Snack Time

Nutrition is an essential part of life.  After a long day at school, The Big Sound students are tired and hungry, so before they start their work at The Big Sound, a break and a healthy snack are in order.

Thanks to the financial support of the United Way Bruce Grey @Unitedwaybrucegrey and the students of the Culinary Arts Program at Owen Sound District Secondary School, TBS students receive a healthy snack every day before the program.

“Humm … that looks good Audrey.”

Making our paper instruments.

There is a long history in Sistema inspired groups of making paper violins. Initially, there weren’t enough instruments to go around. Now, the process continues, but for different reasons. By investing their time and energy and working together to create art, the students learn how fragile their instruments are, they learn to respect and care for them, and they come to realize that they are part of something larger.

Thanks to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery @tomthomsonartgallery for hosting us.  What a terrific space to create.

It is also a lot of fun!!


 Putting the pieces together is hard work,

 but painting is fun, and

 much to our surprise, jumping is also an integral part of building a violin!

A BIG day for The Big Sound

Today marked the first day that our first students received their first violins.  Here are a few pictures we hope that you enjoy as much as we do!  @MusiCounts @TDCanada @YamahaCanMusic @LongMcQuade

 Thank goodness it wasn’t raining!

I’d say Georgia looks happy!

 Opening up your first violin is serious business.  Anastasia carefully opens the case.

 And the work begins!

Our instruments have started to arrive!!!!

Thanks to a generous grant from MusiCounts and the kind support of Yamaha Canada Music and Long & McQuade Musical Instruments, Owen Sound, our students will soon be able to get started on learning how to play the violin. @MusiCounts @TDCanada @YamahaCanMusic @LongMcQuade

“Why the violin?” you ask.

The violin is one of the more expressive, moving, and enjoyable instruments to play, but that is only scratching the surface. Although one of the more challenging instruments to learn, the violin offers numerous other benefits.

Studies have discovered that learning the violin benefits:

  • mental function and health
  • attention span
  • social skills and a sense of belonging
  • communication skills
  • self-esteem
  • self-awareness
  • posture
  • upper body strength, and improved motor skills



Today was Choir Day

Today was our second day at Hillcrest.  Many thanks to Keith, Anne, Alicia, Leslie, and Amy and everyone else at Hillcrest Elementary for welcoming us to their school.  We were amazed to hear everybody singing in not one, but two parts!!!  It sounds like we are off to an amazing year.

Centre Director and Choral Instructor

The Big Sound is thrilled to announce that Robin Zettel, Centre Director and Ann-Marie MacDairmid, Choral Instructor will be leading the program at Hillcrest Elementary School.

Robin is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a BMus in Performance on viola.

Ann-Marie is a native of Thornbury, Ontario. She studied music at Wilfrid Laurier University and The University of Western Ontario.

Read their full bios here.

Volunteers Needed

Volunteers Needed

Volunteers play a critical role at El Sistema Grey Bruce – The Big Sound, performing many essential tasks that ensure our children and faculty can focus on building our community and making beautiful music. We could not accomplish our mission without exceptional volunteers!

The Big Sound needs Program Volunteers and Music Mentors/Coaches Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year between the hours of 3:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m..

Come every day or only one day a week. Every bit of time spent volunteering with us is valuable to our community’s children. The ideal situation is to have a team of volunteers that serve on a regular schedule, as this helps you learn our program and develop relationships with the children and youth, Program faculty and other volunteers.

Program Volunteers perform a variety of tasks and often those tasks are dictated by the days of the week or specific time periods of the day.

The main responsibilities of a Program Volunteer include:

  • Filling water dispenser & water bottles
  • taking attendance when the participants arrive,
  • setting out snacks, supervising, and ensuring that students tidy up after snack time,
  • monitoring the classroom when instruction is taking place and providing support if a student needs to take a break,
  • emptying water bottles and putting them away,
  • accompanying students to after school performances, and
  • checking off names when the students depart,
  • ensure that humidifier is filled.

If you are a musician and would like to sit in and play or sing with the children and youth, that would be awesome!

Music Mentors/Coaches:

  • sit beside students and play along during rehearsals
  • offer guidance (e.g. bowing or fingering)
  • sing along and add harmonies

Of course, we will try to match your skills, strengths and time with our program needs.

Volunteers must consent to a Criminal Background Check/Vulnerable Sector Search prior to serving on site with the children.

To inquire about volunteering send an email to and we’ll get back to you.

Thank you for your interest in El Sistema Grey Bruce – The Big Sound.



10th Annual Ladies Scramble Tournament Donation

A GREAT BIG Big Sound thank you to Stonetree’s 10th Annual Ladies Scramble Tournament for a donation of $1012.00 in support of our inaugural program at Hillcrest Elementary School.

Pauline Manson, Ladies Representative (left) and Bill Stewart, Director of Golf at Stonetree (right), present the donation to Norma Breadner, Big Sound Director (centre).


El Sistema Grey Bruce (The Big Sound) Launches Pilot Program at Hillcrest Elementary School

The Big Sound – El Sistema Grey Bruce set to Launch This Fall

A new after school music program is coming to Grey-Bruce

For Immediate Release

September 10, 2018   

Owen Sound: Inspired by a program developed in Venezuela in the mid 1970s, a local volunteer Board of Directors is announcing plans to launch a new and exciting after-school program this fall, for children in Grey Bruce. The Big Sound – El Sistema Grey Bruce (“The Big Sound”) will feature musical instruction, social development and of course fun!

“Our goal is to create opportunities for children who, for various reasons, are often excluded from extra-curricular musical activities, such as playing in an ensemble or orchestra,” said Board Chair David McLeish. “We want to replicate the success of other El Sistema programs operating in Canada and internationally and support vulnerable families while improving the self-esteem, academic performance, and a sense of inclusion for their children.”

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