Students Join Canada-wide Music Challenge

Students Join Canada-wide Music Challenge
Posted on 01/10/2022
Students Join Canada-wide Music ChallengeThis fall, students at Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Broadview Public School and Bayshore Public School joined the Canada-wide CBC Music Class Challenge, sharing their interpretations of the Anishinaabe/Ojibwe song "Ode'min Giizis (Strawberry Moon).” The young musicians learned about Indigenous traditions and language while making music together in a safe, innovative way.

Students learned the meaning behind the song by watching a video tutorial from the songwriter, Tara Williamson. Written in Anishinaabemowin and English, the song explores the themes of friendship, kindness, and gathering with loved ones to celebrate the Ode'min Giizis moon, which marks the arrival of strawberries. 

The finalists were announced in December 2021, and Lisgar Collegiate Institute’s rendition was a Top 10 Finalist in the Indigenous Languages category. Their performance features the Flute Ensemble, led by teacher Ms. Sommers; vocal harmonies by Clara C. and Kimberly L.; and Indigenous drumming by Parker T. and Dale T. The students created the musical arrangement and recorded separate tracks at home, which were combined into a music video with artwork from Lisgar’s Art Club. “This was integrated arts at its best,” says Art Club lead Ms. Grant-Perras. “The music provided an inspiring resource for the artwork and the artwork provided a rich background for the music.”

Indigenous students Parker and Dale led a Google Meet for participants, where they shared about the importance of music and strawberry festivals to Indigenous communities. Ms Sommers commissioned Parker and Dale to make the beaded strawberry pins that were worn by the musicians. The ensemble also collaborated on the land acknowledgement that opens the video, with support from the OCDSB Indigenous Education team. “We wanted the acknowledgement to emphasize the importance of learning Indigenous language, as well as the importance of supporting Indigenous musicians and artists in our communities,” says Ms. Sommers.

At Broadview Public School, music teacher M. Coutu guided a group of grade 7 and 8 students in recording their interpretation of the song. They recorded vocal tracks and instrumentals in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, then worked together to weave the recordings into a beautiful group performance.

“Working on this recording during the pandemic has certainly put the ‘challenge’ in CBC Music Class Challenge, but a highly rewarding experience for all of us involved,” says M. Coutu. “The joy and hope reflected in the students’ voices has rippled throughout our school community – who are responding to the recording with overwhelming support and positivity – and underscores for us the power and importance of music education.”

At Bayshore Public School, the grade 4/5 class approached the challenge in their own unique ways – some wrote out the lyrics, some sang along with the tutorial, and some chose to work on the lyrics word-by-word with their teacher, Mme Susak. They practiced the song three times per week and organized an outing to get footage for their music video. At the end of the video, they shared their reflections on the experience. "Our small group of mighty voices valued the significance of honoring and learning Ojibwe lyrics to share their language and culture with their classmates," says Mme Susak.

CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge is an annual contest in association with MusiCounts, the charity of the Juno Awards, to engage music classes across the country with Canadian music. Learn more and see all the performances on the CBC website.
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