McGill News Alumni Magazine
By Jennifer Nault
“Show me your ID,” is not the most anticipated response coming from a middle school student upon meeting his music instructor. Yet this student was likely voicing the same dubiousness shared by his peers – as they awkwardly clutched their instruments, some of them looking at musical notation for the very first time. Some instructors might be taken aback by such impudence. Not Dantes Rameau, who understood precisely why his credentials were required with this bunch.
“I started musical outreach with youth while I was studying at Yale,” says Rameau, the winner of this year’s James G Wright Award from the McGill Alumni Association, a prize that honours young McGill graduates who make exemplary contributions to their communities through voluntary service. “I remember this one kid asked me if I really went to Yale. He and his classmates live in a very poor district in close proximity to the university – close, but in their minds, so far away. As black, inner-city kids, the idea of someone who looks like them going to Yale is unfathomable. In our first music class, this kid walks up to me and says, ‘show me your Yale ID,’ and so I did. I had to.
“And this is why I do what I do. When I visit these kids, I think they meet me and they begin to see that anything is within their grasp.” MORE