Play Who You Are

Since 2007, ICASP and now IICSI have partnered with KidsAbility Guelph to bring professional musicians into collaboration with children and youth with varying developmental and physical needs. The results of this rich community-engaged, practice-based project have been a series of improvisational workshops and performances that have offered all participants – from new musicians to the very experienced; from music afficionados and scholars to first-time listeners – revelations about the links between music and community-making, improvisation and individual/community well-being, sound and self-expression.


In August 2016, facilitators Rich Burrows and Joe Sorbara led Rainbow Day Camp participants through a series of improvised percussion workshops, introducing the youth to a range of instruments, techniques, and conducting tools. The youth responded with energy and determination, and created a striking performance for their families, on the last day of camp, and another at the Guelph Jazz Festival in September.

View the short promotional video for the performance below.

IICSI Graduate Student Ellen Ringler attended the workshops as a participant-observer and later wrote a Reflection thinking through the dynamics of the workshops for participants, and exploring the impacts of the performance for players and audience members. Ringler’s piece can be accessed here:


Play What You Feel is part one of a two part series about the 2015 Play Who You Are camp, an IICSI Project in partnership with KidsAbility and Rainbow Day Camp.  Youth participants from the summer camp perform during the annual Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium. The 2015 workshops were facilitated by Laura Stinson.


In August 2014, Jesse Stewart facilitated a series of improvised musical workshops with a group of youth attending the KidsAbility/PlaySense summer camp. With a focus on percussion and interactive technologies (AUMI, Reactable), the workshops built from the theme “Sounding Futures” to explore the participants’ musical representations of their ideal futures. The workshops led to a performance at Market Square during the Jazz Festival, reported in Ottawa Jazz Scene. The video below documents the 2014 workshops and performance.

Site: Guelph

Researchers: Ajay Heble, Jesse Stewart, Elizabeth Jackson

Consult IICSI’s research library and the ICASP research collection for other films and written pieces about the collaboration.