Public Engagement in Schools – Lindsay Place

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 –

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

Direct link: Pub­lic in Schools – Lind­say Place
Return to full Bul­letin – Octo­ber 2015