Youth Program

What do you get when you take a group of young, bright-eyed musicians and music-industry enthusiasts and pair them with seasoned (and salty) musicians and presenters for a weekend?

Chaos? Mayhem?

Well, yes. That’s part of it.

2016 Youth Program

Back row (L-R): Graydon James, John Muirhead, Lynn Miles, Jillian Kerr (2015 YP), Cécile Doo-Kingué, Brandon Girouard, Braden Phelan (2015 YP), Anita Cazzola, Mathieu Landry, Martine Fortine (2015 YP), Christa Couture, Liz Cazzola (2015 YP), Benjamin Dakota Rogers (2014 YP)
Front row (L-R): Andrew Nunno, Missy Bauman, Alysha Brilla, Treasa Levasseur (Youth Program Coordinator), Kate Paulson (Youth Program volunteer), Melina Hanke

But you also get the wonderful world and community that is Folk Music Ontario’s Youth Program.

What a rewarding experience to work with such talented youth and see them integrate themselves into the community and manoeuvre the conference with confidence and grace.

Sue Passmore, 2012 Youth Mentor

What exactly is the Youth Program?

The Folk Music Ontario Youth Program is an annual program integrated with the Folk Music Ontario Annual Conference. The program is open to residents of Ontario and the National Capital Region, between ages 15 and 21, who are chosen for their interest, ability and experience.

The program has two streams: Youth Performer and Youth Presenter. Successful applicants pay the reduced Youth rate for the conference. Youth under 18 years of age must be accompanied (to the conference, not the program) by a parent or guardian, who may also attend the conference at the Youth rate.

At the 2016 conference, we were honoured to have five excellent mentors guiding our youth performers, including one Francophone participant sponsored by Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM):

Mentor Youth Performer
Alysha Brilla Melina Hanke (Barrie)
Christa Couture Anita Cazzola (Guelph)
Cécile Doo-Kingué Brandon Girouard (Kapuskasing) – APCM participant
Graydon James John Muirhead (Norval) – Taylor Mitchell Award recipient
Lynn Miles Missy Bauman (Brantford)

Episode 295 of Folk Roots Radio with host Jan Hall features the 2016 FMO Youth Program. This episode includes commentary and musical contributions from program coordinator Treasa Levasseur; mentors Cécile Doo-Kingué, Christa Couture, Graydon James, Lynn Miles, and Alysha Brilla; and youth participants Brandon Girouard, Anita Cazzola, John Muirhead, Missy Bauman, and Melina Hanke.

Performer Stream

Online applications will be accepted from May 15 – August 18, 2017.

In the Youth Performer stream, young performers are teamed with established artist mentors for the entire weekend. The program provides young folk/roots performers with an excellent opportunity to shadow an established artist, to experience hands-on learning at the workshops and master classes, and to integrate into this tightly knit musical community. The highlight of the program is the Youth showcase on Saturday afternoon.

The program features many hours interacting one-on-one with the mentors:

  • developing a showcase performance
  • participating in professional development activities

and attending:

  • workshops and master classes on Friday and Saturday
  • industry networking events on Friday and Saturday
  • Sunday morning Awards brunch
  • the exhibit hall
  • all levels of showcases

Additionally, participants are encouraged to attend or take part in the youth- and alumni-produced, late-night showcases on Friday and/or Saturday.

The Folk Music Ontario Taylor Mitchell Bursary is awarded each year to one participant in the performer stream of the youth program. For more information, visit Folk Music Ontario Awards.

Heading into the youth mentorship program in 2014 I didn’t really know what to expect. On arrival I was surrounded by friendly faces from the program participants. It was a wonderfully warm welcome. Through the FMO conference I had the opportunity to meet and learn from other incredible artists in the musical community. I am grateful to all the mentors for their ongoing support and encouragement towards all the youth participants’ musical careers. During the youth showcase I was able to play on stage in front of esteemed individuals in the folk community resulting in invitations to perform in festivals throughout the summer.

Benjamin Dakota Rogers, 2014 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

Being part of the FMO Youth Program was an amazing experience. It was a great chance for me to learn more about the music industry, connect with people in the industry, and to really lock myself into my own musical pocket. I was blown away with everyone’s generosity. The mentors did a great job of guiding us and helping us put ourselves out there.

Ben Turcotte, 2013 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

I have made so many connections and friendships with mentors and other musicians that go way beyond the conference! In 2013, I attended FMO as an alternate showcase artist. I was able to spend some quality time with the youth, and was floored by the enthusiasm radiating from the group sessions! Folk Music Ontario is a musical family that I am so happy to be a part of, especially the wonderful Youth Program that is offered. I plan to be a part of it throughout my entire musical journey.

Emily Kohne, 2012 Taylor Mitchell Bursary recipient

Presenter Stream

Online applications will be accepted from May 15 – August 18, 2017.

The Youth Presenter stream teams participants with industry professionals in a series of one-on-one mentoring sessions.

Participants also are invited to attend:

  • industry networking events on Friday and Saturday
  • Sunday morning Awards brunch
  • workshops and info sessions
  • the exhibit hall
  • all levels of showcases

Wherever possible we offer the young Presenter an opportunity for hands-on experience, either at the sound board or in assisting with the various official and sponsored showcases.

Additionally participants are encouraged to participate in planning and producing the youth- and alumni-produced, late-night showcases on Friday and/or Saturday.

I just wanted to thank you again for such an amazing experience at the OCFF conference! I really felt that I got a little taste of many different jobs in the music industry and I must say that the taste has awaken my appetite to learn more.

Gabrielle Gwyn-Neumann, 2010 Youth Presenter Program

All Youth Program participants are expected to attend the program orientation session and song circle on Thursday night as well as the Youth Wrap-up session on Sunday morning.

For more details, please download the 2016 Youth Program Information PDF.

Click here to watch a brief testimonial video featuring Tim Jackson, a 2009 Youth Performer Program participant, and his mentor, David Celia.