Music: A Tool for Social Change

Social change is a phrase that gets thrown around often these days, and for many of us it can be an in one ear out the other situation because what does social change MEAN?

To hear one answer to this complex and fluid question, find a comfortable place to rest and spend a few moments listening from José Antonio Abreu, the founder and philosopher behind El Sistema.

If you’ve ever wondered where The Big Sound came from, this is a must watch. Every single person deserves to belong and be treated with respect, and children in Grey Bruce Owen Sound are no different. This is our why here at The Big Sound!

A word to the tender hearts out there, grab a tissue because he definitely can play the heart strings!

Harmony Centre 10 for 10- Movie Night

The Harmony Centre is celebrating their 10 year anniversary, and has some exciting things happening throughout 2023 to mark this wonderful occasion. Be sure to check out the schedule- there is something for everyone to join the celebration!

From the OS Hub: Harmony Centre Owen Sound, a charitable organization dedicated to offering affordable space for the community to “Share, Educate, Create and Perform”, continues its 10th anniversary Ten for Ten series of Pay-What-You-Can events.  

MOVIE NIGHT on Saturday, Jan. 28, will be a surprising and hilarious evening of comedy, music and a mini-festival of short films by Rob McLean, including the premier of The Dream that Lasts Forever featuring the music of Bryan Leckie. There will be a cash bar before the show begins. Grab your tickets and support our community!

The Big Sound is grateful to call the Harmony Centre “home” to our administrative office!

Here is to 10 more years of sharing, creating, educating, and performing!

2023 Youth Open Mic Date Changes

New year, a few changes. No, no resolutions to report, just a shift in our youth open mic schedule. We are pushing the dates for the open mic out to the spring in the hopes of avoiding the impacts of winter weather and to spread the word to our local youth about the project so we can fill the library auditorium with more young musical talent from our community.

2023 Youth Open Mic Dates- all events at the library auditorium Thursdays 5:30-7:30pm.

April 6 & 27

May 11 & 25

June 8 & 22

We have had a wonderful turnout from our local youth for the fall and winter open mic events we held, and are hoping to expand that in the spring.

Spread the word that dinner and music is on the calendar at the library for any young person 13-17 years old. It is a place to listen to some great music and share your talents!

Want to learn more? Reach out to us at

See you in April for our next event!

Happy Holidays

Wishing you a gentle and restful holiday season. May it be filled with music that brings you joy and people that warm your heart.

With glad tidings, from all the folks at The Big Sound

Youth Open Mic with Paige Warner

We had a great turnout at our December Open Mic night at the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library on December 1, and thanks to our incredible host/musician extraordinaire Paige Warner @paigewarnermusic, a good time was had by all.

Thanks to our supporters at Long and McQuade, the door prize of a brand new ukulele found a new home with Jacob!

Our Open Mic Nights continue in 2023, with the next one on Thursday January 12, beginning at 5:30pm. Open to all Grey Bruce youth 13-17 years old. Bring your friends, your bravery, and your appetite as there is dinner provided and the stage is YOURS!

For more information please contact

Moments of musical magic!

A lovely group of musicians from our Music & Movement after school program admirably represented The Big Sound at the Georgian Bay Symphony’s Family Christmas Concert on December 10.

Hearing the thunderous round of applause from the symphony members after the dress rehearsal and the same from the audience during the concert confirmed that there are some very talented young musicians in our community.  The high calibre of their performance was further confirmed by the comments we received from retired teachers and individual members of the symphony after the performance. Way to go!

Seeing the students faces when they realized that the orchestra had started playing behind them was nothing short of incredible- it was as if some mysterious magic was boosting and elevating their sound.  Which it was!  Another highlight was seeing the mesmerized faces upon what was likely their first experience hearing an orchestra.  They were in awe!

Under the leadership and guidance of Gael Mulvaney-Courtois, the Music & Movement students shone bright on a cold December afternoon and it was a beautiful sight to be seen!

Here is to a great success and to many yet to come performances for The Big Sound musicians!

Happy Holidays from The Big Sound!

The Big Sound is Part of Something Even Bigger!

The Big Sound is an El Sistema inspired program that is deeply rooted in the belief that music is a human right. We are connected to so many other programs and people all around the world through our shared foundation of the El Sistema principles of social change through music and music for all, regardless of barriers and backgrounds.

