Hello CMW Family and Friends!
I’ve been meaning to write a blog post much sooner, but wanted to wait until I could unveil some exciting news! As many of you know, I moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland to pursue a Masters Degree after completing my Fellowship at CMW.
St. John’s is the eastern-most tip of North America. It takes an hour-long flight (or an eight hour ferry ride) to get to the closest body of land (Nova Scotia). I'm closer to Ireland (2,043 miles away) than I am to my hometown of Saskatoon (3,479 miles away). It’s amazing having the North Atlantic Ocean practically in my own back yard, profound scenery at every turn…
Cape St. Mary’s, NL...
...a view of the St. John’s harbour...
...and local dogs that are as big as black bears.
Time has flown. It still feels like yesterday when I was in Providence! Not a day goes by when I don’t think about how CMW, and all the great people and friends I have in my life now because of my fellowship experience.
Last May, I came to visit CMW for the yearly Institute for Musicianship and Public Service. For the few months previous to IMPS, I had spent a lot of time and thought trying to figure out what my next move was going to be. I was searching for the right next step for me as I was finishing my degree. Would I move somewhere else to start something? Would I join an existing organization? I sleuthed a few intriguing opportunities, but there was always something tugging inside me. I realized that my fondness for this rugged place was making it hard to leave. By the time I got to IMPS (the Institute for Musicianship and Public Service), I had determined that I was going to stay in St. John’s and try to start a program from the ground up. It was clear to me that I Couldn’t NOT Try. There was a dream within me, and I wasn’t going to find it anywhere. I needed to create it.
IMPS was the perfect opportunity for me to sit down and come up with a game plan. In true Carole fashion, this involved lots of arts and crafts, flow charts, and colours.
I was ready to get down to the planning stages.
In the 1990s, the government of Canada declared a moratorium on the cod fishing industry- Newfoundland’s main economy. Fishing wasn’t just a job, it was a way of life for families and communities. Newfoundland went through an economic crash and many families and communities were left in poverty because there was no work for anyone. An entire generation had to leave their homes to find work in order to feed their families.
By the time I got here in 2011, St. John’s was in the midst of a renaissance. The combination of emerging industries and an expanding academic community is strengthening the community. CFAs (Newfoundland Term: CFAs: “Come From Aways” definition: a person who moves to Newfoundland for work or study who is not originally from Newfoundland.) often fall in love with the place and the way of life, and decide to stay. But, there is a lot of work to be done. There is a disparity between old traditions and new ways of life, and there are still entire neighbourhoods who are suffering from the rifts of the last few decades.
One thing that has been bringing people together in Newfoundland despite the hard times is music. Music has an integral role in the hearts of Newfoundlanders. I think that is one reason why the program vision has been met with such enthusiasm. The vision is to bring people together and strengthen communities that are already here through the learning and sharing of music.
After months of planning, proposals, meetings, and conversations, I am happy to announce that the vision that has been simmering for years is now unfolding!
This new after-school program is a blend of all the flavours I’ve been immersed in in the past four years. I have partnered with the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra, which is already developing into an enriching partnership. Right now, we are working with elementary aged children from two elementary schools on the west side of St. John’s. Three days a week, we meet at the neighbourhood community centre for music time. From now until December, we’re going to be singing, learning about rhythm, notes and proper posture. In January, each student will be taking home their own violin, viola or cello, creating our very own orchestra.
Early on in the planning process, I recruited four enthusiastic Masters’ Students from the university to work together with me. These four are already proving their brilliance- as educators and as a cohesive team. They have been demonstrating good teamwork and passion already, and we’ve only just begun! We’re planning our first chamber music performances and concert trips for our students, their families, and the community.
The program is starting small, but dreaming big. On our first day, nine Grade 2s and 3s brought their parents and families, and everyone had a wonderful time getting to know each other. The Teaching Artists (myself included) played a smattering of chamber music to demonstrate our instruments for the kids, followed by name games to get to know each other better.
This is only just the beginning of something wonderful. I have adopted the “Build it and they will come” philosophy. Now that there are kids willing to learn, teachers willing to teach, and parents willing to listen, we’re going to stay close to the mission of the work- to strengthen our communities through music. All the details (like, nailing down a proper and catchy name…) will become clear as this program starts to develop its own pulse. Now that the music has started, we’re going to play, learn, and grow together.
With Much Love!
Fellowship Class ’09-‘11