A new program in Ottawa aims to get more musical instruments and equipment into the hands of aspiring female and gender-diverse musicians.
Local community organization Girls+ Rock Ottawa, which aims to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the music community, says access to instruments and equipment can be a major barrier to diversity in the music industry.
The group's new gear lending program, which launched Friday, tries to address the issue by allowing people to test the waters with an instrument before committing to it.
"[Hopefully] more people will get involved in music ... getting more representation and diversity within the music community at large," said Tiffanie Tri, chair of Girls+ Rock Ottawa.
A more inclusive music scene
Tri says the organization has about 50 guitars, both electric and acoustic, and more than 20 amps as part of the lending program, plus 10 keyboards, 10 drum kits, mixers and audio recording equipment.
For a membership fee, aspiring musicians can rent up to three items for a month at a time. The program also allows band memberships, which could include up to four people and up to 12 items per month.
The gear can be lent from the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orléans and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre.
The membership plans are cheaper than traditional equipment rentals in order to make music more accessible, according to Tri.
In addition to the gear lending program,it also has an online music education platform that will launch in the coming weeks. It will include instrument tutorials for bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.
"These tutorials were created with professional musicians who identify as gender diverse in Ottawa," Tri says.
"You should be able to write a song by the end."
The tutorials are geared for beginners and aim to provide them the basic skills to get started.
Music for the pandemic
She says the pandemic has led many people to appreciate the benefits of music.
"I think everyone has noticed that having some form of outlet for self-expression and creativity has been so important during lockdown."
Thanks to people clearing out their homes during the pandemic, Tri says they got a windfall of donations from people looking to re-home unused instruments.
These donations from community members allowed Girls+ Rock Ottawa to exponentially increase their collection.