Artists in the Classroom


In 2006, three friends came together to perform a one-time concert.  But that one time concert eventually propelled Cobourg natives, Sue Passmore and Kerri Ough (both former members of La Jeunesse Girls’ choir under the direction of Marie Anderson), and their university friend Caroline Brooks, into Canadian music stardom as the trio, “The Good Lovelies”.

With four studio albums, a pair of EP’s, a live album, and a Christmas album behind them, The Good Lovelies have become an established part of the Canadian music scene.  In March 2018, they will be continuing to take their Canadian sound to the world with a tour in Australia.

But just as generous as The Good Lovelies are with their music, they are also generous with their time.  Sue Passmore excitedly accepted an invitation from SONG Artistic Director, Marie Anderson, to come into the classroom and work with students on a song-writing project.  Sue and the SONG kids explored thoughts about the world and how we can help each other make a better world.

There were many ideas shared, but one notable moment came when a SONG student made the observation of, “how awesome I really am!”  All of the ideas being generated this winter and all the creative activities of our upcoming annual workshop are set to culminate in the spring concert on Saturday, May 26th…a concert appropriately entitled “Kids-4-Kids”.


String “Knights”

string knighting

Rituals are an important way of marking life’s milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. In the string class at Beatrice Strong, we have a special “ceremony” for our beginners when they have earned the privilege of taking their instruments home. This long-awaited rite of passage was initiated in the third year of our string program by one of our “alumni”, Jade Weller – one of the “Original Twelve” as I sometimes refer to the group who piloted our string group.

Each child is presented with a certificate acknowledging their ability to care for their instrument, and then one of the experienced players “dubs” them on the shoulder – as for a knight – using their bow. This is the ONLY time that bows are permitted to be used as “swords”, I might point out. Clearly, someone was paying attention during the Medieval Times unit in grade 4, although we do not require the novice players to kneel before the experienced ones!

The parallels to the process of knighthood for our beginner string players include period of serving as a “page” (remember the cardboard violins??), and then as “squires” – apprentices learning skills with the equipment, note reading, rehearsal etiquette, and respect for instructors. Even after they have been “dubbed” our young knights must continue to demonstrate their worthiness through personal practice in order to improve their individual abilities.

Another interesting connection to the aspect of “knighthood”, is the character traits of the Code of Chivalry which a knight was expected to uphold. Many of these same qualities can be found in our school codes of ethics:  respect, perseverance, honesty, initiative, optimism, fairness. In the SONG string program, we have distilled these characteristics into four main “pillars” as follows:

1. We respect one another
2. We help each other
3. We work, sing, and play together
4. We try to do our best

These values fall into place in the string program in the way the students learn to support one another and work collectively and individually. These qualities are also modelled and encouraged by our amazing team of volunteers.

 Congratulations to our new “String Knights”!

 – Deborah Henderson,
Director of Strings

The Music of Friends


Great things indeed come in small packages. At SONG, we’re introducing our senior violinists to chamber music—a form of classical music composed for a small group of musicians (often three or four players), each with their own part to play. Thanks to the ongoing support from the D’Addario Foundation for our instruments, we are excited to be developing our first string quartet!

Of course, with SONG, it’s not about the end result but the PROCESS. Playing strings is hard work. It takes discipline and commitment to learn the instrument. Which means, it’s empowering. We’re really connecting to the theme of empowering this semester (see last week’s blog post), with our SONG team guiding students to ultimately meet their greatest potential where the success of one means the success of the group.

Fittingly, chamber music is known as “the music of friends.” Originally played in the home, the name comes from centuries ago when small groups of musicians were hired to fit a palace “chamber.” At SONG, we see friendships blooming, along with self-confidence—musically and, most importantly, socially.

Chamber music can also teach us about collaboration and leadership—because traditionally there is no conductor! There’s one student to a part of music, and each member of the group strives to play beautifully together. Meantime, SONG is striving to create a dedicated mentorship program to see something small become something very big!

You can help us by making a donation—no amount is too small, and always has BIG impact.



