Transformative jazz

The Toronto Star, Editorial, January 22, 2009


Children can have questionable taste in music so it’s always nice to hear they’re enjoying a music form like jazz. It’s even better news when they’re also gaining a confidence-boosting experience – something far too rare in Toronto’s low-income neighbourhoods.


Tonight, after months of hard work, some 200 elementary students from neighbourhoods in north Etobicoke will sing in a concert with American jazz great Barry Harris at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.


Educators have long understood the need to stimulate children in school with more than just the basics of reading and math. But after decades of funding shortfalls, arts and music teachers are in short supply. Before - and after-school programs that keep children busy in positive ways, instead of leaving them to occupy themselves on the streets, are also woefully inadequate.


So this isn’t just a concert; it’s an inventive attempt to do what’s best for children. Funding for this year’s project comes from private donors, the TDCT Financial Group and KPMG. The Toronto public school board has provided rehearsal space and buses.


The concert will be just two hours long, but the benefits to the students could be lifelong. For Shermarke Mohamed, it’s already been transformative. The 9-year-old was too shy to ask questions in class just a few months ago, but he tonight he will sing a solo.



Project Partner
Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
Lead Sponsors
Lead Sponsors Telus Mobility Black Artists' Networks Dialogue TD Canada Trust
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