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Offering kids a path through music
A full orchestra, that’s the goal – one full of young Joseph Haydns, Marie Wilsons and Robert Cohens the world may not have heard perform otherwise.
But to do so, Sistema Winnipeg needs any dusty, unused and playable instruments from Winnipeggers to keep the free after school music program growing.
"The demand for instruments is quite strong," said Tanya Derksen, education and outreach director at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which runs Sistema in Elwick School in the Maples and King Edward School in the North End.
"We wanted to open (the program) up to the community to get them engaged in the process and learn about the program."
Launched in 2011, Sistema has grown to include 80 elementary students between Elwick and King Edward. For all intents, Sistema is intense — students through Grades 1 to 4 meet after school each day for three hours, learning to play everything from Beethoven to the Star Wars theme song to Queen’s We Will Rock You on cellos and violins.
The idea is to follow the kids in the program all the way up to Grade 12 while gradually broadening the kind of instruments they can play and introducing new students into the program, Derksen said.
Sistema is looking for any orchestral instruments from violins, violas, cellos, bass, flutes, piccolos, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, french horns, trombones, tubas, snare drums, bells and other orchestral percussion instruments.
"We want to build off of the strings that we have and build our full orchestra within four to six years," Derksen said, adding instruments are a "symbol of hope for children in the program.
"It’s meant for children growing up in more impoverished backgrounds, something they can dig their teeth into and change the direction of their lives in their future."
There are about 30 students in the King Edward program, which launched in November 2012, music teacher Heidi Poetker said.
The program is critical as acting as a catalyst to help boost a sense of belonging and self-worth among its students, who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to learn music privately outside the school.
"These kids, they need somewhere to belong, especially after school with all the gang related stuff out there," she said.
"Sistema is a more positive way to get that, just being able to learn something, and gain confidence through learning new skills. "
Learning music helps students express themselves and strengthens their spirits, enabling them to rise above poverty issues, Poetker said.
"It’s bigger than actual music learning," she said.
"Some of the kids have rough backgrounds, if they can just escape that world for a while."
The deadline for donations is Sun., April 21, when the WSO will host Music, Noise & Silence at the Centenniel Concert Hall at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 or $10 for children 10 and under.
All donations will be given a tax receipt.
Tickets for the concert are available at the WSO box office at 555 Main St., by calling 204-949-3999, or at www.wso.ca.
For more info and to make a donation call Derksen at 204-949-3964 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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