Sistema Toronto

Percussion Program

Sistema Toronto is a social development program, using ensemble-based music education to transform the lives of 300+ children and youth in underserved neighbourhoods across Toronto. Students work together for 10 hours of weekly instruction. They learn strings (violin, viola, cello, or double bass), percussion, choir, and Music & Movement while developing important life skills like problem solving, empathy, and self-advocacy. In addition to expert music instruction, students are provided an instrument, nutritious snack each day of the program, and performance opportunities throughout the year, at no cost to families.

Students in Sistema Toronto’s program learn percussion techniques and theory. Kids in grades 1-2 in Music & Movement learn areas of percussion including how to identify and classify pitched and unpitched percussion, proper mallet, stick and hand drum technique. This sets them up for success when they begin percussion classes in their second year. Students in grades 3-8 at all centres participate in group percussion ensemble and theory classes each week. These classes are designed to develop aural, rhythmic, and ensemble skills to enhance students’ abilities and help them in their ensemble playing in orchestra, choir and strings classes. In addition to music outcomes, Sistema Toronto’s Percussion Program promotes teamwork, leadership, and self-confidence by working together in drum ensembles and performing for their communities, as well as providing a creative outlet for students living in underserved communities.

Project Initiation




Organization Website

"The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation truly understands the mental health and social support needs of vulnerable children and youth, especially during a remarkably difficult time for this sector. Their support of Sistema Toronto’s teacher professional development series focussed on mental health support for vulnerable children, and their dedication to the use of music as a tool for social change through their funding of our Percussion Program will impact Sistema Toronto students for years to come."

Christie Gray

Executive Director