Welcome to the SONG blog! Here you will find posts from various people involved in the organization, especially the co-founders Marie Anderson and Shannon Linton. We are so excited about this project and we want to keep you informed and involved every step of the way. In that spirit, the first blog post contains Marie’s reflections on the introductory sessions we held in May. This is just the beginning, hold on tight and enjoy the journey with us!
We have just finished a fun session with about 170 Grade 4, 5, and 6 kids in Port Hope at Beatrice Strong Public School. Shannon and I taught them Canadian composer Stephen Hatfield’s Foggy Birthday Shuffle. They listened quietly as Shannon sang it all the way through first while I played. Then we be began to teach it by rote, line by line, actions included. There were big smiles and most of the kids sang happily. That’s the right word—they sounded so happy.
After we finished the learning we sang it through twice, fixing a few things. I suggested that everyone get into a big circle (170 kids in a gym makes a big circle). I said, “Now in the middle section where we are riffing, come into the centre of the circle and dance—anyone who wants to show what they can do”. One little guy danced to the centre and did a moonwalk back to his place. A girl came out and did a short break dance. Someone else did a cartwheel across. A girl in a wheelchair wheeled herself into the circle and back out again. We finished the song with lots of laughing and excitement. By this time the class was over and it was time for everyone to get ready for their bus. A boy across the room shouted “Can we do it one more time”? We looked at the clock—time was definitely up. “No, it’s time to leave” we said. “Aw please,” said another young voice. Then a chant began, “one more, one more, one more”… The principal agreed and we sang all through one more time. Many children came up to us after the class asking questions: “when will the program start?”, and “what kind of music will we sing?”. Many children said that they want to be a part of SONG: Sounds of the Next Generation
We began this morning doing a demonstration class at Grant Sine Public School. Teacher Graham Taylor and Principal Kevin Dunn were so welcoming. We worked at Grant Sine School with children from grades one to grade six; at Beatrice Strong with children from kindergarten to grade six. We played rhythm games, sang songs, did some vocal technique, talked about dynamics, and sang a round in three parts. Children sang in pairs, in a circle, in rows, sitting, standing, with actions. Engagement was high, and music was well served that day.
By this September, Northumberland County will have an El Sistema program working in Port Hope at Beatrice Strong Public School, and in Cobourg at Grant Sine Public School. A board has formed, we will soon receive our charitable status, and planning is well under way. The programs will begin with singing, choir, and drumming. Instructors will be Marie Anderson and Shannon Linton. Within a year we plan to begin a string program taught by instructor Deborah Henderson. We have applied for funding for instruments and will continue to apply for instrument funding until we receive it. We are seeking volunteers now for this very worthy project. For further information, contact president of the board Barb Henderson, or Marie Anderson, or Shannon Linton.