Nine-year-old Torrence Wei moves his hand up and down the neck of his cello, holding notes as the strings vibrate against his bow. For the past four years, he has been learning to master his instrument, a process he initially found challenging.
"At first it may seem difficult, but when you learn it and practice it will at the end become easy, and it will be fun," he said.
Wei is one of about 30 students on scholarship to learn how to play the cello as part of a free program offered by Montreal Symphony Orchestra musicians who are passing on their craft to the next generation.
The goal is to offer weekly music lessons to children who may otherwise not have the opportunity or the means to learn how to play the instrument.
Geneviève Guimond, cellist at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, is one of the program's co-founders. She says that her family sacrificed a lot to allow her to pursue her passion for music growing up, an opportunity she says all children should have regardless of their families' finances.
Nine-year-old Torrence Wei says learning to play the cello was challenging at first, but it got easier and more enjoyable with time. (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC)
"I know that's not a reality for a lot of kids, and for many kids, regardless of how passionate or talented or driven they are, that can be a really real limiting factor," said Guimond.
Eight-year-old Chiamaka Idaboh has also been playing for four years. What she loves the most is being with the friends she has made throughout her musical journey.
Chiamaka Idaboh, eight, says learning to play the cello has taught her how to be responsible for the instrument. (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC)
Idaboh says she has always wanted to learn how to play music. By learning to play the cello she has also learned how to take care of a precious instrument.
"The cello is not just to have fun with. It's also to learn how to play properly and to take responsibility for it," said Idaboh.
Children in the Montreal area learn to play the cello, one note at a time. (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC)
Idaboh's mother, Joan, says it has been a "wonderful opportunity" for her daughter and the other children.
The lessons, she says, have given her daughter confidence, discipline and focus.
"Having Chiamaka play with other kids and make friends with other kids has been a beautiful experience as well," she said, an activity she says can be expensive without programs like the one her daughter is taking part in.