Arts & Culture, Education


Music has the power to change lives!

OrKidstra is an Ottawa-based charity that empowers kids ages 5-18 and builds community through the universal language of music. We do this by providing children from equity-deserving communities with free instruments and music lessons, which gives them the chance to learn essential life skills – such as teamwork, respect, empathy, and self-discipline – through playing and singing together.

Our Story

Founded in 2007, at the heart of OrKidstra is the beautiful combination of musicianship and citizenship. In its 17th season, OrKidstra’s programs now reach over 700 children and youth from over 62 linguistic and cultural backgrounds in five equity-deserving Ottawa neighbourhoods.

“When young people work together in orchestras, they learn skills that are valuable to our society. In addition to music, they learn discipline, respect, dedication, teamwork, listening skills, and so much more. Our future is a lot brighter thanks to OrKidstra and the talented young people they nurture.” – Alexander Shelley, OrKidstra Ambassador and Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra

Want more information about OrKidstra? We’d love to hear from you!

Our Impact

OrKidstra brings the joys and challenges of making music together to children who might otherwise be left out.

Despite the recognized value of music to the growing mind, almost 55,000 children attending elementary school in Ottawa have no specialist music teacher (Ottawa Insights), and private music lessons are largely out of reach due to systemic barriers such as financial constraints. Youth in high-risk areas are also more likely to drop out of school, which continues the cycle of poverty.

In the hands of a child, a clarinet or violin becomes a remarkable instrument of change, growth, and empowerment. OrKidstra helps kids become virtuoso adults.

OrKidstra Success Stats:

  • Reaching over 700 Ottawa kids from 5 equity-deserving Ottawa neighbourhoods;
  • 96% of OrKidstra students participate for free, including access to musical instruments such as viola, trombone, clarinet, violin, flute, cello, saxophone, and many others;
  • 93% of OrKidstra parents say their child is doing better in school*
  • 94% of OrKidstra students feel they have improved their musical ability*
  • 100% of OrKidstra parents say that their child feels committed to OrKidstra.*
  • 100% of OrKidstra graduates have completed high school gone on to post-secondary education.
*2022-23 OrKidstra Student, Parent and Teacher Survey.

See what your legacy could be

Talk to OrKidstra about a legacy gift

Legal Name

OrKidstra-Sistema Ottawa

Charity Number

83246 7153 RR0001

How your gift will be used

Give the Gift of Music to Tomorrow’s Youth!

Passionate support from donors like you has established OrKidstra as a powerful instrument of transformation in the lives of thousands of children in low-income neighbourhoods of Ottawa.

“I think that the arts, particularly music, is so crucial in helping children develop…When I give to OrKidstra, I know it goes to good use.” – Chloë McLellan, Visionary Legacy Donor

Learn why OrKidstra Board Chair, Chayanika Abeysekera Lutes, has joined the Will Power movement.

Your gift will help ensure tomorrow’s youth have the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of music. Your gift will help provide free access to instruments and music lessons and a home away from home for kids from equity-deserving communities, giving them opportunities to learn the life skills they need to become confident, responsible, and resourceful. We’re happy to chat with you about options for your legacy gift at OrKidstra, including endowment contributions.

“When you donate to OrKidstra, you are helping to improve the quality of life for kids from equity-deserving areas of our community AND you are sharing the precious gift of music with them. That’s an amazing gift.” – Declan, OrKidstra Graduate

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