Thursday, 03 December 2015 17:55

ONYAT'A:KA Oneida Pride!

 

Oneida Pride

 

Oneida Pride – Students Celebrate Their Creativity & Culture

I just had an incredible week full of Oneida Pride as I worked with students at Standing Stone School at Oneida Nation of the Thames. Four classes were interested in songwriting, one wanted to do filmmaking and another did slam poetry. On Friday afternoon I commandeered the school PA system and started playing this song we’d written together over the intercom. The students all poured out of their classrooms and we had this impromptu rock show moment in the hallway!

When I walked into the Grade 2 classroom I asked what type of song they’d like to write. “A Christmas song!” one little girl exclaimed. I asked what we should call it. “Christmas Town” another chimed in. By the time I could grab a marker and make my way to the white board the kids were off and running, calling out lyrics as I scrambled to write them down.

I grabbed my guitar and started to find a melody that would work with the lyrics, as well as be in a good key for them to be able to sing. In four days we wrote the music, lyrics and melody together and recorded it. And honestly…it’s an amazing song!

CHRISTMAS TOWN

At the beginning of the week, I had an opportunity to get together with L:ao Antone, the Oneida language teacher, who graciously helped me work out some Oneida words that could be incorporated into the song I was writing with the kids. Creative and cultural literacy projects are an incredible opportunity to work together collaboratively to create something bigger than anyone person who is involved. This video is where we started on Monday…by Friday we were chanting at the top of our lungs in the hallway like we were at a rock concert!

SONGWRITING IN ONEIDA

If you’re interested in booking creative or cultural literacy projects for your school contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 250-896-2572

Published in Tour Stories
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 18:34

Change The World

Change Your Words You Can Change The World

An Artist Residency is one of my favourite things in the world. It gives me the opportunity to spend quality time in a school investing in the lives of the students and staff. This week I got to work with 360 students to produce a multi media production called, Change The World/Change le Monde.

Words like ‘madhouse’ ‘bedlam’ and ‘creative chaos’ were used on several occasions and some of the more ‘senior staff’ were captured on video covering their ears in a desperate attempt to muffle the deafening cheers. (Though smiles tugged suspiciously at the corners of their mouths at the same time)

The Plan…produce a digital media project that celebrated the community life of the school, highlighting themes like social responsibility and leadership and really set the tone for the school year. When I arrived Monday morning, I was given a schedule that looked like a piece of homework that maybe the dog actually should have eaten. Teacher’s names were scribbled and scrawled…some were crossed out and redirected with curved double-ended arrows indicating a reshuffling of exotic ingredients in some madcap creative recipe. I kid…it showed me immediately that the staff were engaged and accommodating to making this plan work for everyone. Cooperation is key to success!

Day One…I spent the first day dashing from room to room, interviewing all the students. What words did they use to describe their school, their class, teacher and friends? I asked them for personal stories of how someone had made their life better, and how they had made someone else’s life better and wrote it all down.

I compiled word banks and created a cache of stories from these interviews. A big colourful sign in the hallway that said, ‘Change Your Words, Change Your Mindset’ really caught my eye. (and imagination) At the end of Day One I sat down and channeled all the inspiration to write a song called, Change the World.

Day Two…bright and early I was once again scampering through the hallways, drifting in and out of classrooms like a wandering minstrel, teaching the new song to each class. In between rehearsals we worked out visual components of our project. Central is a French Immersion school, so language is a big part of their identity. ARTS posters are pinned on every wall spelling out the school’s community values. Acceptance/Accepter, Respect/Respecter, Together/Tous, Security/Sécurité.

Plans emerged for each classroom make giant, colourful posters that spelled out these words. It was a tactile way for the kids to engage with the words that express the values that create a safe, encouraging environment that foster their hopes and dreams.

 

We covered a huge area in one hallway with paper, creating a ‘School Wall’ where students could write personal iMessages like, ‘I feel safe here’ ‘I respect my friends.’ In the brilliant words of one little dude, ‘this is the most awesomeist graffiti ever!’

I explored the wild side of the playground with my camera, capturing the kid’s energy and enthusiasm in their natural habitat. When you’re in elementary school, the playground is where the real work of respect, acceptance and togetherness is done.

I also found time to marvel that at some point in my life I too had been able to swing on monkey bars without pulling my limbs from their sockets.                        (those days are long past)

Day Three…flew by in a blur of filming, drawing, colouring and rehearsing as I raced from the highest room in the tallest tower to the deep dark recesses of Central’s WWII era basement. I’m not going to lie, 360 kids keep you hopping. One of things I love about being a facilitator is the energy builds exponentially because everyone is able to be involved in a way that plays to their strengths. I’m not the horse or the wagon…I’m just the wild guy with the guitar having the time of his life playing a melody that lets us sing together at ear-bleeding levels.

