It All StArts With Me is a program designed to inspire children to dream, and then to pursue those dreams. By exposing underprivileged kids to the arts, we offer them opportunities that they may have been unaware of. Dreams of becoming a musician or an artist become suddenly so much more achievable as children discover actual, physical demonstrations of their dreams. I followed a grade 3 inner city school class as they toured Edmonton’s Winspear Centre for the very first time.
Highlights from the visit included touring the Winspear and exploring the reverberations of sound throughout the magnificent building, learning about and trying out different kinds of instruments, and listening to and visiting with the live band that performed just for us. Our tour of the Winspear took us through the lobby, past the time capsule, underneath the concert hall, and concluded with an up close experience with the incredible Davis Concert Organ. The kids were in awe as our tour guide explained the mechanics behind the instrument, and they shrieked with delight when he displayed the power behind the Spanish horns – a set of horizontal pipes that trumpeted powerfully through the empty concert hall.
Lunch, provided by the Upper Crust Café, fed the children’s appetites as they talked excitedly about what was to come. After lunch they studied different kinds of instruments, learning the science behind each unique sound. They explored wind chimes, the clarinet, an accordion, the piano, and a violin. Afterwards, they gathered to listen to Edmonton’s very own video game soundtrack band “Experience Points.” These talented musicians answered questions and took requests as they covered popular video game soundtracks that the kids recognized and bounced along to. Questions like, “how do you join a band?” and “where’d you learn to do that?” provided the kids with the opportunity to meet live performing artists and realize their own interests in music and music-making.
I saw the same wonder on the faces of students from the Ben Calf Robe Elementary school as they visited the Art Gallery of Alberta. As we took in the art displays we learned about story-telling within art. Later, after a delicious lunch again provided by the Upper Crust Café, the kids were given the opportunity to express their own stories and ideas through art as they created water-colour paintings depicting personal interpretations of friendship, change, and emotions. Another inner city school, Ben Calf Robe has a large percentage of Aboriginal students who may face their own unique challenges due to their circumstances. Their teacher remarked on the importance of the visit, stating “outings like this show the kids that there is more out there – another way out.”
It All StArts With Me provides underprivileged kids opportunities they may not have had otherwise. Though none of these kids had ever been to the Winspear Centre or the Alberta Art Gallery, all expressed an interest in returning. Dr. Francis G. Winspear, for whom the Winspear is named, said that “…music can transcend boundaries of culture, differences in educational and economic backgrounds and barriers between nations.” Though these children come from backgrounds of poverty and social inequality, their ability to dream is the same as yours and mine. Through It All StArts With Me we’re hoping we can inspire them to dream beyond their circumstances… and then we’ll do everything we can to help them achieve those dreams.
This article is part 2 of 3 in the It All StArts With Me Series