Instrument player in Burnaby, BC gives kids a chance to play

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Joe Keithley shows off a violin and guitar donated in Burnaby, British Columbia on December 16. The City of Burnaby is hosting an instrument drive to collect donations on Sunday.Darryl Dyck / The Globe and Mail

Joe Keithley, city councilor in Burnaby, British Columbia, and member of punk band DOA, recalls finding out in high school that learning to play a musical instrument can be a social catalyst.

It is a belief that inspired him to launch Harmony for All, a program that offers music lessons and instruments to low-income children. It was launched in 2019, but this year it has official support from the City of Burnaby, which is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday to collect donations.

“Music has this power that nothing else has,” Mr. Keithley said in an interview. “We live in a time of chaos and the world is not in a very good shape right now. But the only thing anyone can relate to is music. And it’s like the universal language of love.

The instruments collected this weekend will be distributed next spring.

The city agreed in November to contribute $ 72,000 to Harmony for All, as well as to develop grants to help Burnaby residents pay for music programs.

The Burnaby Fire Department charity has also supported the program from the start. In the first year, the organization donated $ 10,000 and pledged to donate that amount each year for the next 10 years.

“It’s about helping the people in our community every day,” said Jeff Clark, president of the Burnaby Firefighters Association. “And when we looked at Harmony for All, it gives the children of Burnaby the chance to own and play a musical instrument that their family might not have been able to afford. And we see it as a life changing.

Once the instruments are collected, the program will consider how to return them to families. Phase two aims to provide low cost or free music lessons to residents of Burnaby.

Mr Keithley said he hopes the program will bring together diverse groups within the city.

“Burnaby is a city with over 100 different languages ​​spoken here, you know we’re one of the most diverse cities in all of Canada. And I think what music can do is break through cultural barriers and really help new Canadians fit in with their friends and have fun with them, ”he said.

The program also brought together communities from the Lower Mainland. Mr. Keithley described how, in 2019, residents of Vancouver Island traveled to Burnaby to help with the effort.

The collection of donations will take place in the main parking lot of the town hall on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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