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.
We connected with Fei Tang, Nai Children’s Choir Founder and General Manager in Toronto to learn more about their program and the impact of the new instruments they received via MusiCounts.
Can you tell us a little bit about your music program, and your participants?
Our choir currently operates at four locations across the city including providing weekly music program to children at a refugee shelter. All children in the choir are recent refugees to Canada. Parents struggle to make ends meet and they are not able to afford any music programs that require a tuition. Many children don’t speak English well enough to participate in music programs that use English as the only medium of instruction. Moreover, their parents’ English proficiency is too low to communicate with the teachers and program staff of general arts program. It is difficult for them to feel a sense of belonging in an English-only learning environment for music education. Additionally, many of our refugee families come from a conservative Muslim culture where music is often forbidden. Our staff work hard with both choristers and their families, to open their minds to the incredible benefits of music, and the power it has to unite us all.
Why did you apply for support from the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program?
Our existing funding did not support students’ instrument learning and the only instrument we could work with is our own vocal cords. The few accompanying instruments we did have for our choirs were very old and dysfunctional.
How will receiving these new musical instruments have an impact on your program and its participants?
Owing to the traditional cultural belief of the particular population we work with, music in general is not always viewed favorably. Singing is often forbidden, but certain instruments, especially percussion instruments are allowed. Traditionally, even in the most conservative regions, poetry citing accompanied by percussion instruments is accepted with respect. To gradually open up the mind of the parents and obtain acceptance of the community, we find it’s effective to offer instrument lessons to the children from conservative backgrounds. Moreover, introducing instruments can also help us better engage children who are not particularly fond of singing. Adding instruments to our regular choir rehearsal also diversifies our music making channels and enables the children to express their musicality differently.
Once you receive all of your new instruments and equipment, what are the next steps for your program?
We’ve received about half of the instruments and equipment we ordered and we immediately put them to use in our regular rehearsals. Children have been singing and playing percussion instruments simultaneously ever since. Once we received all instruments we will form a youth ensemble of Arabic instruments and give regular group lessons to teach children how to play and to collaborate with each other.
Learn more about Culture Link’s Nai Children’s Choir and the impact they are making within their community by visiting www.naikids.com/
Get to know more 2018 MusiCounts TD Community Music Program recipients here.