With Canadian Music Week happening in Toronto right now, all of the Canadian musicians involved in it are pretty busy between playing concerts, attending the awards shows, and networking. However, that didn’t stop singer-songwriter Luke Correia-Damude of the Toronto-based indie country band Future Peers from taking some time out of his busy schedule to visit the YMCA Academy music program. He shared with the students how he writes his songs, starting with an idea and building it into a finished product.
The YMCA Academy takes an experimental approach to learning as an alternative school for students with mild learning disabilities or learning style differences. Correia-Damude felt a personal connection with the school’s focus on special education and commented:
“I grew up struggling with a learning disability and music was a really significant part of my development,” he says. “It was a language I could decipher at a time when literally just deciphering words was a huge obstacle. Music showed me that I could learn and that I was good at something.”
The music program is new and music teacher Todd Harrison hopes that other musicians will contribute to the program like Correia-Damude.
“Our students have been asking for a Music program for years. It’s easy to see why: music lets students express themselves, develop their leadership skills, and build confidence and coordination,” he explains. “The curriculum is scalable and flexible, too, which has allowed me to build a course purpose-built to my students’ interests and abilities and invite fantastic local musicians like Luke into my class to share their experiences with my students.”
The YMCA Academy’s music program focuses mainly on Canadian content, allowing for local musicians to visit the students. It also differs from traditional music programs by helping the students celebrate themselves as musicians, rather than focusing on band music.
“When Todd asked me to come in and speak to his class I was more than happy to oblige,” explains Luke. “It is so important that kids find music. It can change your life and the sooner you explore it and consume it the sooner you just might find that missing piece to your puzzle.”