The OrKidstra Program

The Leading Note Foundation* was created in September 2007 by the owners of The Leading Note music store (Tina Fedeski & Gary McMillen) and former NACO cellist and music educator, Margaret Tobolowska. The charitable organization administers OrKidstra, a music program for children aged 5 to 18 in under-served areas of Ottawa. Our goal is not to raise professional musicians (though all children will be left with a life-long appreciation of music) as much as to instil many life skills which come with learning music: confidence, teamwork, responsibility and inter-dependence, tolerance, patience and pride in achievement. OrKidstra is a program of social change inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema program, which has supporters and proponents worldwide.

OrKidstra Year-End Concert at Dominion Chalmers United Church in June 2012

The main OrKidstra programs — KidPlayers (orchestra), KidSingers (choral) and KiddlyWinks (high-energy, fun Orff-based program for young children) — are held at the Bronson Centre and classes are offered at no cost to all participants from low income backgrounds. These programs include many children from an area of Ottawa which has a high population of new immigrants. By playing music together, the children learn to build their own community across divergent cultural backgrounds – there are as many as 42 languages spoken!

Soprano Jenna Glatt (bottom right) with the massed choir at the Peace Day Event in City Hall, Sep 2012. Olivia Chow and Paul Dewar (upper right) look on as Jeannie Hunter conducts Dr. James Wright (at keyboard) and the OrKidstra strings in “To Young Canadians”, composed by Dr. Wright specially for the Peace Day Event.

OrKidstra was founded in 2007 with 30 children. Ten years later, the program has expanded to include over 500 children and we now operate a second hub at Rideau High School in Vanier. Visit OrKidstra’s web site for more information about the program.

Building Community Through Music - The Leading Note music store and OrKidstra

* In 2016, the official name of the charitable organization was changed from The Leading Note Foundation to OrKidstra in order to reduce branding confusion.

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