Arts & Culture, Education


Music: 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 under-served communities with free instruments and music lessons, which gives them the chance to learn essential life skills through playing and singing together.

Our Story

Founded in 2007, at the heart of OrKidstra is the beautiful combination of musicianship and citizenship. OrKidstra now includes over 700 children and youth, both in-school* and after-school, from over 62 linguistic and cultural backgrounds in five under-served 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

*Funded by the school boards

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 financial constraints, cultural differences, settlement difficulties, and language barriers. 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 under-served 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*
  • 95% of OrKidstra parents say their child has improved their musical ability**
  • 100% of OrKidstra graduates have completed high school gone on to post-secondary education;
**2020-21 OrKidstra Student, Parent and Teacher Survey. Participants indicated their perception of growth from September 2020 to June 2021.

How your gift will be used

A charitable gift in your Will gives the gift of music to tomorrow’s youth.

“I feel that giving children a chance to explore the world of music is the most important gift I can give.” – Suzanne Drapeau, Visionary Legacy Donor

Your donation will be used to help provide kids from low-income families with access to instruments, music lessons, and community engagement opportunities, which gives them the chance to learn important life skills – such as teamwork, commitment, respect, and pride in achievement – through playing and singing together.

Music has the power to change lives: your visionary gift will help ensure that tomorrow’s youth have the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of music.

“When you donate to OrKidstra, you are helping to improve the quality of life for kids from under-served 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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Charity details

Legal Name

OrKidstra-Sistema Ottawa

Charity Number

83246 7153 RR0001

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