MusiCounts TD Community Music Program Funds 19 Community Music Groups

By Steve McLean 7/13/15 |

Members of Ottawa's OrKidstra onstage at TD Place. CARAS president Allan Reid is pictured top right — photo courtesy of MusiCounts.
The MusiCounts TD Community Music Program is providing a quarter-of-a-million dollars to give 19 community-based music programs across Canada access to musical instruments, education and engagement programming for youth.

The program is the music education charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS), which puts on Canada's biggest awards show, the Juno Awards; and the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), which presents its genre-specific awards.

Many of the recipients come from underserved neighbourhoods.

“The groups range from Kamloops to St. John’s,” MusiCounts director Vanessa Thomas tells Samaritanmag. “We have an Inuit throat-singing and beatboxing DJ program in Iqaluit, which is pretty cool. Every corner of the country is benefitting from the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program.”

Funding amounts range from $5,000 to $21,000 and cover a variety of instruments and gear, including turntables and DJ equipment for the Legacy Children’s Foundation in Calgary, which was founded with the goal of implementing early intervention programming to help at-risk children and families.

More than 100 funding applications were submitted, and other recipients include: Rock and Roll Society of Edmonton; SideDoor Music Club in Yellowknife; Sounds of the Next Generation (SONG) in Baltimore, Ont.; HomeBridge Youth Society in Dartmouth, N.S.; and San Romanoway Revitalization Association in Toronto.

Ottawa’s OrKidstra — which is dedicated to empowering children aged five to 18 in underserved areas of Ottawa through music — received $15,000 worth of violins, violas and cellos and had the added thrill of bringing them on stage to perform with six-time Juno Award winner Serena Ryder at the TD Place grand opening on July 3.

Ryder donated $25,000 of her own money to help fund the gifts from the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program.

“Serena is so passionate about how music can help kids through some really tricky times,” says Thomas. “She’s such a fan of helping kids express themselves through music.”

TD Bank Group contributed $200,000 as part of its community giving program. Hockey Night in St. Catharines, a charitable fundraiser organized by St. Catharines, Ont. MP Rick Dykstra, donated $20,000. Arts & Crafts added $15,000 through its partnership with TD Music, which sponsored its Field Trip music festival earlier this year.

The MusiCounts TD Community Music Program was envisioned four years ago by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, who proposed an agenda to support programs serving at-risk youth who may lack opportunities for music education and discovery through their schools.

The program was born three years ago with a mission to provide musical instruments and equipment to community centres, after-school programs and other community non-profit organizations. “We’re so fortunate with the artist support for our programs from people like Serena, Lights, Magic! and The Arkells,” says Thomas. “There’s tons of support.”

MusiCounts mandate is to help keep music alive in schools and communities across Canada by putting musical instruments into the hands of children that need them most. It achieves its mission through its Band Aid program, the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program, the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, scholarships and other music education initiatives.

According to MusiCounts, nearly $8 million has been awarded to benefit more than 700 schools and communities, support more than 300 post-secondary music program graduates and honour 10 extraordinary music teachers since 1997.

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