Just this week, Ellen visited a Grade five classroom and spoke about the power of music. She asked, “What does music do to you? Some answers – “It feeds my insides.” “It helps me cry when I need to.” “It makes me wanna dance.” “Music is my world.”
Stevie Wonder sang, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.” Ellen saw this power consistency with her son, Jacob. He couldn’t speak, but music filled his soul. As soon as he heard one note, his eyes would light up with anticipation and he would instantly connect to the music and the person playing that music.
What is it about music that speaks so deeply inside us? Is it the melody? Is it the lyrics? Is it the beat? Or is it all of the above? It is very easy to click and listen, but to master an instrument, well, that’s dedication, hard work and God-given talent. Tonight, we had some hometown musical legends who all had harmonious lessons to share.
Years ago, Jacob spent many months in the hospital. There was a time when he wasn’t responsive and he just slept. Kayla, our first guest, came down to visit. Jakey loved Kayla. She entered the hospital room and made these notes, that she does with her lips – and do you know what Jakey did? He smiled. This was when Ellen first realized that music was the language that Jakey spoke fluently.
Kayla is a prominent figure in the children’s music industry. For more than 30 years, she has been teaching children and parents alike, the joy that music can bring to their lives. She has a degree in music (BFA.Mu.) and she is an Educator, Writer, Performer and Entertainer. Kayla has written three popular children’s CDs; ‘The Purple Birthday Cake’, ‘Come Spin with Me’ and the Parent’s Choice Award-winning, ‘Splish Splash Kerplash’.
Kayla spoke about her own musical experience, which she said began with her nursery school teacher. And so, ironically, it came full circle when she became a children’s entertainer and music teacher, herself.
Kayla grew up in a small town, where she picked up a guitar and along with her friends, they would teach each other songs. She always wanted to follow her idol, Joni Mitchell, but her parents were not on board. Instead, she started playing music for children at a summer camp. So her next idol, became other children’s singers. It was here, where Kayla began writing children’s songs. At this camp, Kayla was then invited to come to a child’s birthday and that is what launched the beginning of her in-house music program. That is where she met Ellen and Jacob.
From there, Kayla went on to write a children’s musical called, ‘The Wisdom of Winston’. The songs from this musical became the songs on her first album. Not only did she become Polkeroo’s sidekick on TV Ontario and sing on Treehouse TV, Kayla performed concerts all over North America.
Ultimately, what Kayla learned and the message she wanted to share, was that, when an unexpected door opens, don’t be afraid to walk through it. That opportunity changed her entire life, by giving her a career that has brought her so much joy.
“Follow your dreams, work hard and persevere. It’s all worth it!The joy from anyone experiencing your music is purely magical.”
Thank you Kayla, for all the magic you have created for your listeners.
Our next guest became friends with Ellen over their shared love for music and their love for their children. Jacob and Jack’s daughter, Mercey, were classmates at a school for children with complex needs. Turns out, this “Dad” was, Jack Lenz – composer extraordinaire! Ellen just knew him as Mercey’s incredibly loving father.
Jack Lenz is a Canadian composer, who has written, performed, and produced music for film, television, and theatre all over the world. He was a professional musician and musical director for Seals and Crofts and Loggins and Messina. Lenz has also written and produced songs for Andrea Bocceli, Celine Dion, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Josh Groban and The Canadian Tenors.
In fact, he wrote a song that every single one of you has heard and sang many times….’Okay, Blue Jays…Let’s Play Ball’. To check out more about this incredibly impressive human being – go to his website; JackLenzMusic.com
Jack feels that within all our hearts, there are ‘noble sentiments’. For him the purpose of art, is to awaken those sentiments. Those real feelings of love, kindness and compassion stem from the awakening of the heart. This is the impact for which Jack has always strived.
Jack also feels that artists are the eyes and ears of humanity. They awaken those sentiments in us and help us go up ‘the ladder of music’. The heart and soul of a person can ascend this ladder and truly feel something they never have before, through the power of music. It becomes something that gives you a feeling that leads to beauty, compassion and kindness. And it is all connected to the powers of imagination and curiosity. Music reverberates within our soul.
Jack recalled a story about Albert Einstein, who as a child struggled with school, but said that music taught him a sense of order and peace. Music can lead you to being a better human being. Its harmonious beauty can lead you to act a certain way and become a better person. Jack strongly encourages the arts to awaken this sensibility.
Jack ended by citing an essay by Leon Tolstoy, “What is art?” All great art is universal and it comes from a spiritual impulse within us. When combined, it allows us to transcend the dust of everyday life and makes us more compassionate and kind. Through music, we can all experience that feeling.
Thank you Jack for these incredible insights into the beauty of music.
Abby and Sarah tuned in from Halifax, where they attend University. It is here where they continue to play music and even continue to join in the weekly Sunday Jam Concerts. Abby and Sara, sang an original song called, ‘On Our Own’. They reminded us that, as long as you love and support yourself, you are never alone.
Last season you met our next guest, who is a previous recipient of the ‘Joey Award’ from Project Give Back. This award is presented to a past student of Project Give Back who continues to make an impact in their community and beyond.
Arissa Roy is now 16 years old. She is a youth activist, author, and the founder of an international organization- ‘Project Power Global’, (www.projectpowerglobal.org). She is an advocate for mental health awareness and climate, with a focus on access to education. Just recently she was invited to the United Nations Headquarters to represent the voice of youth.
Arissa’s passion for advocacy was sparked at the mere age of 9, when she took part in PGB herself. She continues her connection with our program to this day. Arissa recalled how music and art has always been a crucial part of her own journey. In fact, when Arissa recently spoke at the UN, she spoke about the quality of education and the importance of the integration of art and music in curriculum throughout the world!
Arissa also shared two of her current projects. The first is a book that she wrote called, “Rocks to Ripples”. It teaches young people that they all have the ability to make a difference in this word. The book is a tribute to her grandmother, who recently passed away. It recounts many of her grandmother’s life lessons; one which states that, we can all make a difference. We are all change makers; a sentiment that is echoed by PGB as well.
Her next project is a documentary that she filmed during her most recent trip to India and Nepal. Arissa documents how young people are impacted by their barriers to education. Her ultimate goal is to better their education system. As always, Arissa had PGB in mind, as it has reminded her about the integration of global citizenship. Her final message; we all have the power to create an impact on this world through our own ripples of change. Turns out, that Arissa is not just creating a ripple, but rather a tidal wave!
Lindsay, @One2GiveTo concluded the episode. She reminded us that, as Halloween is approaching, to look at it through a lease of equity and inclusion. Consider giving some of your treats away to make someone else smile. Both smiling and kindness are contagious!
Thank you once again to all our incredible guests who have nourished all our hearts and souls with their immense talents and wisdom.