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Thursday, June 18 • 3:45pm - 5:15pm
The Power of Music - Valerie Shapiro, Joanne Ruksenas

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The Power of Music:

Abstract #96
The Community Building Power of Choral Singing
Presenter: Valerie Shapiro Co - Presenters: Simon Abbott, Breanne Beckett
Phoenix Youth Programmes has been caring for youth in Halifax for over 25 years, and there’s a lot more that makes a person a person than just food and shelter. The blossoming personalities in our choir point to the real challenges in the lives of many of the youth who are welcomed at Phoenix: a feeling of isolation and lack of understanding, no bright moments of achievement to look back on, a personal narrative of being unmotivated or anti-social or a trouble-maker.
This paper presentation will be about the discoveries from the startling success of the Phoenix Community Choir. It will be about the impact of a vibrant, accepting and genuine community, the impact of moments of personal success in performance. We will draw from literature on the social benefits of choral singing and how that relates to building protective factors in the lives of our youth. We will present beautiful stories from Phoenix Choir’s short but crowded history. Best of all, we will share some of the choir’s music.

Abstract #241
Resilience - What Does Music Have To Do With It?
Presenter: Joanne Ruksenas
The introduction of the new Australian national curriculum has seen music increasingly marginalised in preschool and kindergarten classes, traditionally music rich environments.  This parallels a rise in suspensions and expulsions across this age group.  I conducted a mixed-measures study to present a case for music in the curriculum, observing 182 children taking part in early childhood music at different centres in the Brisbane area over a three year period.  From this pool, a group of 87 children were nominated by their parents for interviews, and cognitive testing.  My aim was to determine whether actively engaging with music effects resilience in preschool children.   I targeted resilience because it is a non-musical outcome that is not defined by other learning areas.  Resilience appears to be intrinsically embedded in the process of active music making, which is an important factor.  Structured music lessons, where children learn through singing and movement are important in reducing stress, increasing feelings of belonging, general well-being, and competence.   These factors have follow on effects on memory and learning.  If, as some theorists claim, we are all resilient, but some of us show it in more socially acceptable ways, active engagement with music seems to be a nudge in the right direction.


Joanne Ruksenas

Joanne is a PhD candidate from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Her research examines the benefits of active engagement in music on resilience in preschool aged children. Her research stems from her experiences as a teacher in music and special education in classroom and... Read More →

Valerie Shapiro

I have an overall passion for working with youth and as a result have always felt a strong connection to Phoenix and its vision and mandate. I feel proud to be a part of the dynamic staff team at Phoenix.Much of my professional work has been in diverse social service fields. I started... Read More →


Simon Abbot

Choir Director at Phoenix Youth Programs

Breanne Beckett

Arts Administrator at Phoenix Youth Programs

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:45pm - 5:15pm EDT
Shatford Room A&A 2nd Floor, King's College

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