In addition to programming over 600 public events each year on campus, the Schulich School of Music sponsors several community outreach organizations.
Student-led community engagement initiatives
In 2022, the Schulich School of Music launched a pilot program to support student-led community engagement initiatives. Through their respective outreach projects, the students developed invaluable leadership skills and forged relationships with communities around Montreal. Through the power of music, they brought joy to medical patients, supported young newcomers to Canada, and built bridges across cultures.
Together, they truly brought music to life. Here were some of their projects.
More than a Song
Led by Fredericka Petit-Homme (BMus'02, MMus'04, current PhD) and Myrtle Thomas, the “More than a Song” Gospel workshop series took place on campus in August 2022. 75 people participated in the workshops, where they embarked on a journey of shared music-making.
This initiative welcomed 'culture bearers’ from the urban world of gospel choral music, Schulich School of Music students, McGill students from across the campus, and members from the wider Montreal community. Through singing and performing, attendees explored music and traditions outside of the Western classical canon, connecting with the rich sounds, culture, and history of gospel.
The Starbucks Black Partner Network (BPN Montreal) and the St. Laurent Starbucks branch provided free iced tea, coffee, and cups for the workshop sessions.
In anticipation of the workshop, we connected with Frédéricka over email and learned what she loves about making music as a community, how consistent, small contributions can go a long way, and what she looks forward to when she attends a concert.
Darbuka and Arabic Singing Youth Concert
May – June 2022
Nour Saba and Elissa Nakhleh developed a series of Arabic music community workshops, targeting young newcomers to Canada and children of immigrant families in the Arabic communities of Montreal.
This project aimed to support Arab immigrant youth – whether they immigrated to Canada themselves or were born to immigrant parents – whose culture are no longer naturally a part of their everyday environment.
Through a series of eight weekly workshops, two hours each, participants received Darbuka group lessons and sung Arabic songs as an ensemble (the Darbuka is a percussion instrument that is widely used in Middle Eastern and North African music).
These workshops culminated in a concert. The youth sang and performed the Darbuka accompanied by an Arabic music ensemble. The ensemble was comprised of all the musicians that helped teach the workshops.
Through this initiative, Nour and Elissa helped youth experience the joy of singing and playing music from their culture.
Read our In Conversation with Nour and Elissa to find out more about how this project came together.
Internship with La SAMS - Concerts in Healthcare
September 2022 – June 2023
During the 2022 - 2023 academic year, students had the opportunity to register for a special internship with La SAMS, a registered charity whose mission is to “improve the lives of patients and residents in health care institutions through better access to the arts.” The students who participated received three course credits, open to undergraduate and graduate students.
Seventeen students joined the program. Together they worked in small ensembles and received support developing, delivering, and reflecting upon their performances in healthcare contexts.
Heart of the City
The Montreal Heart of the City Piano Program provides free piano lessons to children living in underprivileged areas by bringing volunteer teachers into elementary schools. Each child receives a private music lesson in their school once a week, and practices regularly. The space is equipped with headphones and keyboards. In addition to music lessons, the program organizers facilitate events to enrich musical appreciation, and learning in general, including free concerts and recitals. Children also have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience.
The Montreal New Horizons Band is a bilingual and inter-generational wind and percussion ensemble open to all that offers the opportunity to learn (or relearn) how to play a musical instrument in a friendly and dynamic environment. Watch the video on YouTube.
Professor Patil Harboyen founded the Healing Notes initiative in early 2020. In collaboration with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation, the program brings live music to MUHC’s newly built Cancer Center.
This program serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it brings music and beauty into a place devoted to healing others. And on the other, it provides Schulich students valuable performance experience, which aligns well with the MUHC’s mandate as a teaching hospital.
Read more about the Healing Notes initiative:
Other ways to hear our students
Our students are also available for hire through our Musician Booking Office – a perfect fit for community members seeking high-quality musicians for their special events. This is another way our students provide a service to the community while building their careers as professional performers.