OrKidstra’s “10 Stories of Possibility” – Peter

The OrKidstra logo with the word "Possibility" underneath

Photo of a young, male OrKidstra student named Peter holding a clarinet and smiling.

OrKidstra student Peter at OrKidstra’s 2016 end-of-year concert. Photo by Robert. S Vibert

In honour of our 10th Anniversary year, and our 10 Leading Notes, we’d like to share with you the second of 10 very special stories; 10 stories that illustrate the wonderful possibilities that can happen when kids experience the joys and challenges of making music at OrKidstra! Look out for a new story of possibility on the first of every month and click here for the previous story!  

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing OrKidstra student Peter play, you know how incredibly talented this 16-year-old clarinetist is. Peter first started coming to OrKidstra in 2008. In his own words…

“I was eight years old when I joined OrKidstra. For almost 10 years, OrKidstra has encouraged me to continue improving every day. When I grow up, I want to become a professional musician and I think OrKidstra is definitely helping me to reach my goals: OrKidstra teaches me music as well as helping me to become a better person.

Everybody has their own challenges. I only started talking when I was four. When I did start talking, I was learning Russian, English, and French so I had a really tough time speaking my mind – I still do now – but when I play the clarinet I can really express how I feel. Academics can also be a challenge for me, especially math and science. Thankfully, learning music at OrKidstra has taught me how to approach a problem and find solutions. OrKidstra has given me hope and helped me to deal with the challenges in my life.

One of the things I love about OrKidstra is that everyone helps one another: if someone needs help, you show them what you know and they do the same for you. I really like that the OrKidstra program has kids from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s really great that we all get along, we are all friends and we are able to play fantastic music together; I really like that I get to see my OrKidstra friends many times a week. 

I would say I have gained confidence as well at OrKidstra: having something that you can do very well, like music, helps you to feel strong and gives you more confidence in all areas of your life. That confidence that comes from music positively affects how you think, how you talk to people and really how you do everything in your life. OrKidstra has given me so many amazing experiences and opportunities that are so important for both my personal and musical development, opportunities that are helping me to reach my goal of becoming a professional musician as well as helping me to develop important life skills such as leadership, empathy, and teamwork.

I love that music helps you connect with other people. Music is really a team effort: when you’re playing with others you’re really engaged with those around you. Whenever I play music with others, especially at OrKidstra, it makes me happy to be part of a team that is working towards a common goal! The clarinet is a very versatile instrument – you can play jazz, klezmer, classical – it has a huge range. The clarinet is so diverse that playing it leads me out of my comfort zone to explore its full possibilities. I love being able to express myself through the beautiful sounds of the clarinet.

If I hadn’t started coming to OrKidstra, I don’t think music and the clarinet would be a part of my life. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop the leadership and confidence qualities that I have now and that would really hold me back in every aspect of my life including school. It makes me sad to think about a world where OrKidstra doesn’t exist.

I would like to say thank you to all the OrKidstra donors and supporters: your support is very valuable and we are all very grateful! Support from the donors allows OrKidstra to teach kids music, but more importantly, the donor’s support is helping the kids grow into beautiful people. OrKidstra donors are helping to improve the lives of kids in our community – like me – teaching them important life skills like leadership, self-confidence, teamwork, and kindness. OrKidstra donors are helping kids get ready for success in life: their gift has a big impact. Thank you!”

– Peter, 16, OrKidstra student and OrKidstra apprentice teaching artist
Principal Clarinet, Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA)
2016 winner of the Kiwanis provincial woodwinds competition (Grade 10 RCM)
2016 recipient of a full scholarship for Interlochen Arts Camp
2015 winner of the Kiwanis provincial woodwinds competition (Grade 9 RCM)

(From left to right) National Arts Centre Orchestra Music Director and OrKidstra Ambassador Alexander Shelley with OrKidstra student and Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy member Peter. Photo by Robert S. Vibert