Where extreme poverty inclines youth to crime in Venezuela, some might see despair and a society bound to failure.  Yet, Dr. Abreu didn’t lose faith. With the firm belief that music has enough power to bring communities together, he created El Sistema, an orchestra program, in 1975.  Dr. Abreu’s initiative has since inspired musicians in several countries to do the same.  Becoming a good citizen through music lessons is an effective solution to building a solid future for underserved youth.  This is what inspired Tina Fedeski, Gary McMillen and Margaret Tobolowska to found OrKidstra, a music program in Ottawa similar to El Sistema.

The first time I heard about OrKidstra was through another piano student and friend while we were both studying at University of Ottawa a few years ago.  The organization was looking for dynamic musicians to provide help in the field through the Experiential Teaching Artists Program (ETAP) program, a volunteer-based class.  I love being part of causes and enjoy teaching a lot, so I immediately knew I would enjoy myself working at OrKidstra.  I didn’t realize then how much of an impact my presence would have on these kids’ lives.  Now, as a classically trained pianist and full-time music instructor, I have never felt this way vis-a-vis any other work; it is very satisfying work. I remember thinking ‘there is no other place I would be more useful than here with the children, sharing my love and my musical knowledge’.  You can often hear kids say ‘OrKidstra is like my family’, and I do feel the same way.

OrKidstra is divided into many sections in order to offer a high-quality musical experience to children.  The younger kids start with the KiddlyWinks program where they are introduced to music while singing, playing recorder, xylophone and other activities such as dancing.  Then, kids graduate and join the KidSingers, an amazing choir.  The more serious and dedicated students can then move forward to KidPlayers, where they get to choose an instrument. The KidPlayers are members of the orchestra and attend more specialized training.  In all of these classes, the wellbeing of the child is the priority: musicality comes naturally as a byproduct of this nurturing.  In 2016, around 400 students will be attending an OrKidstra program in Ottawa.  This reflect OrKidstra’s mission: to empower children and build community through the universal language of music.

You can view a recent documentary produced by CBC on OrKidstra: http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/season-2016/episode-4/38e815a-00acb055c00

For more information about OrKidstra, please visit http://orkidstra.ca/about/.

You are interested to help in any way?  Send an email to admin@orkidstra.ca, or call (613) 859-3559, you’ll see, they are very kind!