Music is an integral part of culture in Newfoundland and Labrador, part of its history and heritage. It’s no surprise that fostering that love of music through music education is top of mind for Memorial University’s Dean of Music, Dr. Ian Sutherland.

Growing up in Lewisporte in the 1980’s, Dr. Sutherland recalls there were plenty of opportunities for music education. “There were a number of very good musicians, music teachers, community music leaders; so, if you wanted to take piano lessons, it was there,” he explains.

But with a shrinking population, this abundance of opportunity for music education is no longer the case in rural parts of the province. In his first year as Dean, Dr. Sutherland visited high schools around the province, and was surprised by the lack of music teachers and extracurricular lessons available to those residing outside the St. John’s metro region.

It was this realization, and Sutherland’s desire to make music accessible to everyone—especially children— that gave birth to Giocoso, a social enterprise educational program designed to serve rural areas of the province.

Giocoso (named for an Italian word used in music, meaning, “to play joyfully”), began in early 2019 as a pilot project in the Clarenville area. The process began with a consultation with music educators and community leaders to figure out what opportunities were currently offered in their region, and what students
were looking for that was not currently offered. The program then aims to connect graduate students from the School of Music with students in the area to develop new programs and initiatives to fill those gaps.

“We want to provide music-learning opportunities to young musicians, even those who’ve never taken a lesson or held an instrument, providing instruction to them at as little cost as possible,” says Dr. Sutherland.

As part of the program, graduate students will instruct children in the use of new instruments or provide advanced lessons in particular areas of music. This means the graduate students are not only providing music education to budding musicians, but are developing their own business and entrepreneurial skills.

“We want to provide music-learning opportunities to young musicians, even those who’ve never taken a lesson or held an instrument, providing instruction to them at as little cost as possible.”

– Dr. Ian Sutherland, School of Music, Memorial University

Dean of Music, Memorial University All the income generated from the project
will be reinvested into the program, enabling Giocoso to be expanded into other areas of the province. Dr. Sutherland hopes that the sustainable social enterprise model will help reinstate some of the lost capacity in music education around the province, as well as provide valuable learning opportunities in business development skills and community outreach for the graduate students leading
the program.

“At its heart, this project is focused on bringing the joy of learning music to as many people as possible.”


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