High Notes

FREE MUSIC LESSONS

Music can change the world because it can change people - Bono

Colette first heard about High Notes Avante (HNA) when she saw an ad for the High Notes Gala
in the local paper in 2016. Her daughter was struggling with anxiety so she thought it would be
good for her to come and listen to the stories and music, as her daughter is artistically inclined.
“Going to the gala and listening to other professional artists’ mental health stories took away
the embarrassment and shame that she felt,” says Colette. “We went back and invited more
people to join us. My daughter was able to own her own journey and we have been going ever
since then.”


Colette says her daughter is doing 90% better and is “very fortunate to be in a supportive
environment and High Notes has been a very big part of that”. Colette herself quietly struggled
with OCD and anxiety when she was younger. “It wasn’t talked about or diagnosed. People just
said ‘Colette is a bit different’. My dad thought I was serious but it wasn’t discussed,” says
Colette who would encourage others to go to the gala. “The tickets aren’t expensive for the
quality of the entertainment and the beautiful venues they are set at.”


Colette who says HNA has made a big impact on her family, also joined the online choir during
the pandemic. “The weekly sessions with Sina Fallah provided such a great opportunity for us to
connect with other likeminded people when we couldn’t get out of the house,” she says. “After
each session, I left with a warm fuzzy feeling, being more confident about my singing abilities
and ability to get through the week.” Even though the choir and programs are designed for
people who have been touched by mental illness, “when participating you aren’t even talking
about mental health,” says Colette. “You can if you want to, but some people who are
struggling wants a getaway from their week of anxiety and it doesn’t have to come up,” she
says. “It is nice to know you can if you want to, though.”


Colette’s niece, a knitter, has also struggled with anxiety and Colette encouraged her to help
raise funds for HNA by creating toques that she sold to the choir members and then donated $5
from each hat back to the help with the expenses of running the choir.


Colette also volunteers at Bingo World and would encourage others to also help raise funds for
High Notes Avante. “It is such an easy thing to do. It is a nice way to meet new people. There
are always two people working at the same time so if you are hesitant at first you have the
support of the other volunteer and the hours go by quickly,” she says. She found the people
there friendly and interested in learning about our programs and says she hopes to volunteer
again soon. If it wasn’t for people like Colette, HNA wouldn’t be able to offer our free music
program.


“The choir have made me a more adventurous, social and calm person and I can’t believe that I
am learning to play guitar at age 64,” she giggles. “High Notes Avante is really touching people
at the grass roots level from people to people.”

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