The Opening Bars of the CODA

Posted by Adrian Anantawan on Wednesday, July 13, 2011
AS A YOUNG TEENAGER, I attended “band camps” every summer like the SMI, eager to learn as many violin concertos as possible in the my few short weeks away from home. However, my absolute favorite experiences revolved around working with my new found friends and peers, to rehearse and perform pieces of music written for small ensembles, known as chamber music. The name derives from the small “chambers”—salons or living rooms—where this music was performed during the 18th and 19th centuries.

IN MAY 2011, on one of our preliminary visits to Hawthorne Public Elementary School (now a partner school with the CODA Project), I conducted a faux interview of twelve year-old Hannah, to gauge some of her prior knowledge of classical music: “If I were to say the phrase chamber music what comes to your mind?”

She had a few thoughts, some ranging from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to being trapped in chains. I eventually opened up the question to Hannah’s classmates, and after a few seconds, one boy raised his hand provided the most popular answer amongst his classmates: jail.

THIS WAS PRECISELY the reason we had decided to start the Community Outreach for Developing Artists Project, or CODA. While we had a wonderful time teaching and coaching some of Canada’s brightest young talents as faculty members of the SMI, we realized that there were many skills they would require in the 21st century, outside of their scales and etudes. In our introduction of the project to the students, we opened with the adage:

“Performing at Carnegie Hall won’t be the only way you’ll be able to reach your audiences and make a meaningful difference in this world.”

Indeed, in lieu of economic turmoil, this world of theirs was gradually siphoning off resources to the arts in general; educating young audiences about the joys of classical music would be key to sustaining our relevance into the future.

In June of 2010, Bryan and I started developing the CODA Project with the premise, “why not start training outreach skills to kids sooner than later?” We had been blessed with the opportunities to hone such skills during our college years, through mandated outreach performances on concert tours, and also sporadic courses at school. No such artists teaching skills were being offered to pre-collegiate musicians, so during the two-weeks we had in the 2011 SMI, we decided to create workshops to train our students (aged 12 to 18) to present outreach programs for specific schools and social programs in the Ottawa community. This would be a tricky endeavor, as a bulk of their schedule was already devoted to practicing and chamber music rehearsals. Time would be tight.

However, we were banking on the fact that they would enjoy sharing with their peers, no younger than them, the joys of classical music, an in doing so, finding a deeper understanding of its meaning in their lives.

Tags: nac  coda  smi  "pinchas zukerman" 

The CODA Project

Created in 2010 by myself and colleague Bryan Wagorn, the Community Outreach for Developing Artists (CODA) program was implemented June 2011 at the National Arts Centre (NAC) Summer Music Institute (SMI), founded by Isreali violinist Pinchas Zukerman.