The Regent Park School of Music
Our Impact Why We Exist
Regent Park School of Music is here to give children and youth from high-risk, low income neighbourhoods the chance of a music education that will help them succeed in life. Starting as young as 3 or as old as 17 the kids learn everything from classical piano to guitar to steel pan to electronic music. We offer private, group and ensemble lessons after school and the kids have the chance to perform at over 50 events a year. Our central hub is in the Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park, but we also bring music to hundreds of kids in Jane & Finch, Parkdale and Scarborough. Our goal is to engage kids creatively, build their confidence and self esteem, help them make good friends and keep them safe from the many negative influences around them.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
In 1998, a group of bright and motivated individuals led by lawyer Judith Hinchman had the courage and tenacity to start the school and form a Board of Directors. At the outset, they were struggling to find space that they could afford from which to operate the program. Father Tom Day lived in Regent Park, worked as a pastor at St. Paul’s Basilica and knew many of the families in the area. He loved music and believed in giving children a safe place to go after school. He offered RPSM space in the basement of his church where we ran our first music lessons for almost 2 years. Father Day thereafter became a board member of the school and was instrumental in forging the community relationships necessary to launch our first satellite program at Jane and Finch. Starting with 71 kids in the church the school has now grown to reach over 1,400 kids a year in some of Toronto's toughest neighbourhoods.
Accolades and Accomplishments
- For the last 5 years, every graduating RPSM student has completed high school and gone on to either college or university
- Students from RPSM have performed for Her Majesty The Queen, Jean Chretien, Blue Jays Opening Night, Yo-Yo Ma and Sarah McLachlan
- The students have performed at the Air Canada Centre, Massey Hall, The Canadian Screen Awards and even on the CIBC Trading Floor
Our Programs How We Do It
Regent Park School of Music has over 80 music faculty working in Regent Park, Jane & Finch, Parkdale, Scarborough and other high-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto. As one of them recently said:
"The thing about teaching the kids at Regent Park School of Music is that they are HUNGRY TO LEARN and WILLING TO TRY ANYTHING. All we have to do is set up the right environment to share our musical skills. Once that's done, they astound us all".
Our students are learning: piano, violin, trumpet, flute, classical guitar, saxophone, voice, cello, choir, steel pan, bucket drumming, percussion, hand chimes, recorder, melodica, electric guitar, fiddle, clarinet, ukulele, iPad, turntable, tabla, music history and theory, ear training, improvisation, composition and harmony.
Each child is given an instrument to take home to practise on.
Students receive weekly minute lessons with members of our professional faculty who must have either a degree in music performance or their ARCT with experience in group and individual musical instruction. Many of our teachers are members of local orchestras, choirs and ensembles. Many students are taking private, group and ensemble classes. For example, one student is taking private guitar, is a member of the guitar quartet and also plays in the RPSM Community Band.
Funding and Program Partners
The Regent Park School of Music is able to give over 1,400 kids music each year thanks to the generosity of family foundations, individuals and corporations. Government funding only covers about 5% of our annual budget.
To see a full list of all of our supporters, please see our Annual Report on our website at www.rpmusic.org.
For over 16 years, we have watched our students blossom. "On Stage" - they learn to sing, play and perform. "Back Stage" we build their character, showing them the value of dedication, hard work and co-operation. Their aspirations and confidence gradually rise as they discover what they are capable of, and find the path to a rich, rewarding future. The impact that a music education has on these young people is remarkable. It quietly and magically paves the way to help them succeed in life.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are a high-risk period for unsupervised children. During these hours, children are more likely to engage in gang-related or delinquent behaviour, or become victims of crime. Children in mid-childhood (6-12 years old), who spend time in safe and supervised after-school programming are less likely to experience academic problems, engage in delinquency or be assaulted."
The detrimental effects of poverty on children can be profound and long-lasting. Recent studies show that a child's educational achievement suffers most during the after school and summer hours when environmental factors begin to take their toll. This is where Regent Park School of Music steps in. The after-school, weekend, March Break and summer programs that we offer give the students a creative, nurturing place, where they can, through music, increase their cultural capital, acquire academically orientted skills and values, and perhaps most importantly steer clear of the multitude of negative influences around them.
Students learning music at RPSM develop focus, concentration, skills in expression, creativity, persistence, imagination and the ability to tackle problems. All this leads to a healthier, more positive self image and in some magical way raises their aspirations and helps them succeed in life.
Here is a testimonial from one of our former students which captures what it is like to attend Regent Park School of Music.
"We are all very fortunate to have homes, even if they are not necessarily our own, even if they are in low-income neighbourhoods like Regent Park. However, I must say that the ones that are truly blessed are the ones who looked past our place in society and gave us a second home. Regent Park School of Music doesn't merely provide 8X10 sheets of paper to study. It provides a wealth of knowledge and love that many youth couldn't find anywhere else. This school paints vibrant colours in our lives. The teachers hone more than just our musical ability, but also our character and our confidence. They have helped kids and are helping kids tackle the barriers they've set around themselves, which confine them in their insecurities. They accept us for who we are and then they provide a cloak of care. It's crazy the way RPSM changes lives through music, but at the same time completely understandable. Music triggers emotions and opens the heart to a spiritual connection, and I've been connected. I found home at RPSM, kids are finding homes, and theire is nothing in the world more comforting and beautiful than that. Thank You".
What You Can Do
Give a child the gift of music that will help them succeed in life
It costs RPSM $500 to give one child group music lessons a year, and $1,500 to give one child private lessons.
Your gift will give children and youth from high risk neighbourhoods a creative outlet, that will help them grow and reach their full potential.
You can support music lessons of any type- classical or non, for any age group and in any neighbourhood. In addition to music lessons, your gift will go towards the costs of the many performance opportunities, musical instruments and maintenance, March Break and Summer Camps and program for kids with special needs, the aboriginal community and youth in the youth justice system.
In addition to our core programming, each year we have many special projects that provide unique funding opportunities.