Part of the “Public Engagement Success Stories” series
By Louise Campbell
Public engagement in the arts includes people of all ages and backgrounds. For me, this is what makes public engagement exciting – so many diverse people coming together, finding common ground to make music. I was reminded of this again when I was giving a series of improv workshops titled ‘Playing the Music Game’ at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe Claire, Quebec. I am fortunate to offer these workshops through Quebec’s Culture in Schools program, a program that offers subsidies to elementary and secondary schools to have an artist in residence. This program makes it possible for schools, and by extension for students, to have access to experiences in the arts that would not be possible otherwise.
Lindsay Place High School is particular in that it has a very diverse student population. LP is also a designated resource school, meaning it caters to students with different learning needs and abilities. Walking into a workshop setting at LP meant meeting a group of students who had varying levels of ability and experience on their musical instrument ranging from having just picked up their instrument 2 months previously to playing in the specialized Arts Etude program for 5 years. What’s the easiest way to get a group of people like this to make music together? Improvise! We’ve all got our own ways of going about doing this; what I am interested in sharing here is the feedback from the students and teacher.
In their words
An honours student in Secondary V (Gr. 11):
“This experience opened up my eyes to the creativity and originality involved in this area of music. My perspective on improvisation has changed drastically!”
A student on the autism spectrum in Secondary III (Gr. 8), quite simply:
“It was fun!” This comment was put into perspective later when I realized that music class was not normally fun for him, since he usually sat in class holding the instrument and not playing because he didn’t want to ‘annoy’ the other students or make the band sound ‘bad.’ He was thrilled to be able to play and improvise by throwing out the idea of ‘wrong’ notes.
The teacher, an accomplished performer and educator herself:
“It was wonderful to see my band students gain quick confidence with using improvisational techniques, especially since some of them are otherwise shy…. I was impressed with their zeal to make (the music) their own.”
As we all know, music touches people in many ways. These workshops were a good reminder for me about why I do music in the first place, and why public engagement is so important.
We’re always on the lookout for more success stories
If you have heard of or participated in an initiative you have found particularly inspiring surrounding the issue of public engagement, please contact Louise Campbell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more success stories:
Public Engagement in Schools – Lindsay Place – 21st edition
Creative Music Education Online Resources
Curatorial and Art Criticism students meet Continuum in The OCADU Project – 20th edition
I.S.S. Is Somebody Singing – 16th edition
Toronto’s New Music 101 – 16th edition