Every year graduating Music Performance & Technology students work together to put on one final show of all original tunes. This project gives students the opportunity to put everything they’ve learned into practice, and it gives faculty, friends, family, and the community a chance to see how far each student has come!
This year Metalworks Institute students turned their event – The Collab Show, into a fundraiser for Make Music Matter – an organization that provides music therapy to people affected by conflict, HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence. Students raised $2,200 by selling admission tickets and raffling off prizes donated by local businesses.
We interviewed the founder of Make Music Matter – Darcy Ataman, and some of the students who helped organize the show to learn more about the organization and the experience.
Vocal Major Samantha Nikolich had some wonderful things to say about the process:
What has it been like being involved with Make Music Matter?
“Getting the opportunity to work with Make Music Matter was extremely eye-opening. This organization has taken music and music-therapy to an entirely new level… one that we felt was inspiring to help with and to share with as many people as we could.”
What does Make Music Matter mean to you and the other students?
“Make Music Matter means strength and opportunity. It is taking music to its truest form and inspiring those who need it most to use music as a tool to conquer anything. It’s helping women understand their worth and their place in this world. From doing the research and talking with the founder, Darcy Ataman, Make Music Matter has inspired me as a musician to take music and use it to inspire and educate others, to put everything you have into what you’re doing and to never give up.”
Did the show meet your expectations?
“This show did not come easy to us, and I think many of us could attest to that statement. We had many difficulties going through this process, but in the end, it made us a stronger musical family.
Without the help of [our instructors] Dave Patel, Craig Titus and Davor Jordanovski, this show would not have happened. We had many early morning and late night practices, especially at the end, that brought everything to life and gave us something we were extremely proud of.
The night of the show couldn’t have gone better, everything fell into place and we embraced every moment on stage, which only made it more rewarding. Having a full house was not something we expected to have and the amount of sponsors and donations was a sight to see. So, I think the show definitely exceeded expectations. We came, we completed, we conquered. I’m so proud of our graduating family.”
This certainly isn’t the first time that Metalworks Institute students have gotten involved with Make Music Matter. Metalworks Institute students actually mix many of the songs recorded as part of the program, and Darcy Ataman and David Bottrill visit the school regularly to critique the students’ work. We asked Darcy about his experiences working with Metalworks Institute students and his hopes for the future.
What are your hopes for Make Music Matter going forward?
“I’d like to see it protected as a medical intervention. Once that happens, then the ultimate goal is to farm out this model of music therapy and creation all over the planet in any area of conflict, post-conflict, or even community campuses around the world. Anywhere where there is trauma that needs to be addressed in a manner that typical cognitive behaviour therapy techniques won’t work..and that’s the ultimate goal.
What’s also happening is sort of redefining the notion of power to me…a really good example I can give is one of our participants Sandra, who was orphaned at 16, raped at 18, became pregnant – lost the child, became HIV positive, spent 2 years at Panzi hospital just for physical surgery – to become functional again, and then went into our program and psychologically, mentally, spiritually repaired, wrote one of our best songs called ‘My Body Is Not a Weapon’. That song then was recently performed by guys from Billy Talent in the Senate Chamber in Canada.
I just love that you can take somebody who obviously comes from difficult circumstances…and if she can create something that has voice in the highest chamber of our country, performed by one of our biggest rock stars, what does that say about the notion and definition of power.”
Do you have anything you would like to say about your experiences with Metalworks students?
“It’s all, frankly, been so fantastic… at first I really came in with the notion that ‘oh shoot they’re doing us a favor’, and I kind of felt bad – for taking up the time, quite frankly. And as this has gone along it has become more and more apparent to me that the students and the school truly love working on [the mixes], and actually appreciate being connected to the wider world… demonstrating that their skills and art have value other places in the world. I love it, i do… I have a lot of fun being in the studio and listening to the mixes and giving feedback to the students.”
Is there anything else you would like to say to students?
“I was pleasantly surprised to hear about this fundraiser – again I appreciate it tremendously. And what I want students to know is that sometimes in North America Music can be seen as a bit throw-away – you know, it’s in the background, it’s entertainment, and it’s all well and good, but in a lot of these places that we work in, it really is life and death, and that’s because it is the final mode of validating one’s feelings, expressing, and communicating in some way; because the notion of music and singing is just about the last things you can take away from somebody if they’re poor or in a conflict zone, because singing is free. Therefore in these areas, it is so universal, and I have met survivors, I have worked with ex-child soldiers, who have literally told me that music has given them a reason to get up one more day and try, and it really is that powerful in those areas…as people go through their studies, I want them to remember those things.”
Make Music Matter has established facilities in Rwanda & The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is currently working towards building a site in Turkey to help Syrian refugees. You can find out more about Make Music Matter and listen to some of the music created through the program by visiting their Facebook Page.
Last but not least we have some testimonials from three of our Music Performance & Technology students about The Collab Show, Metalworks Institute, and Make Music Matter.
“The live performance gave us a chance to truly experience part of the tedious path a musician must go through. It tested our technique, challenging our creativity at every corner. It tested our beliefs in our own music in how we picked each song and it tested our communication skills – challenging us to be fully honest with each other so we could put out the best possible product. The performance was the perfect lesson.” – Sage Archer
“Our ensemble show meant the world to me as a writer. To perform my original songs, with not only my friends, but some of the finest musicians I know? To a packed house, and have them lose their minds? That was something truly special, and something I will remember for a very long time.” – Matthew Campbell
“My time at Metalworks has been nothing short of amazing. Because of my extended time at the school, I saw things in a whole new light for myself. Not only did we learn about Theory and Business and Recording and Performance – I learned how to be confident in myself as a musician and a human being. I can’t thank the people at Metalworks or my fellow classmates enough for everything that I have learned over the last couple of years. To finish off our studies with this show was the most incredible experience. It was the hardest, most stressful, and yet most rewarding thing we’ve had to do thus far. It was the perfect introduction into us branching out into the music industry. I’m so excited to see what everyone does in the music industry because, I can tell you right now, this graduating class is going to do big things! Thank you Make Music Matter and Metalworks for giving us the perfect send off into this incredible industry.” – Samantha Nikolich