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  • Students Hit All the Right Notes for National Recognition

    Each year, CBC Music challenges music educators across Canada to teach their students a Canadian song from a designated list. Teachers then create a video and send it in to the Canadian Music Class Challenge for a chance to gain national recognition and win great prizes! 

    When J.H. Bruns Collegiate (JHB) teacher Randy Haley uploaded a video of his Senior Guitar class to the CBC Music's Canadian Music Class Challenge, he wasn't expecting a win.  

    "The main goal was just to share our performance," said Mr. Haley.  

    The group decided on Nikamo, a Cree Lullaby by Jason Burnstick. One challenge for the singers was learning the lyrics.  

    "I listened to the recording so many times and did my best to copy the vocalist," said Maija, a Grade 11 student. "Another challenge was Max, the other singer, and I kept missing each other and didn't get as much practice." 

    Students were given sheet music and tabs for the guitar parts before deciding to add a bass and mandolin player. 

    "I had never touched a mandolin before," said Jack, a Grade 12 student. "Adding it in was a last-minute decision. I took it home over the weekend to practice and accidentally snapped one of the strings." 

     Students needed to know the timing of their part for it to fit together.  

    "A challenge for me was the harmonics," said Marysa, a Grade 11 student. "They need to be done a certain way so that it sounds right."  

    Once the students were familiar with the tune, the fun began. A Grade 10 student brought along audio and video equipment to record the session.  

    After five or six audio takes, and a retake of the video, it was ready to be posted. The Senior Guitar students then watched other submissions from across Canada, some of which were professionally recorded. As there were vocalists in the JHB submission, it was placed in the Senior Vocal category against large choirs.   

    "No one was expecting we would make it into the top ten, never mind coming in first," said Veronica, a Grade 12 student. "It was kind of a shock." 

    Once they found out the fantastic news, Mr. Haley brought in a cake to celebrate.  

    "We wouldn't have been able to win without Mr. Haley," Maija said. "He doesn't give himself enough credit for how good of a teacher he is."  

    "He's in the right place," said Jack. "The atmosphere is really great in his classroom, and he's always thinking of song ideas his students would like to learn." 

    Click here to see the full performance.