| Mar 26, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 26, 2009 Two Larocques pump up the JAMMBy Julie Druker

Dennis Larocque partner and founder of JAMM, a new local musical mentorship program for kids

Local business owner Dennis Larocque of Larocque Masonry Construction in Sharbot Lake had a vision in January, a small seed of an idea that is now, with spring ever closer, coming quickly to fruition.

Dennis explained, “I was basically looking for some way that my company could give back to the community. I wanted to give an opportunity to kids who otherwise might not have one and I also have an interest in music so I thought I would combine the two.”

He immediately called his cousin Brad Larocque, a program manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County (BBBS).

Dennis said, “Since BBBS has contacts with the schools and staff already, they have their finger on the pulse of the kids that need help”.

The mentorship program, “Junior Achievement through Music Mentorship” or JAMM, is a partnership between Larocque Masonry and BBBS of Lanark County and is designed to provide an opportunity for grade 6, 7 and 8 students to learn basic guitar and other musical skills. The program is geared to reach those students who may not otherwise have this opportunity.

The program is absolutely free for the participating students and schools.

Musical instruments will be purchased through the program and placed in participating schools that likely do not have this extensive type of musical instrument program available to students. Students will have access to guitars, fiddles, banjos and basses for a 6 to 8-week period.

During this time volunteer musical mentors will visit the school and share their musical knowledge and know how with students in lesson-type sessions. Music mentors, like all BSSS volunteers, will be put through a mandatory screening process.

Each school could have three JAMM sessions in total throughout the school year, depending on the number of schools that are involved.

Even at this early stage in the program Sharbot Lake Public School, along with various schools in Perth, Smith Falls and Almonte, have shown interest in the program.

All of the money raised will go through BBBS, a registered charity and the musical equipment will be purchased under Dennis’ direction.

Front Line Music in Perth has come up with an extremely generous price and service offer.

Dennis himself has been playing guitar since he was 12. He will also participate in the program as one of the volunteer teachers

Brad Larocque is as enthusiastic about the program as his cousin Dennis. He explained, “These types of programs are the future of our organization. They require a short-term commitment from volunteers and the group setting has always been successful in the past. We are a mentoring organization after all, trying to help kids to reach their potential.”

Brad continued, “To be able to introduce the love of music to kids is a great thing. They spend time on it instead of perhaps doing other things they shouldn’t be doing. It’s also a motivator. It might motivate them to get a job to purchase their very own instrument. Music also provides social connections that otherwise would not be there.”

Dennis is now hoping to raise funds to help purchase the instruments and has organized the first fundraiser for the project called “Dinner for Jamm” to be held on Saturday March 28 at the Fall River Pub and Grill in Maberly. The $45 ticket includes a four-course dinner and an evening of musical entertainment with Juno-nominated bluegrass guitarist Joey Wright, Cuban-born musician Mario Franco plus the famed musical duo from Perth, the Camerons. Tickets are selling fast and can be purchased by calling Dennis at 613-985-0660 (daytime) or 613-279-2623 (evenings). It promises to be a great evening of food, fun and music, all for a brand new and worthwhile local cause. 

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