Last week the folks at El Sistema USA, a network organization made up of El Sistema inspired programs all over the United States (and Canada) came together for the Bridge to Harmony Brunch, celebrating the incredible work of all the El Sistema students and learn about all of the fantastic work of young musicians all over North America.

The Big Sound is proud to be part of the El Sistema network- music is a tool for social change here in Grey Bruce, and ALL over the world!

Check out the replay of the whole virtual brunch here!

Music & Movement Beginning Soon!

We are so excited to welcome our 2022-23 music and movement students this week! Led by Gael and supported by our fantastic volunteers, the program kicks off with a bang, welcoming just over 20 students to the program, with more on the waitlist. We are working hard to find ways to support all of the students interested in participating, and were overwhelmed by the number of families who wanted to join. Music is such an important tool for self expression, creativity, inclusion, and FUN!

Music & Movement Begins!

Our core program, Music & Movement begins this week for the 2022-23 school year. Hosted by Hillcrest Elementary School in Owen Sound, our after school program is open to children aged 5-9 years old. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the program this year, and we are happy to have so many excited families involved, and many more on our waitlist.

This speaks to one of the core values of The Big Sound- music for all, regardless of background. We are working hard behind the scenes to find ways to serve more children and their families in Grey Bruce, as the waitlist for our program shows- The Big Sound is doing good work in our community, and folks want to be a part of it!

This fall and winter, students will be exploring percussion and pitched percussion instruments with Gael Mulvaney-Courtois and volunteers. Look for opportunities to hear these young musicians in concert before the end of the school year!

Interested in learning more about how to get involved with The Big Sound? Reach out to us at to connect and find out about all of the ways volunteers help to support social change through music.

Open Mic Nights for GB Youth 13-17yrs

We proud to announce the kick off of a new project, Yours, Mine Ours, in partnership with the Owen Sound Public Library and the Georgian Bay Folk Society!

Thanks to the support of the recent Kids Can Play community grant stream from the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce, we are hosting a series of open mic nights and weekend workshops in the Owen Sound Library auditorium starting Thursday November 10.

This project is designed to offer a space for youth musicians (both aspiring and practicing) to come together in a collaborative space facilitated and hosted by young adult musicians connected to the GB Folk Society. These open mic nights and workshops are open to all Grey Bruce youth aged 13-17 years old. Adults connected to the youth are welcome but not required, this is not open to the general public.

We encourage folks to sign up, bring their own equipment if available, there will be some instruments available for use at the events.

More information about workshops will be available at the Open Mic Nights, with the first workshop being held on Saturday November 19. More information on this and other workshops to follow shortly.

One of the goals of this project is to entrust much of the leadership and decision making about the open mic and workshops into the hands of the youth involved, from ensuring a positive, safe environment, to collaborate with each other and local social justice organizations/movements to bridge the gaps between the youth and the issues they are concerned about using music as a tool for community building and engagement.

Monthly Open Mic Structure

5:00pm- auditorium opens, registration and set up/sign up

5:30pm- dinner and presentation from local social justice group

6:00pm- open mic begins

8:00pm- clean up/close

Monthly Open Mic Dates 2022-2023

Thursday November 10

Thursday December 1

Thursday January 12

Thursday January 25

Thursday February 9

Thursday March 9

Thursday April 6

Thursday May 11

Thursday June 8

To learn more or ask questions, please reach out to us at

The Big Sound Community Buzz!

Big thank you to all the folks who shared their experience at our first ever summer music camp! These accolades have us excited for our after school music and movement program, starting in October!

Paige Warner is rocking it!

The Big Sound’s Youth Open Mic Night in December was a HUGE success, in large part to our incredible host/local musician extraordinaire, Paige Warner.

Paige was recently featured in Rrampt magazine, and we are so proud of her success- very well deserved! Check out the article, and give Paige a like on IG @paigewarnermusic

Rock on Paige!

Rrampt Article from December 2022

Congratulations to Sistema New Brunswick!

Big news from the maritimes- Sistema New Brunswick has received a boost from the NB government, to the tune of $8.2M!

The Sistema New Brunswick program started with one teacher and 50 children learning to play violin 11 years ago, and now has programs all over the province serving over 1,100 students in their after school music program 5 days a week.

Ken MacLeod, founder of the Sistema New Brunswick program, says he is grateful in the government’s trust in Sistema’s vision, and goes on to say [Music education] “This is not an expense, this is an investment in the lives of our children and in the future of our province.”

An inspiration to all of us here in Grey Bruce!

Read the CBC Story here.