The possibilities of inclusivity, social growth, and positive change through music

(Courtesy of York University)

On February 18 and 19, The Helen Carswell Chair in Community-Engaged Research in the Arts will be presenting the Community Music Symposium: “Inclusive Music Making and Creative Ensembles”. This event will be presented through a series of workshops for students and faculty to benefit from.

“The goal of the symposium is to bring awareness to the growing field of community music and to share community-engaged research in the arts,” says Helen Carswell Chair, Amy Hillis. “The focus of our symposium’s sessions are inclusivity and creativity in music pedagogy. This symposium will offer new ways to include marginalized communities using creative music-making methods.”

Hillis notes that the symposium will also look to challenge current pedagogical strategies and discuss alternative ways of using “music as a vehicle for social growth and positive change,” adding that through the events, students and faculty can expect to learn more about the growing field of community music.

“For example, they can be a part of the symposium’s first discussion led by keynote speaker, Dr. Phil Mullen, titled ‘What is community music?’ Participants and attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about some of the most recent research in the field from our current Helen Carswell Research Team,” adds Hillis.

Other topics at the symposium will include ‘Inclusive Music-Making and Creative Starting Points’, ‘Role Modelling, Representation, and Community Bands’, ‘Cultural Connections through Music’, and many more.

“In my presentation, I will be discussing a research project that will bring together students who play wind, brass, and percussion instruments from Regent Park School of Music as well as middle and high schools in the North West Toronto area with volunteer mentors from the York University Wind Symphony, as well as professional musicians (two composers and a conductor),” says Pratik Gandhi, a freelance conductor in their second-year of doctoral studies in the department of music. “The workshop would have several benefits in the areas of community engagement, representation, role modeling, and fostering creativity.” 

Patty Chan, an MA candidate in ethnomusicology and director of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, will be sharing their in-progress project with the Regent Park School of Music students as well as their experience in leading a traditional Chinese orchestra in the community.

“I strongly believe that as a university, we need to encourage students to be involved in the community whether it be as a musician in a community orchestra or as a volunteer in their area of study,” says Chan. 

“It is a great learning opportunity and a wonderful way to create connections that will extend well beyond their years in academia. The students today will be future contributors to the arts and music community whether as supporters or musicians. This symposium will offer practical applications to our research and will show how community music can enrich lives and result in a more connected society.”

About the Author

By Sydney Ewert

Arts Editor

Sydney is in her third year at York University studying Dance. She loves to travel and explore new places. When Sydney is not editing, working, or studying for her classes, she is likely going for walks or learning new recipes.


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