Nine years ago we founded the Hamilton Music Collective. As a musician and former recording industry executive, who had just moved to Hamilton from New York City, I was soon introduced Hamilton’s vibrant music scene and eclectic musical history. Inspired by my new hometown’s strong musical identity it was a logical next step to form a music and education based organization, that would allow me to continue to work in my field and realize the ideas that had been on my mind for some time.

A guitar player with Astrid Hepner

A young musician on stage in the Jambassadors program. Astrid Hepner (right) Photo: Scott Gardner

The Hamilton Music Collective (HMC) was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2008 with the support of a local group of musicians, educators and community supporters, who were passionate about music and believed in its transformative power. The organization’s mandate was (and continues to be) to invigorate Hamilton’s music scene through professional live performances, education initiatives, events, workshops and exhibits.

Before we launched An Instrument for Every Child, the program that HMC is now best known for, we initiated a number of projects and programs worth mentioning as they established the HMC as an organization that was here to stay: Portraits of Sound, a photo exhibition featuring local musicians, Jazz in the Hubs, a program that brought interactive performances into inner-city schools, and Jazz at the Corktown, a highly successful concert series, which featured some of the best jazz players in the country.

Young musician by Jan Felix Photography

A young musician in the Instrument For Every Child Program receives his certificate. Photo: Jan Felix Vista Photography

An Instrument for Every Child (AIFEC) was launched in 2010 and developed into a visionary musical project that provides elementary school children in Hamilton’s inner-city schools and community centres with the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. Music education in elementary schools had seen a steady decline over the last decade and the loss of music lessons could have onerous consequences for new generations of students. Without music education in the classroom, music instruction is left to only those families who can afford private instruction. That’s where HMC filled a gap… our core programs are designed to inspire Hamilton’s children and youth through the access to music and music education while reducing the economic burden for parents, schools, and communities who wish to offer students the skills and benefits that music education provides. Exposure to music and free instrumental lessons enables children to build self-esteem, develop leadership and teamwork skills, and discover a sense of personal and creative fulfillment.


The Jambassadors on stage. Photo: Jan Felix Vista Photography

As of 2017 the An Instrument for Every Child program is offered in 12 inner-city schools and community centres in Hamilton, providing over 550 children with regular free music instruction. The program removes barriers for students who live in poverty by encouraging children to participate, awarding grants to cover all program expenses and by providing each participant with his/her own instrument free of charge for the duration of the program.

In 2015 we launched the JAMBASSADORS band program to provide musical instruction and playing opportunities to students who have progressed through AIFEC programming. This program exposes participants to the “ins and outs” of being in a band, with instruction and music industry insight from professional musicians. BEATS by U! introduces urban youth to the basics of beat making, positive hip hop and DJing.

We are thrilled to work with our many community partners and sponsors on expanding the program into additional schools and community centres and to make music more accessible to children and youth in our community. Without their incredible support this would not be possible.

Astrid Hepner
President/CEO, Hamilton Music Collective
Program Director, An Instrument for Every Child

For more information on our programs please visit our website:

HMC Staff pic Jan Felix Vista Photography