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Frequently Asked Questions




Why should I volunteer?

At Heart of the City Music Program, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to learn and discover a love for music. By joining our team of volunteers, you can give back to the community by giving disadvantaged youth the opportunity to discover music. In doing so, you would gain valuable teaching experience that can transfer to future endeavours. Many of our volunteers have started teaching music through HCMP, and later start to teach independently or in a studio. Our program is relatively low commitment (approximately 2 hours a week) and it provides an opportunity to make time for music in your life while sharing your passion for music with enthusiastic students. In addition, it looks great on your resume (many past volunteers have been accepted into professional programs) and we provide references (see this FAQ for more information).

I am in high school, but, I really want to volunteer. Can I?

Yes! Although the majority of our volunteers are students at the University of Alberta, we do have a couple of high school volunteers each year. The only problem is scheduling, since high school students are often dismissed at the same time as elementary students. This especially becomes an issue when factoring in transit time from your school to theirs. Therefore, when considering whether or not this is the right position for you, remember account for time. If you think you can fit it in, then we'd love to have you! A great option to avoid your volunteering clashing with your school hours is being a part of our Saturday Program! Or, if you have Gr 10 RCM in piano or above, you can volunteer for our Performance Troupe.

If I studied piano in another country and do not have RCM Gr 6 Certification or above, can I still teach?

RCM Gr 6 or above is just a guideline that we recommend. As long as you demonstrate adequate piano skills, commitment, and enthusiasm, you are eligible to apply as a volunteer. If you are not sure where or not your background is "adequate", send us an email explaining your situation.

I play the guitar and I want to volunteer, but I am not sure if my skills are adequate. Can I still apply?

Yes! We conduct informal interviews for prospective guitar teachers to assess their abilities. Feel free to apply, and we will contact you with further details.

How are lessons structured? Is there a standardized lesson plan I follow?

At HCMP, we expect volunteers to plan their own lessons according to their students needs and abilities, as the students in our program can be at a variety of different levels. We will have suggested lessons plans, as well as guidelines you should follow, but most of it will be up to you!


What support will I get from HCMP?

At the beginning of the year, we will have an orientation as well as a teaching seminar to go over some of our expectations, guidelines, and an overview of how we suggest lessons to look like. We will also be doing lesson check-ins, and will give you feedback on how your lessons have been going.

In addition, we will have office hours where the Volunteer Coordinators or the Program Directors will be available to answer your questions. If you have any questions, concerns, or you just want to chat, feel free to book an appointment! 

I have previously volunteered for the HCMP, do I still need to submit a new Police Check?


Most of the time, no. Police checks are valid for 3 years, so if the last time you volunteered was within 3 years ago, you do not have to. If it was more than 3 years ago, then yes.

What forms of identification are acceptable for the Police Check?


The following forms of ID are accepted: Drivers License, Birth Certificate, Passport, Immigration papers, Citizenship card, Indian Status card, Permanent Residence card, Possession and Acquisition License, Canadian Forces Identification card, or Alberta Health Care card. Two pieces of ID are required, and one must be photo-identification.

We will NOT accept: Social Insurance card, Interim Drivers License, student ID, credit cards, City of Edmonton License card, Blue Cross card, or Hospital card.

I submitted my registration form already, but, realized I made a mistake or my availability changed - What Now?

Either send us an email with the correction, or fill out the form again - we will only look at your most recent response.

Can I get a reference letter for a job or scholarship from the HCMP?


Yes, we would be glad to provide you with a reference letter as a reward for all your hard work! Please email us to request one, and include any relevant information on the job/scholarship that may help us in writing you the best reference letter we can.

When are books from the Music Resource Library due?

There is no real deadline and you may borrow the book for as long as you like, but we will start pestering you with emails at the end of the school year and again if you stop volunteering for the HCMP and still have the book. If it's a really popular book, like a Disney book, we would really appreciate if you photocopy the pages you need (or we can do this for you) and return the book ASAP so other teachers and students can use it too.

Can't find the answer to your question? Then please email us with your inquiry!



How much do lessons cost?

Our lessons are completely free! Heart of the City Music Program is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are dedicated to giving disadvantaged youth an opportunity to participate in music lessons.

How do I sign up for lessons?

Our program is hosted at a few different elementary schools around the city, and these schools differ slightly every year. Contact the school that your child attends for more information on whether they are hosting Heart of the City Music Program. Another option is our Saturday program at the Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre (NCFRC). Registration for the Saturday Program is done through the NCFRC.​

How do the lessons work?

Usually, one teacher will teach 1-2 students for around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the location as well as other circumstances. While the overall lesson structure and content is determined by the teacher to cater it to the students interests, HCMP does give overall guidelines for teachers to follow, and we perform lesson check-ins to give the teachers feedback and to ensure that the lessons are going well.

Are there requirements to sign up?

HCMP's goal is to provide music lessons for disadvantaged youth in the Edmonton area. Our program specifically targets this population because we want to create more equitable opportunities for youth to participate in music lessons. We ask that you only participate in this program if you would not have access to music lessons otherwise, so we can allow for more youth to learn music.

What will my child learn with HCMP?

While the more specific content of lessons will be determined by your child's teacher, we do recommend teaching some musical theory, reading sheet music, naming notes, and of course how to play their instrument!

Can't find the answer to your question? Then please email us with your inquiry!



How do lessons work?

Lessons are completely free for the students. They will occur every week and they take place either during lunch or right after school. A teacher (one of the volunteers from our program) will be matched to your school, and they will come to your school and teach 1-2 students for around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how long your school can accommodate lessons.

What do we have to do for these lessons?

Schools/Teachers will need to provide spaces for music lessons to take place in, as well as a piano/keyboard, if piano lessons are offered at your school. We have a limited supply of guitars, but we may be able to loan some for the duration of the program. You will also need to share the registration form for our program with students and parents that you think would be a good fit for our program, keeping in mind that we cater towards disadvantaged youth who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity for music lessons.

HCMP will provide you with the student registration forms, pair our volunteer teachers to your school and match them with students, and we will contact the parents of the students when they have been matched into the program.

How do you select your volunteers? 

Most of our volunteers are students at the University of Alberta, but we do have some high school volunteers as well as some community member who help out. All of our volunteers must complete a Police Check, and we require references who can attest to their character. Piano teachers are all around Grade 6 RCM level or more advanced, and we do an interview with prospective guitar teachers to assess their abilities and their fit for our program.

Besides piano and guitar, are there other types of instruments that could be offered to students? 


This depends on the volunteer's experience and availability, student and school interest, and instrument availability. In the past we have offered voice lessons and we do have some teacher interest in providing violin lessons. However, most of our volunteers are most comfortable teaching piano and/or guitar, and teacher availability for other instruments differ from year to year, and it's difficult to provide a concrete answer before volunteers sign up.

Would we have access to the volunteers' information in case of illness of the student/teacher? 

Prior to the first lesson, the volunteers will contact you to introduce themselves and to gather information regarding their students (contact information, lesson details, and school procedures). If a volunteer needs to miss a lesson, they will let you know at least one week in advance, with illness as an exception. 

I think my school is a good fit for the Heart of the City Music Program. How do we participate?


If you want to take part in our program, that's wonderful! Please email us, and we can discuss the specifics then. School registration is usually only done in the summer/beginning of the school year, but feel free to contact us at any time and we will make sure to reach out to you when registration for a new school year begins. 

Can't find the answer to your question? Then please email us with your inquiry!

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