While making music may not be the first method that springs to mind when talking about youth outreach work, Invermere Family Resource Centre youth worker Matthew Chapman feels it can play an important role.
“What helps youth, for the most part I think, is the lyrical expression, and being able to talk about whatever they want in their lyrics,” Chapman said.
“Being able to record and then listen to their own issues outside of themselves… I’ve noticed this has a major impact on almost every participant in the program.”
The program in question is the new-to-the-valley Music Saves the Soul, based in Edgewater, Canal Flats and Invermere.
Chapman holds weekly sessions in each of the three communities, where he helps youth age 14-18 express themselves through music, and gain a little first-hand knowledge of their own. A musician himself, he teaches participants about recording, mixing and mastering tracks. Participants also do musically-based exercises to increase self-confidence.
“The goal is to allow kids who normally don’t have access to this kind of education to have that access, and also to build self-confidence,” said Chapman.
“I know this is an alternative program that falls outside the classic style of youth outreach work, but everyone has really been on board with it.”
Chapman came up with the idea for the program while getting a bachelor of health science in 2001, and started it the same year. But Music Saves the Soul really took off in 2004 when he was working in northern B.C. and the southern Yukon.
When he moved to the valley this year, he decided to launch the program here as well.
The Invermere installment has proven very popular and is full, Chapman says. Programs in Invermere and Edgewater had been running for about a month, and Chapman was about to hold his first Canal Flats session on December 8.
“The program was originally started to offer education around sound engineering and lyrical expression,” Chapman said.
“I wanted to mix the counselling with the fact that I am a musician, to offer youth a different medium to express their passion, and at the same time it’s advantageous to the kids because they learn how to record, and they can walk away from the sessions with something tangible.”
While Chapman would like to culminate the programs with a community concert of youth-made music, he says this idea is still far down the road, after the program settles in each of the three communities. Chapman has held these sorts of concerts in the past, and says they are really the best way to build long term confidence.
“Participants learn the ins and outs of recording, and they have free rein over their content, other than promoting drug use, gang activities or racism,” Chapman said.
“I’m really happy with how the program has been received in all three communities so far—the Columbia Valley has welcomed me with open arms.”
For more information on Music Saves the Soul, call the Family Resource Centre at 250-342-5566.