| May 08, 2019

It was hard to tell who was having more fun last Wednesday at GREC — the organizers of the music workshops going on, or the students participating in them.

“Teaching is an art form,” said vice-principal Kristin Stevens, the main coordinator of the artistic events. “Art finds its way into everything (and) fun is always our focus.”

This particular event, made possible by Al Rankin, Blue Skies and Live Wire Music, the Parents Council and an Arts grant from the Limestone District School Board, featured about 150 Grade 4-8 students from GREC, Land O’Lakes Public School, Prince Charles Public School and Clarendon Central Public School. The students spent the day rotating through music and instrument-making workshops including flute making, indigenous drumming and song, drum making and acoustic instruments.

“The students are making art,” Stevens said. “They’re learning indigenous drumming and the value of arts endeavours.”

Judy Montgomery and Pam Giroux led the indigenous drumming/singing workshop.

“We’re having loads of fun working with the students,” Montgomery said. “We’re teaching them why we have music — why people sing.

“We give thanks to Mother Earth and our connection to the Earth.

“It encompasses the language and gives a sense of peace and well-being.”

And to get a sense of what’s involved in making music, students got a chance to make their own instruments.

Lily Legacy, who’s been known to create symphonies with nothing more than plastic buckets and enthusiasm, led a drum-making workshop where students made their own “indigenous inspired” hand drums out of tubes used for pouring concrete footings and packing tape.

“They’re super cheap,” Legacy said. “And they’re making drumsticks from dowels and hockey tape.

“It’s a good day.”

Over in the wood shop, students were drilling holes in dowels and creating unique flutes.

“When I’m not teaching, I’m making music or doing carpentry,” said teacher Julia Schall. “These kids are super engaged.”

Finally, students got to spend some time with Teilhard Frost, a fiddler by trade but also a music historian and on this day, he was passing along his knowledge of the not-so-common aspects of acoustic instruments, showing how just about anything can be used to make music.

“I picked some grass in the front yard of the school to show kids how to make notes blowing through it,” he said. “You don’t need anything other than what’s always been around to make music.

“You can be a drumset — without a drumset.”

Frost said he showed the students the relationship between a conch shell and a trumpet.

“You want people to know you’re there,” he said. “And a jug is the basis for hip-hop and beatbox.

He said this is the basis for his acoustic music project — “No Batteries required.”

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