TORONTO (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Canadian students broke out in song at the same time across the country on Monday during the fourth annual Music Monday.
The event, started by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, aims to promote the importance of music education for children and to protect music programs in schools.
"The kids, who are in schools in our classrooms today, are the people who will be nurturing our futures tomorrow," said Ingrid Whyte, executive director of the coalition, who started the event.
"Music provides so many skills they can take forward throughout their lives."
More than 650,000 students from 1,500 schools and communities from coast-to-coast sang in the afternoon event. Music teachers took their pupils into the community for the simultaneous concert to sing "Our Song," which was written by Canadian female music duo Dala.
After the song, communities incorporated their own musical activities to celebrate the day.
The event began in 2005, focusing on students in schools, but has since grown to include community ensembles, choirs, orchestras and professional symphonies.
Music Monday, which is always celebrated on the first Monday of May, launched this year in the United States, and has also been adopted by schools in Australia, which hold their event in August.
An estimated 2 million-plus students and music makers have taken part in the event since its launch.
But Whyte realizes that even with the success of Music Monday, it will take resources and government funding to implement more music programs in schools.
The idea for Music Monday came to Whyte, a lifelong music lover, in the middle of the night.
"I was looking for a way where we could galvanize the country and focus attention in one day, and make it a very joyful and positive experience for kids."