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Bringing music to inner-city kids

Program targets disadvantaged youth

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A few students from William Whyte School are pictured playing the violin last year as part of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts (MCMA) Inner City Outreach Program. They played a showcase concert on May 8 this year.

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A few students from William Whyte School are pictured playing the violin last year as part of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts (MCMA) Inner City Outreach Program. They played a showcase concert on May 8 this year. Photo Store

Let there be music in the inner city.

The Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts (MCMA) is running its Inner City Music Outreach program from September to May.

As part of the inner city outreach program, the MCMA gives out bursaries, usually to groups. New this year are the individual bursaries, inspired by an applicant from last year who had no money but plenty of talent.

"Someone came in last year and started singing for us," community services co-ordinator Ashley Boychuk recalled.

After witnessing that sort of passion for music, the MCMA created individual bursaries for those who don’t have the means to pay for a musical education.

The individual bursary offers students half an hour of music lessons per week for a full year. The MCMA pays 70% of the cost while the applicant pays the remaining 30%. Boychuk said the MCMA has handed out five individual bursaries so far.

"We’re not looking for the best musician. We’re looking for people who want to make music and build their skill," Boychuk said.

Boychuk explained that the outreach program teaches two different genres: strings and rock.

"These two programs serve over 350 kids within the inner city," Boychuk said.

The MCMA provides music lessons within the schools to students during the day on either violins or different rock instruments.

The schools that are part of the "inner city strings" program are William Whyte School (200 Powers St.), Strathcona School (233 McKenzie St.), and Wellington School (690 Beverley St.).

The students from these three schools are taught individually because the population is transient and there is a low attendance rate, said Boychuk.

"It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to have fun and build up their confidence," Boychuk said.

Many inner-city children face financial and social barriers, so the outreach program acts as both a creative outlet and a place to have fun.

"It’s a nice way for them to have access to musical education to keep them engaged during the day while they do their studies," Boychuk said.

The second genre, "inner city rock", is taught to students from Wi Wabigooni School (346-348 Cumberland Ave.) and Eagles’ Circle School (658 Ross Ave.). All instruments are provided to both schools by Long & McQuade Musical Instruments.

For more information about the MCMA, visit mcma.ca or call 204-943-6090.


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