Published on February 1, 2017 | by Krystin Lucas Photography by Chloë Ellingson0
Music to Your Ears
Affording both a musical instrument along with the cost of lessons can add up quickly. This is what motivated one cellist to create a music program where cost was not going to be an issue.
Founded in 2010, Axis Music is tuition-free music program that specializes in violin, piano and cello. The musicians who volunteer offer lessons and workshops for youth living in Toronto Community Housing.
“I wanted to create Axis Music as a way to promote more equal access for young people who wanted to participate and develop their interest in music, but weren’t able to financially do so,” said founder and executive director, Judith Manger.
Students are not required to pay any fees but according to Manger they maintain their spots by practicing at home at least five days a week, as well as attending all workshops.
“I practice a lot because I want to be the best musician ever when I grow up. I play my violin…because I know I can get better,” said nine-year-old Kayla Carpenter, an Axis Music participant who was there with her single dad.
According to Manger, Axis Music receives funding from the Ontario Arts Council as well as the Toronto Arts Council. They’ve also had multiple music establishments such as The Royal Conservatory of Music and George Heinl & Co. Ltd. donate instruments for participant use. Axis Music has also had people volunteer to repair instruments free of charge.
Manger teaches cello lessons along side Tanya Charles teaching violin, and Janice Lindskoog teaching piano.
“When I met Judith and she told me about the program, I really admired what she was doing. I admired her integrity, and I saw that the program she created was providing a quality music education,” said Lindskoog.
Lindskoog said it also allows students to explore musical opportunities, “I know we have at least two students here that feel as though they might pursue music professionally now…at least that’s their dream.”
Manger shared that a cello student who has been with Axis Music since 2010, recently found out that she has been accepted into university for a minor in music.
“The rewarding part of all of this is to see their enthusiasm…It’s so nice to see students wanting to further their musical understanding and education,” Lindskoog said.
The involvement and support of the participants’ parents is also a key reason in the success of the program, according to Manger. Parents are encouraged to stay during the lessons to see the progress their child has made.
“As a single father, there’s no way I would be able to afford to give my kids the music lessons that they want. This was an amazing opportunity for not only my kids, but for the entire community,” said Leon Carpenter, father of Axis Music student Kayla.
Manger hopes to expand beyond the current 18 students and still providing a free music education to children and youth for as long as the community has a need for it.