RHYTHM — an acronym for “Reaching Halifax Youth Through Harmony and Music” — is a unique program for youth aged 16-25. Participants work with professional musicians and DJs to learn the knowledge and skills involved in disc jockeying — building self-confidence, self-esteem and a positive self-image at the same time. RHYTHM is a great program for anyone interested in music, not just those who wish to be DJs.

RHYTHM participants from Bedford share songs that they painted onto records.

There are two components of RHYTHM that are offered at reachAbility. Level 1 provides participants with basic skills in DJ technology such as sampling and mixing as well as engaging activities, discussions and history lessons that encourage new ways of thinking about music and sound. Level 2 expands on the basics through developing more challenging skills. Both levels also feature guest speakers, field trips and supplementary workshops to provide networking opportunities for participants. This allows individuals to expand on their skills and learn about employment opportunities after completing the program.

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity. — Oliver Sacks, Neurologist and Author

In RHYTHM, we aim to provide participants with a clear understanding of music and DJ history as well as the technical aspects of DJ-ing such as sampling, mixing and using analogue and digital media so graduates can DJ and/or create music after the program with confidence and a DIY approach.

This program also recognizes music as a vital and authentic tool for self-expression, self-awareness and engagement with the world. Many participants note improved self-esteem and a more thorough sense of their strengths (and limitations) after the program.

Upon completion of each level of RHYTHM, participants will be awarded a certificate and a $50 gift card to put toward acquiring DJ/music gear so they can continue developing skills on their own. For graduates interested in further study, we can assist them in finding appropriate opportunities.

reachAbility is inclusive of, not exclusive of, persons with disabilities. We are dedicated to equalizing the playing field for anyone facing barriers in their life, including youth. RHYTHM aims to provide youth with knowledge and skills essential to DJ-ing and understanding music, but also focuses on personal growth through self-awareness activities in a fun and supportive environment.

Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school? Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical? What if the ones inside can’t hear very well, would that change my question?  John Cage, Composer, Writer and Artist

Making Headlines

DJs help youth turn the tables on shyness – The Globe and Mail, Melanie Patten (The Canadian Press)

 Here, professional disc jockeys show young people how to turn the table on shyness and low self-esteem as part of an innovative weekly class… You never know – you could have the next protégé here that could become the next big thing.

Read an interview with RHYTHM participant DJ Ace in Teens Now Talk magazine: DJ Ace: Spinning His Way To The Top

What People are saying about RHYTHM

RHYTHM is a great program for youth with disabilities to get into the music industry, to learn how to properly use DJ equipment, and to meet lifelong friends. There is a lot of support available, and it is easy to speak with the instructors confidentially without facing judgement.  This is a great program for youth who are dealing with addictions, like myself, as it is a way to have fun and stay out of trouble. In the program, you can learn so much about yourself, about other people, and about the world.  The facilitator and the DJ were able to make the classes both fun and educational, and helped me to learn new methods to deal with conflict in my life. My confidence and self-esteem have improved greatly since taking the RHYTHM program. – R.B. (RHYTHM Participant 2013)

The RHYTHM program has helped me in many different ways. I have had lots of history in my life and its great knowing that there is a program that can help you manage your stress and just enjoy what you love to do. I would recommend this program to whoever wants to follow their musical dreams. Someone who enjoys mixing and playing with music, and who wants to understand the history of music and deejaying would be a great fit for RHYTHM. – B.S. (RHYTHM Participant 2014)


The Facilitators

lindsayLINDSAY DOBBIN When she was four, Lindsay pretended to host radio shows in her bedroom, mixing 8-tracks, vinyl, and cassettes and recording them onto her tape player. A true lover of music and sound, Lindsay is now an accomplished musician and artist with a practice that includes drumming, field recording, sound art, radio, film/video and writing. Music and art has consistently been a tool for understanding herself and the world, and she believes that it can have a similar potency for anyone wishing to pursue the difficult but rewarding path of living creatively and authentically. Lindsay loves to share her wealth of knowledge through teaching. She brings an enthusiasm and curiosity to RHYTHM that inspires participants to discover their own creative pathway.

jfmJESSE FRANK MATTHEWS is above all else, a good listener. Whether in conversation, music making/listening, deep in the forest, or in the middle the busiest intersection of the city, his interest and attention to detail translate into a wealth of expression when it’s time to create — pulling ideas and inspiration from the smallest moments in time and also the bigger themes of life that tie us all together. Without the ability to process and make sense of one’s life and surroundings, it can be difficult to approach the world we live in. With the RHYTHM program, the intention is to provide participants with useful knowledge to assist with their decision making for creating a positive change in their lives. The tools are not as important as the enthusiasm and energy necessary to feel comfortable using creative force and imagination to express what can’t always be said with words. 

How Do I Get Involved?

If an individual is associated with a case management agency, then they can speak directly to their case manager about referral to RHYTHM. If an individual is not case managed, but wishes to participate in RHYTHM, they can contact reachAbility anytime.

For more information about RHYTHM, please contact Lindsay@reachability.org or call us at (902) 429-5878.

Specific accommodation(s) available upon request.

Application form

You have two options to fill out the referral form. You can either fill it out online, or download it to e-mail or fax it back to us. If you choose to download, please right click on “WORD,” and click on “Save As.”

Fill out the referral form online here: [ONLINE FORM]

Download the referral form here: [WORD]