Keeping the beat

London church encourages children to explore music through percussion jam sessions

St. George’s Anglican Church in London is proving that youth and music are a combination that can’t be beat thanks to their Music from Around the World program.

The Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) fall 2021 Say Yes! to Kids (SYTK) grant enabled St. George’s to acquire a percussion kit that included cajons, bongos, claves, tambourines, maracas, a cowbell, and Latin percussion eggs.

“We asked the youth what kind of a program they wanted funding for,” says the Rev. Aidan Armstrong, Incumbent, “and the Music from Around the World project is what they came back with.” The versatile instruments have given rise to fun, family-focused jam sessions, monthly, that include a lunch following the 10:30 a.m. worship service.

“It’s noisy in the best way possible,” says Emily Fontana, Child and Youth Minister, who is supported by parishioner Graham Holmes, in the ongoing development of the program. Fontana says that in these early days of jamming together the kids are mainly just learning to keep the beat. “Many of them are already good singers but percussion has really opened their eyes to how music works—the different places to hit the drums to make different sounds and using hands versus sticks.”

Fontana says percussion was a good starting point because the instruments, thanks to their accessibility and shareability, are ideal for group participation and experimentation. “Right now, we are going by instinct and being highly responsive to where the kids want to go with this. My job is to make a safe happy space where these children can grow and achieve things. Whatever is good for them is good for me, and I’m ecstatic to be part of it.”

The church’s nascent percussion group is excited about the possibility of bringing their instruments into the worship service. “I think the congregation will love it when they eventually do that,” says Fontana. “They love to see the kids succeed.”

To read more good news stories about the SYTK movement visit our communications hub at To learn how your church can partner with AFC in our 2023 SYTK campaign and raise funds for a youth-focused project, please contact Michelle Hauser, AFC’s Development and Communications officer at [email protected].