High school is a time when people often dream about graduation, moving away from home and pursuing studies at University. So much so that we sometimes forget to take a step back and consider how we can make a positive change right where we are at home. This was the focus of the recent Youth4Music symposium held at Cape Breton University and led by the team in partnership with music student Melanie Maillot.

Having no previous experience with the Coalition, Melanie stepped up to assist with the planning and leadership component of the event. Daya Madhur from the University of Alberta led an interactive workshop on polyrhythms and Dr. Heather Sparling, an ethnomusicologist, gave a presentation about studying music at the postsecondary level. Students brought instruments to play and improvise together. Throughout the day, students collaborated in the form of jam sessions, group discussions and workshops. All in all, it was an engaging opportunity for everyone involved.

When reflecting on the symposium, the most inspiring part for Melanie was seeing a change in mindset for the students. Many, who are considering leaving the area after high school, came into the event questioning why and how they would make a difference in their own schools and communities. It quickly became apparent through discussions that if we work collectively to initiate positive change, it can last far into the future. Students discussed their wishes for more sustainable music programs and improvements in schools.

For Melanie and the other students, this is not necessarily the end of their involvement with the Coalition. Many of the 20 attendees have expressed interest in working with the Youth4Music network on projects such as Music Monday and future symposiums. The goal is to empower youth across the country to make a difference!