I know that in my case, my confidence and creativity to write and draw comics professionally was impacted by a number of things. My joy of absorbing the work of professionals, encouragement from friends and family and those extra pats on the back from my teachers all the way from elementary to high school.
It is often more difficult living in a small town to get access to the published works I was looking for — whether for inspiration or to learn from. Living away from a major urban centre also restricted my access to professional writers and artists who could answer my questions, steer me in the right direction and show me how it was done.
Apparently, our local professional musicians recognize the importance of this. Recently, Katie and I had an opportunity to attend the Composer in the Classroom series here in Niagara.
Composer in the Classroom is a fantastic program offered by the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (in conjunction with the support of the host school and the sponsorship of Ontario Paper Thorold Foundation, District School Board of Niagara and Niagara Catholic School Board).
The Niagara Symphony Orchestra started this program in 2001 and since that time more than 12,000 students have participated.
Through the Composer in the Classroom program, grade 6 and 7 Port Colborne students were exposed to the language of music. Through 5 half-day sessions, the students worked with NSO conductor Laura Thomas to compose their own original piece of music.
After weeks of working together, their hard work was on display for classmates and family as four members of the NSO were in attendance to perform eight unique compositions developed by the Port Colborne students. The instruments incorporated included flute, piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola and cello and each had a chance to shine.
Laura was quick to point out that, at a time when arts budgets and music programs are vanishing, Composer in the Classroom is integral to the vibrancy of the future of music as a part of our community. In some cases, this may be the only opportunity for some of these students to speak about the nuances involved in making music, interact with the instruments, musicians and understand the literacy required to write music.
The Composer in the Classroom program allows kids to test the boundaries and learn the structure involved in making music. They are able to witness as their decisions and creativity result in the composition of a piece of music that is played live by professional musicians in their own school.
I know Katie and I enjoyed our late morning concert and are hopeful that this brief exposure to professional music will inspire these children to better understand and enjoy the music they listen to and maybe one or two will be encouraged to go on to learn how to play or write their own music someday.
JUST THE FACTS
The Niagara Symphony Orchestra was founded in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1948. The NSO perform a 12-concert programme annually at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre at Brock University in St. Catharines.
Niagara Symphony Summer Music Camp
Since 1962, the Niagara Symphony Summer Music Camp (SMC) has inspired and encouraged young musicians. A belief in the value of music education has been the motivation for the establishment of performance programmes for all skill levels and ages. Members of our teaching faculty are professional musicians and music educators selected for their knowledge and ability to inspire. Apprentice staff members are enthusiastic young musicians; many are former campers, eager to blend learning with fun.