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My Batmitzvah Mitzvah - Sarah Cranko

Helping out at the Ifidyoli Ensemble - Music for Africa Trust

I have two passions; one is swimming and the other one is music. For my “Batmitzvah Mitzvah”, I originally wanted to teach underprivileged children to swim, because swimming is an important life skill. However, it was more difficult than I expected to find and join an organisation that teaches kids to swim on a regular basis. Helping a teacher once or twice during a swimming clinic did not seem enough to make a difference, and I really wanted to make this Mitzvah Project count, for others and for me personally.The second option that came to mind was doing something with music. One may say that music is not vital, and not as high on the list of making a difference compared to feeding hungry children or teaching them a life skill, but to me music is necessary because it makes me happy. I play the violin and other instruments and I love to sing. Music is an incredibly important part of my life, maybe even the most important when I think about it.I have been taking music lessons for years at the Beau Soleil Music Centre across the road from Temple Israel. I have been in all kinds of ensembles and I have known about and heard the Ifidyoli Ensemble, which is orchestra of the Centre’s outreach programme. Some of the kids from this programme have been in the orchestras I have been in, but most kids I have never really connected with because we are from different cultures.Many of the Ifidyoli children don’t go to good schools and don’t have any extra mural activities like we do. They don’t have many opportunities. And this is where I think the Ifidyoli outreach programme is really important: it makes sure that not only priviliged children get to learn to make (classical) music.My involvement is as follows. Ms. Kathleen Garrity, the leader of the programme, doesn’t have many staff members to help teach the children. They often have group lessons, which is never as effective as individual lessons(like I have always received myself). So, for a couple of hours a week I am available and I help teach individual children to learn their pieces, I also help with music theory classes, and I sometimes sit in the orchestra and play along to support the different violin sections. I am on standby to do anything else that needs doing such as copying sheet music, making sandwiches for the tea break, tuninginstruments and just being an extra pair of hands.As of January 2014, I have commited to helping out once a week until the big Beau Soleil Gala Concert at the City Hall in August. This yearly concert will feature all Beau Soleil orchestras including the Ifidyoli Ensemble and is an important fund raiser for the Music Centre.As I said above, I believe that to make a difference, a once off thing isn’t enough. Helping out for longer will give me the opportunity to get to know the children and help them better with their music. I also hope the “distance” both I and they experience because we are from different backgrounds, will get less. I intend to donate part of any money I receive as Batmitzvah gifts to this same cause, and as a family we plan on donating an instrument to the programme. Actually, I think this outreach programme is an initiative that all of us could be supporting. I appeal to all of you in the community tojoin us in doing so by buying tickets for the gala concert when I advertise them in a couple of months’ time, and/or to give a donation for the Ifidyoli kids’ bus or train tickets to the Music Centre or other costs to keep this programme going!Sarah Hannah Rose Cranko, 22 March 2014

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