Studies have shown that a musical education can be beneficial to a child’s social and intellectual development, being linked to everything from better math skills to increased spatial awareness and teamwork.
Now, local choir Choeur des enfants hopes that a new grant will help them spread the benefits – and the love – of singing to elementary-aged kids around the Montreal area.
The organization plans to use $5,000 recently awarded to them by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan to launch choir programs in schools that have no music program. The project, called Montreal Sings, would provide music tutors and instruction to groups of children in both English and French schools.
The goal: to bring the kids to the level of performing an end-of-term concert onstage with professional musicians, and, hopefully, to leave them with a lifelong love of singing.
“I witness on an almost daily basis the good that musical activities do for children and adults who can afford them,” said Andrew Gray, the choir’s artistic director and project leader. “I wish that all children in Montreal could have access to regular music-making and self-expression through singing with others.”
Choir administrator Andrea Cooper explained that the project will begin small, with a couple of schools as a pilot project. Eventually, with time and more funding, the choir hopes to partner with 10 English and 10 French schools in the Montreal area, focusing on those without an existing music program.
“Because of budget cuts in recent years, more and more schools have had to stop offering music,” she said. “We want to find kids who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to sing in a choir.”
Among other things, the grant money will be used to find and hire suitable tutors, locate concert venues and handle the considerable logistics that come with administering the project. Gray hopes to continue fundraising and expanding the program.
Gray and the Choeur des enfants hope that, eventually, governments and school boards on a regional –and even national – level will institute similar programs.
To Gray, who firmly believes that the nearly-addictive and self-esteem-boosting practice of group singing can change young lives, the idea makes perfect sense.
“Sowing the seeds of this enjoyment into children at a young age, where the activity itself has little to no impact on school resources, time or curriculum, is perhaps one of the few ways left to explore,” he said.
For more information, visit choeurdesenfantsdemontreal.com.