Sustainable Programming Is Music To Our Ears


One of the easiest ways to make lasting connections between people is with a little bit of music.


According to Caroline Hissa, Executive Director of the Community Music School of Waterloo Region, “participating in the arts is a vital human experience.”

“Learning how to make music—and actually making it together—builds belonging in our community in very real ways,” she explains.


"Music is a common language. It connects children and youth over language or financial barriers. That connectivity is the heart of what it means to belong." 

The Community Music School has been using music to empower children and youth throughout Waterloo Region for the past five years. While this may sound like a simple mission, they work incredibly hard to help participants overcome financial barriers and access what are typically expensive programs.

Buying or renting an instrument and paying for lessons are expenses that many families cannot afford. In order to overcome this barrier, the Community Music School charges a flat rate of $40 for lessons ($20 per term, which run in the fall and winter). The fee is also negotiable for families who are unable to afford it. Instruments are loaned, and educational materials, such as music books, are free. This allows children and youth to access programs and not be left out of extra-curricular activities.

Funding from the KWCF has helped enable the Community Music School to build sustainable programming. This means they will be able to do more good throughout the community for the foreseeable future.

Acquiring funding helped them purchase educational materials and instruments, hire dedicated staff, and provide honorariums for facilitators who provide invaluable time, talent, and knowledge.

In true community spirit, all of the program participants are referred from other local organizations. “We provide the referral criteria to the organizations and then they refer children and youth they feel would be a good fit to the program,” Caroline explains. Participant referrals come from Carizon, House of Friendship, Delton Glebe Counselling Centre, Front Door, Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, and others.

The Community Music School works hard to provide a space where, as Caroline says, “everyone is welcome, each participant is mentored and supported, and participants and their families feel like they belong.”

Click here to download and read the KWCF's 2017 Annual Report.