the big soundInspired by a program developed in Venezuela in the mid 1970s, a local volunteer Board of Directors is announcing plans to launch a new and exciting after-school program this fall, for children in Grey Bruce. The Big Sound – El Sistema Grey Bruce ("The Big Sound") will feature musical instruction, social development and of course fun!

"Our goal is to create opportunities for children who, for various reasons, are often excluded from extra-curricular musical activities, such as playing in an ensemble or orchestra," said Board Chair David McLeish. "We want to replicate the success of other El Sistema programs operating in Canada and internationally and support vulnerable families while improving the self-esteem, academic performance, and a sense of inclusion for their children."

Different than traditional music lessons, The Big Sound will teach participants to sing and play an orchestral instrument in an ensemble that meets several days per week throughout the school year. Classes will be led by qualified teachers, mentors and coaches who will create a safe and caring environment for children. Nutritious snacks will also be a part of the program. The Big Sound will be offered at no-cost to children or their family.

"There are a number of barriers kids in our region may face in accessing after-school programs with a musical component," said David. "We know locally some families struggle to afford or include extra-curricular activities as a part of their day-to-day lives. We want to support those families specifically and we believe this will make The Big Sound special."

The Big Sound operates on the evidence-based premise that musical instruction improves a child's self-confidence, concentration and motivation. Ultimately this can translate in to greater academic achievement and a healthier, happier life.

A pilot program with up to 25 students from grades 4 and 5 at Hillcrest Elementary School will begin in the fall of 2018. "We are excited to partner with The Big Sound and work with its volunteer Board to help evaluate the impact of this program on our students," said Hillcrest Principal Keith Lefebvre.

Although the program will initially serve children and youth attending "in town" schools, The Big Sound hopes to eventually expand the program throughout both Grey and Bruce Counties.

"Once the program is well established, it is our intention to provide more spaces for students, and provide live performance opportunities within the community" said David. "This will provide the students with opportunities to showcase their new skills and abilities, but also the profile and visibility of the program, which in turn should garner the boarder community's interest and support."

source: media release

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