Story and photo by Ellen Bond
The group of youth settles down, instruments at the ready. Together, they begin practising pieces from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It sounds almost like an orchestra.
In a way, that’s the whole point behind OrKidstra, a social development program that helps empower kids and builds community through music. Youth play all the instruments found in a regular orchestra, and while they do play classical music, they also explore world, pop, folk and other traditional music.
Among them is Noah Linson-Hudson, a 14-year-old Kitchissippi resident who plays the cello.
“It’s something so wonderful to look forward to at the end of each day,” says Noah, who is featured as our HOK this month.
Noah attends the after-school programs at the Bronson Centre twice a week and if it was possible, he would attend every day.
“We have some students where music has been a transformative power in their lives,” says Rebecca Russell, development and communications officer for OrKidstra, and herself a Kitchissippi resident. “Music can help kids grow like nothing else can.”
OrKidstra started back in 2007, designed for kids from underserved communities to help them build life skills through learning music together. It’s open to youth between the ages of five to 18.
By playing an instrument or singing, and coming together with music, they learn skills like teamwork. They build their self-confidence, their listening skills, problem solving skills, responsibility for taking care of your instrument and this helps OrKidstra kids reach for success in their future careers.
OrKidstra is very proud that 100% of the kids in their program have graduated from high school. These kids are now studying biology, commerce, neuroscience, marketing, business and a few are studying music.
“Playing an instrument can help the brain grow and develop in very different ways according to some research I have read recently,” says Rebecca.
They have all found their passions through their lives and OrKIDstra has helped them along the way. Rebecca explains that there are high expectations placed on the kids in the program and they are guided to achieve their goals and to adhere to the time limits put on them.
The skills learned, such as time management, are transferable to their life after the program. There are 850 kids enrolled in OrKidstra, in both in-school and after-school programs.
If you want to see the OrKidstra program in action, plan to attend their Centretown Hub Holiday Concert on Wednesday, December 18 at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre (355 Cooper St). The show begins at 6:30 p.m. There is no fee to attend the concert, but donations to OrKidstra are always welcome.
Kitchissippi resident Rebecca Russell says OrKidstra can be transformative for kids involved in the program.