Amar’s Letter to the OrKidstra family
Dear OrKidstra Community,
My story with OrKidstra began in 2015 when my family moved back to Canada. Through word of mouth, my grandma told me about some kids playing music, and that I should go watch them play. This was the “end of year concert”, taking place at Lisgar Collegiate. The concert was very inspiring, but more than that, I saw myself in the seat of the cello section, eager to play in the ensemble. That very summer I joined. Despite having only a year of experience playing the cello from my secondary school, marked by the stickers still on my instrument for finger positions, I was eager to learn. I had never played in an ensemble before or an orchestra. All considered, the steep learning curve was made easier by the incredible teachers and the nurturing environment of OrKidstra.
Amar and the students of OrKidstra at the premiere of CBC’s documentary “OrKidstra: The Power of Music,” October 2016.
OrKidstra quickly became more than just learning music or learning how to play my cello in tune. In fact, there were countless lessons to be learned, eloquently written into the 10 Leading Notes. With the 10 Leading Notes, the discipline and practice instilled by OrKidstra went so beyond music that I learned leadership skills when the cellos had the pick up, or mentorship skills when I shared a bowing with a younger player. To this day I still live by the 10th leading note: “excellence is a habit” . OrKidstra had a rather subtle and holistic approach to teaching us that I only realized all these years later, applying the teachings in the classroom not only to music but to all aspects of life.
I could talk about the countless lessons I picked up from OrKidstra, like time management. The discipline of being ready for a 4:30 pm downbeat translated into always being prepared and punctual in my later life. Coming prepared, and always having a pencil too. It’s more than just being prepared but making a good impression. Though from all the lessons OrKidstra helped me learn, there was one that probably takes the cake, and that was confidence. OrKidstra puts so much faith into you from a young age, they help you believe in yourself. We have played in front of small crowds, and millions when we played at the Juno Awards, which seems like it was just yesterday. As a group, we had each other’s backs and though we all came from different walks of life, we met each other in the practice room and shared a universal language in music.
OrKidstra Graduates, Peter, Amar, Elizabeth, and Rinila at the End-of-Year Concert, June 2018.
After graduating from OrKidstra in 2018, I went to Carleton university and pursued an Honors Bachelor in Global and International Studies, concentrating in Global Law and Social Justice. This multidisciplinary background, coupled with my love for music, continued as I kept singing and playing the cello. I would come in as a mentor at the Vanier hub, which was exciting because the organization kept growing, and that made me proud. My current role as the head of US Sales Business Development at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP allows me to remain in Ottawa and be close to the organization that has given me so much.
Joining the board of OrKidstra was a full-circle moment for me. It’s an opportunity to give back to the program that gave me so much. As a board member, I aim to contribute to OrKidstra’s growth and ensure that more young people can have the transformative experiences I had.
As we approach the season of giving, I invite you to give what you can to help support OrKidstra. Your contributions help foster not just musical talent but the development of future leaders, thinkers, and compassionate individuals. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of many young musicians, shaping their futures just as OrKidstra shaped mine. If you’ve already made a donation, our deepest thanks to you for playing such a key role in the OrKidstra family.
P.S. The photo archive has been opened, and I am pleased to share some of my photos from my time with OrKidstra and beyond. These memories are a testament to the journey we’ve all shared.
Then students, now “OldKidstra,” Amar, Jennifer, Nancy, and Evelyn at the JUNO Awards, April 2, 2017.