Day Four…the momentum continued to build through the day, coming to a deafening ‘world changing’ crescendo at the assembly in the gym, where the mood was electric and the kids sang so loud it felt like an AC/DC concert.

I set up my portable recording gear, set a stationary camera at the back of the room and gave my handheld to a volunteer and we proceeded to record and film the song three different times. Watching the footage close to a gazillion times as I edited the video, I was blown away by the power of community and creativity to change our lives and the world around us.

I love being part of a great story and happily offer my 18 years of experience as a professional writer, performer and producer in the music, TV and film industry to each school to help students discover their talents, gifts and abilities so they can tell their story in ways they haven’t before. If this is something that would interest your school or community, you are 100% free (and encouraged) to contact me anytime!  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

It is a privilege to be able to invest in the lives of others.
Merci Beaucoup…Change le Monde!

Published in Homepage
Monday, 15 December 2014 19:29

Record Your Version of This Song!

Dark is the Night, came out of recent conversations with young songwriters, slam poets and filmmakers in remote communities across the country. Their personal stories of pain, hope and struggle mixed with the stories coming out of Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island.

The theme of my workshops is always about finding your voice so you can share your story with others, and recognizing how having different talents and abilities provides opportunities for us to work creatively with others. So we talk about how it’s in dark times of terror and tragedy that many of us discover our ability, maybe even our responsibility, to stand up for our friends, families and communities. To light the fires for those who have lost their way, and help them make it back home. To let them know that they don’t struggle alone and they haven’t been forgotten.

Here's my invitation to you. If your school, community or church has a choir, I’d like to invite you to arrange and perform your own version of this song. If you’re a solo artist, a singer/songwriter or in a band or maybe just have a great group of friends who’d like to come up with your own version…please do! And then send it to me, so I can post it and share it with the students and communities I work with, to further inspire and encourage them.

Each of us has been given a voice…you can call it a gift, a talent or an ability. When we take what we’ve been given and offer it to those around us, we can change the world.

It’s a very simple song to play and to sing. On guitar use regular tuning.

(ooh part 2x) Am / C / G / Am

Am             C       G                        Am

Dark is the night when the stars are hidden

Am             C         G                       Am

Charting a course with no point of direction

F                   C               G                       Am

I’ll light the fires on the shore to guide you home

F                   C                         G

I’ll sing our songs through the night…hear my voice

(ooh part 2x) Am / C / G / Am

 

Dark is the life, when the stars are hidden

Charting a course, with no point of connection

I’ll light the fires on the shore to guide you home

I’ll sing our songs through the night…hear my voice

For Instrumental Break – strum Am chord and then all open strings

Published in Tour Stories
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 04:55

Tribe of One - Live Performance Reviews

“As a public art gallery, we were intrigued by Tribe of One’s concept of bringing together music, dance, poetry and visual arts.  We hoped the performance would complement our programming with creativity and ingenuity.  The event far exceeded our expectations and hopes.  The energy, passion, talent and commitment from all the performers in the group were remarkable.  Each individual displayed such intense enthusiasm and knowledge for their specific contribution, that when together the effect was explosive.  How four individuals could manage to keep our eyes, ears and minds moving so intensely for such an extended period of time is unfathomable to me. The gallery was thrilled to be the host of such an exciting event and to be responsible for bringing such an exceptional and inspiring group to the community.  It augmented our focus on celebrating the multiculturalism of Canada beautifully.  The feedback we have received has been uniformly glowing and we have already had requests from those in attendance and from those who missed the performance to bring the group back!”                                                      Maura Broadhurst, Curator, Latcham Gallery

“After seeing videos of Tribe of One on YouTube, I was already sold... but I had no idea that these videos would pale in comparison to the live performance. I was actually moved to tears during your set, stricken with emotion at the beauty of not only of the music and the visuals, but of the message they so effortlessly convey. I have never seen a group that could, at once, be both joyous and driving, yet dark and haunting. The amount of sound coming off the stage was incredible, and the dancers complimented that sound perfectly. I heard nothing but rave reviews from the crowd. The most memorable performance of my weekend.” Ken Jaworski, Artistic Director, Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival

“Through your involvement with Aboriginal Music Program, you have joined with an elite group of rising stars representing the best and brightest Aboriginal recording artists from across the country. It is my pleasure to extend my support, encouragement and sincere best wishes to Tribe of One towards its upcoming CD release and performances across Canada. Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport

"‘What a unique show! Tribe of One will captivate you with music, dance and visual art which represent the love and pride these artists share for their country.      Lynn Munilla, Artistic Director, Festival du Voyageur

Published in Performance Reviews

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