…





Dear Fellow Musicians, Music Teachers, and Music lovers,

You and I know there is nothing more wonderful than those moments when people make music to together…I mean, really make music. Whether it’s a fast and energetic piece that gets listeners moving and tapping and dancing….or whether it’s slow and quiet and spell-binding, causing listeners to become still and attentive.

You and I know these moments of flow and synchronicity and connection are truly magical and trans-formative. And you and I know that they are an ample reward for the hours of practice and attention to detail that make them possible. We know how wonderful making music is, and how much potential there is to make a positive, qualitative difference in the lives of children and, by extension, their families, through providing them with the opportunity to develop real musical skills.

But, sadly, many people do not realize this. And very sadly, many children do not get a chance to discover this for themselves….even though current research substantiates the claim that high-quality musical training, especially from a young age, is very good for the brain, and therefore for all the cognitive skills that help a child become a strong learner…that which enables success in other areas of life as well.

For this reason, I feel very passionately that all children should have the opportunity to discover and develop their ability to be musical, especially children who may have few other advantages. All children should have access to quality music instruction that helps them steadily and incrementally develop very real, applicable, and transferable skills.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. And I know that the more children have the opportunity to experience music-making in a meaningful and skill-building way, the more children will choose to pursue engagement with music for the long term, whether it be through taking private lessons, taking advantage of our excellent (but unfortunately, generally shrinking) high school music programs, or by simply becoming much more attentive, appreciative, sensitive and informed listeners to the music of others.

It is theorized that musical ability is innate, like language, and, like language, has played an important role in the evolution of human beings. But like language, if a child is given no chance to develop it, it is stunted or even completely lost.

I, personally, believe that music-making still has an important role to play in our evolution. I believe making music together helps us reach our potential as individuals and as social, communal creatures. More children doing more music can only be good for them, their families, the musical community and, by extension, the broader community too.

So I am asking for your support in helping to make such an opportunity available in Barrie.

It can happen.

There is a music education movement that is spreading throughout the world because it’s just that good. It’s called El Sistema and it started in Venezuela about 35 years ago. It is an inclusive program offered for free to any child who wants to participate….and it has become huge.

If you haven’t heard much about it, google “El Sistema” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s even spreading here in Canada. At the end of this letter you will find a list of El Sistema based or inspired organizations…each one offering free music instruction to children and youth. Take a moment to check some of them out.

Over and over you will read of people who believe that music makes a difference…and that quality music instruction makes a very real difference in the lives of children and in their communities. I think that Barrie children deserve that option too. And I believe that if it can happen elsewhere, then it can happen here. We, the music community and can make it happen.

Currently I know of three initiatives in the Barrie area to get free music instruction programs started. (If there are more, then I apologize for leaving anyone out.) The Ontario Musician’s Association is working on starting a program called “No Student Left Out” which would entail free group music instruction for children.

A group in the Midland area called Sistema Huronia is about to launch a free, group string program next fall. And Grace United Church, working with me, is currently offering a low-cost summer music camp (HighCCC Summer Music) and a free, weekly group music program (HighCCC Rhythm and Pitch.)

If we come together as a community to support these initiatives, some or all of them will flourish…and something very special will develop for the children of our community. And what they get from it, they will give back. That’s why more music for more children is good for everyone.

So how can you help?

Join the conversation and find out. Consider attending the June 21 “More Music for More Children” concert (poster attached) at Central United Church. At this concert you will not only enjoy some wonderful music, but you will also have a chance to connect with people from the organizations that are doing something to make more music instruction accessible to more children.

Meet representatives from El Sistema Huronia and “No Student Left Out.” Hear guest speaker, Ashley Dickey, talk about the free after-school music program that she runs in London.

Look up “Brio Music” and imagine something like that happening here, in Barrie. We can make that happen. Proceeds from the concert (and two others that are planned) will go toward creating a bursary fund to send some children to summer music camp for free, and/or toward buying instruments for, and funding, the free weekly music group at Grace United Church. It’s the start of something that could be much, much more.

More music for more children. It’s good for all of us.

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