[Photo Credit:  Nicolette Jakab]

Focusing on Empowerment

chestnut tree

This season, from January to June, SONG is exploring the theme of empowerment—kids helping kids, making a difference in the world, changing lives in small ways that make a lasting difference.
SONG participants are looking at real-life children like Anne Frank who has become an inspiration to people all over the world. While hiding from the Nazis in World War II, she was able to write this in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world….Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
This young girl in hiding was able to find happiness looking out her window at a beautiful tree. SONG is learning a song written about that tree called “The Freedom Tree,” which is now nurtured as a symbol of hope and freedom in Amsterdam.
Our spring concert will be entitled “Kids 4 Kids”, Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Trinity United Church (3:00pm).

Matching campaign sends SONG soaring


The local children’s charity Sounds of the Next Generation (SONG) is thrilled to announce having achieved, above and beyond, its first quarter fundraising goal. Dedicated donors gave generously in the final weeks of 2017, along with new donors joining the cause. A very special thank you goes out to our anonymous “Guardian Angel” whose matching gift of $5,000 brought the grand total to $12,050!

“I have seen such incredible changes and advances brought about with these young children, our future, over the short time that the talented and dedicated teachers and volunteers work with them, along with the mutual enthusiasm and love for making music that they all share,” says our generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous. “I definitely want, in my small way, to be part of it all.”

Although a free, socially-inclusive music program for the children, it does cost $1000 per year per child to participate in SONG, where each child receives:

  • Exceptional musical instruction by our renowned Artistic Director, Marie Anderson, and choral and strings instructors for 9 months, totaling more than 300 hours per child per year
  • Workshops with guest musicians to enhance exceptional learning in music-making
  • Instruments, including violins and cellos
  • Sheet music
  • A SONG t-shirt as a uniform
  • Healthy snacks at each rehearsal and performance

The fiscal year for SONG is September 1 to August 31, and the fall campaign is the kick-start to keeping SONG thriving.  Now in its 5th year, and having had more than 217 children and youth come through its doors, SONG has big plans for expanding and reaching even more children.  It’s community support like this that keeps us singing!  We are so grateful.  Thank you, everyone!



(Photo Credit:  Nicolett Jakab)

Double your impact!


Christmas is coming early for SONG!

A generous donor has come forward to match dollar-for-dollar the first $5,000 raised between December 1st and 24th.

Donate between December 1st and 24th and DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT for a brighter future! SONG believes that any child in Northumberland County who wishes for a music education should be given the opportunity!

A $50 gift becomes $100, a $100 gift becomes $200, and so on. Doubling your donation means opening the doors of possibility to two children instead of one. Please give by December 24th to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to double the impact of your generosity!

How to Donate:

1. Mail a cheque to: SONG, P.O. Box 67, Cobourg ON K9A 4K2 and write “Matching Gift Campaign” in the memo; or
2. Donate online at and write “Matching Gift Campaign” as your message.

(Photo credit: Nicolett Jakab)


macey assisting

At SONG, we are reaching milestones! This is our 5th year of providing exceptional music education for children and youth in Northumberland County, Ontario. We cannot do it without our incredibly supportive community, nor the amazing kids who keep coming to sing their hearts out—and challenge themselves with a new instrument!

We are so thrilled for one of our long-time participants who, after four years in SONG and learning the violin with us, was recently accepted into La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra! Congratulations Macey!

Macey joined SONG when we first opened our doors in 2013. After her first year in choir, she took on learning the violin. When Macey graduated from Grade 6 at Beatrice Strong P.S. (where we run the program in Port Hope, Ontario), she continued to return to the strings class for another two years. In Grade 8, Macey showed up at every rehearsal to volunteer as a mentor to the younger children. Now in her first year at Port Hope H.S., Macey counts her continued hours of mentoring the children of SONG toward her community service credit that’s required of high school students.

“Macey is a committed volunteer and dedicated student, both at school and at the violin,” says SONG strings instructor Deborah Henderson. “She practices regularly and has learned how to get the most out of a rehearsal. The fact that she successfully auditioned for LJYO after only four years of playing is proof of this work ethic.”

At SONG, we see kids thriving and everyone is welcome—our afterschool music program is free of barriers and cost. Kids just need to bring their enthusiasm and curiosity!