MusiCounts

Meet The Community Recipients – West Broadway Youth Outreach Music Program

MusiCounts and TD Bank Group are proud to partner and support youth music programs across the country. In 2018, 30 music programs from across Canada will benefit from instrument grants through the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program. To celebrate, MusiCounts is highlighting a recipient program each day this week.

Today, we’re hearing from Loana Valdez at West Broadway Youth Outreach to learn more about their program and the impact of the new instruments they received via MusiCounts.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your music program, and your participants?

A: WBYO is a drop in life skills and recreational program for youth ages 4 and up within Winnipeg’s inner-city and beyond. We offer year-round afterschool and summer programming all free of cost. One of our popular programs is our music program. Volunteer music teachers spend 30 minutes each week with students, exploring either piano or guitar on a one-on-one basis. Participants are typically between the ages of 5 – 13 years old, and, have either never played or thought of playing an instrument in their life, or have had an ongoing interest in music but never the opportunity to explore their hidden talents. To encourage their inner musicians, WBYO strives to also lend out guitars and keyboards when available so participants may practice at home. With the help from MusiCounts, WBYO is lucky enough to do so!

Q: Why did you apply for support from the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program?

A: The music program at WBYO begun from a passionate pianist who is a former employee of WBYO. This particular person saw a gap in our programming – we did not offer any sort of music program. Taking this on as her own endeavor, she recruited students and volunteers and soon built the music program into what it is today. Our music program boomed with interested musicians and WBYO realized we could not keep up with the demands of the program.
For over 15 years, our music program has had the same instruments they received when it started. Though we are grateful of the support this program has found, the instruments being used were often on their last leg, outdated, or handed down. This became a challenge and it was tough to accurately teach on them and more time was being spent fixing or altering the instrument, than actually playing it. This prompted WBYO to apply for the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program instrument grant. WBYO was in dire need of new instruments, more instruments (the number of participants goes up each year!) and other equipment that allows for a proper music recital that excites the kids and families.

Q: How will receiving these new musical instruments have an impact on your program and its participants?
With new instruments and equipment, each lesson can truly focus on learning how to play, rather than fiddling with an instrument. Our volunteer teachers were quick to comment that the new instruments make teaching easier and run smoothly. There were little changes that allowed them to teach a bit of theory behind the music the students were playing. For instance, weighted keys on a keyboard strengthens the muscles in your fingers, allowing you to grow into a better musician, while also transferring that strength into other aspects like athletics and writing. Having this connection with the instruments and linking the benefits to the students’ interests has definitely created a bigger wave within our community to engage in programming such as ours. Through this engagement, our community networks grow and gets stronger, which ultimately, creates a more safe, fun, and nurturing environment for youth and families to reach their fullest potential.

Q: Once you receive all of your new instruments and equipment, what are the next steps for your program?
With the new instruments, our goal is to grow the number of participants in our music program. Currently, we have about 25 students. We would like to be able to grow that number to 40 within the next year. We would love to also expand on programming by offering just more than piano and guitar lessons. There has been conversations amongst participants about having an interest in percussion, vocals, and woodwind instruments.

Q: Are there any particular stories related to receiving these instruments that you would like to share?
Since receiving the new instruments, there has been an increase in new music participants. Participants who have been part of our music program before saw the upgrade and started telling family members and friends. Since then, we have had over 15 students express interest in music lessons who have never been to either our music program or the WBYO program as a whole. These are participants started in our music program but have slowly become regulars to our program in general, sometimes attending various programs 2-3 times a week. Theses are participants that we would not have otherwise reached but are able to now support them in their academics, give them equal opportunities to everything the city has to offer, ensure they never go home hungry and have a place they can call a home away from home.

Learn more about West Broadway programs and the impact they are making within their community by visiting  www.westbroadwayyouthoutreach.com/

Get to know more program recipients by clicking here. Stay tuned for our next “Meet The Recipients” feature tomorrow.

Ashley Sperling