In a perfect world, every child could sing or play an instrument.
This is not a perfect world, which is why Sarah McLachlan felt the need to give kids an opportunity to sing and play when she founded her Sarah McLachlan School of Music. Saturday, a few of the school’s students will perform at her fundraising concert, Voices In The Park.
“Imagine,” McLachlan exclaims. “You’re 14 and you’re onstage with a performer you’ve long admired.”
Those performers include Bryan Adams, Stevie Nicks, Jann Arden, Hedley, Hey Ocean, Chin Injeti, The Boom Booms, The Vancouver Men’s Choir, Whitehorse, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and McLachlan.
“It’s going to be awesome” she says brightly. “I’ve been working on this for months.”
As an aspiring musician in Halifax, McLachlan got her training in guitar, piano and singing at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The school comparatively was more rigid and structured. Still, it was a rare opportunity denied most youth.
“Looking back, what would have come in handy was a course in communication,” McLachlan feels now, continuing to talk of her students. “You don’t need to have training; you just have to have an interest in music.
“The parents say, ‘Thank you so much for doing this. My kid was heading in the wrong direction.’
“We’re not trying to send them to Julliard (the U.S.’s best-known music school), we’re just trying to get them through adolescence.”
McLachlan is reluctant to announce the financial goal of the concert. The building has been donated, the school has its own instruments, but teaching costs are ever-present and the school hopes to expand next year. “We want to get more children involved,” she notes. “It costs about $3,000 per child.”
McLachlan’s involvement in the school is rather like an executive producer’s role.
“We’ve all had a hand in developing the curriculum, yes, I’m very involved in that, but not the teaching” McLachlan explains. Although all the students have been invited to the park, only a few will perform. It’s the performing that gives her the most satisfaction.“When I see the kids performing, I see passion.” she says. “They’re saying, ‘I did this. I can do this.’”