Tuesday, 06 October 2015 18:38

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 Tour Stories
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
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 03:53

Student Filmmaking Projects

I teach a variety of workshops in schools. For a recent multi media video project, I asked two classes with 25 kids in each, to tell the story of their school through visual storytelling.

They brainstormed and came up with different elements that make up the life of their school. The mascot, band, breakfast program, recycling, etc.

VIDEO ONE

They spent two days creating storyboards and shot lists for a lip dub video. Then they matched their individual skill sets, gifts and interests with the skills required to complete the project. They decided who would be actors, directors, camera operators, etc.

VIDEO TWO

We had one 45 minute class each day over the week to produce these video. On the Friday afternoon at the end of the week, the school organized an assembly for all the students, and we had an official screening of the films the students made. This allowed the other students to see themselves on the screen, and for the whole school to celebrate their creativity.

Movie Trailers

I spent the following week in a middle school working with 4 different classes ranging from grade 7-9. I divided each class of 30 students into 5 separate film crews. Each group had to decide what type of film trailer they wanted to make. (horror, comedy, adventure, etc)

After deciding on the type of story, they worked out a storyboard and shot list. Then it was their turn to match their individual skill set with the skills needed to complete the project. One person may like to be in front of the camera, but the next person would hate it. But that person might like to operate the camera. Together they figured out who would write the script, who would direct and edit.

We didn't have a lot of time. We spent the first two 45 minute classes (Mon & Tue) in pre production, getting the story, the script and shot list, and the following two days, (Wed & Thur) filming and editing. On Thursday night, we had a free community concert that featured the 8 trailers and a collection of slam poets I had also worked with through the week.

Abandoned - Trailer

These projects develop media literacy and the fundamentals of storytelling and composition. They require students to identify their unique talents and abilities and then match those to the project. They learn to recognize how their strengths and weaknesses provide opportunities to work with others who are skilled differently.

One of the main strengths of this project is that we create an environment where every student can play to their strengths so that the entire group can have a 'win'. It's great for team building and setting a tone for creative exploration and development. I offer this workshop to teachers and adults in other professional settings as well.

 

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 250 896 2572 to book a residency in your school or community.

Published in Tour Stories
Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:47

UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESC0) is one of 18 specialized agencies within the United Nations System. It was established on November 16, 1945, as much of the world was emerging from the devastation of the Second World War.

UNESCO was formed to embody a culture of peace by promoting collaboration among nations through education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information. With an incredible 68 year history, it's sometimes surprising how many people have never heard of the organization and don't really know what they do.

As a national artist collective who fuse the rich heritage of indigenous cultures through modern forms of artistic expression to educate, empower audiences while they are entertained, Tribe of One is perfectly suited to appreciate the value of UNESCOs goals and objectives. It is those shared values that makes our partnership so dynamic.

"Humanity's most valuable assets have been the non-conformists. Were it not for the nonconformists, he who refuses to be satisfied to go along with the continuance of things as they are, and insists upon attempting to find new ways of bettering things, the world would have known little progress indeed." Josiah Gitt.

In today's globalized new world culture, recognizing the value of our diversity and differences, and finding creative and innovative ways to build our future together has never been more important. This was Tribe of One's initial point of connection with UNESCO and one we are very proud to celebrate in this video.

 

By Rik Leaf - Recording Artist, TV Host/Producer, Slam Poet & Published Author, Rik is the founder of Tribe of One, a national artist collective that fuses the rich heritage of indigenous cultures with modern forms of artistic expression. Featuring First Nations, Metis, French, English and Brazilian musicians, dancers, painters and poets.

Published in Tour Stories
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 22:25

Idle No More - The Power of Story

 

Idle No More is the movement of the moment. For some it’s a movement they’ve waited their whole lives to see, and for others it’s something that has come out of the blue without warning. For my part I’m excited, because this is an amazing opportunity for the Power of Story to change how we see ourselves and the world around us.

The Story of Canada is the narrative used to explain how we got to where we are today. It’s a powerful Story that’s been used for hundreds of years to explain away the excuses and abuses of power and position. A story full of misdirection, half-truths and outright lies…and it’s starting to unravel. That’s one of the reasons I’m excited…the unraveling of the Story of Canada is an exciting opportunity for storytellers to be Idle No More.

While preachers feverishly preach their version of the truth to the converted and politicians dutifully tow the official party line and corporations desperately cling to outdated business-as-usual solutions, storytellers are free. Free to use the full measure of creativity to tell a new Story…one that can slip in between the cracks of a crumbling façade and let the light fill hearts and minds.

Cause we didn’t just get to where we are by accident. The rampant racism, bigotry, inequality and abuses of power are all part of the Story we were told. The Story that taught settlers how to see indigenous communities and visa versa, the Story told to children, reinforced by parents who repeated what they’d been taught in schools, universities and boardrooms. So while preachers, teachers, politicians and big business certainly have a responsibility and a part to play, Idle No More needs great storytellers to use their creative talents and abilities to engage, empower and educate this country. Storytellers work with the palette of possibilities and have the ability to empower individuals to imagine ways they can be active participants in making the world a better place.

Idle No More is an opportunity to write a new Story, a better one, more generous, honest and true…one that will change the world.

Rik Leaf is the Creative Director for Tribe of One, a performance collective featuring English, French, First Nations and Metis musicians, dancers, painters and poets who fuse the rich heritage of indigenous culture with modern forms of artistic expression.

Published in Tour Stories
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 16:34

Discover 'Hope' Indigenous New World Music

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Discover 'Hope' and the sound of indigenous new world music!

Published in Homepage
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 22:46

Rik Leaf's New CD!

 

 

 

In 2011 Rik won the Spirit of Canada Songwriting competition. First place came with recording time at OakStone Studios in Victoria, B.C.

Inspired by Michael Franti's, Stay Human, album, Rik enlisted the poetic styling of Janet Rogers, Victoria's, Mohawk poet laureate and recorded Beyond the Glass Ceiling, his first disc featuring spoken word poetry. The two incredibly poetic and politically-minded artists vamped and riffed between songs – like Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK channeling the spirit of Shakespeare.

What emerged was something unlike anything Rik's released before...six new socially-minded songs steeped in New World indigenous instrumentation interspersed between six spoken word poetry vignettes. The new album captures our unique time in history, as our collective hope and faith in institutions are stretched beyond the breaking point and individuals turn to one another for strength and comfort.

Beyond the Glass Ceiling is absolutely worth a listen! Incorporating spoken word poetry provides an exciting bridge between Rik's past releases and the live performances his audiences have come to love.

For a limited time you can download Beyond the Glass Ceiling for free or by donation.

Published in Tour Stories
Monday, 13 June 2011 17:36

Tribe of One Bio

Tribe of One features First Nations, Metis, French & English musicians, dancers, painters and slam poets together in one technically innovative, highly adaptable, cross-cultural show that features an amazing blend of Sound, Physical Movement & Dance, Performance Painting, Slam Poetry.

Sound - A fusion of indigenous instruments from cultures around the world creates a thunderous Tribal Sound that blends World-Roots-Funk-Blues


Physical Movement and Dance – Dancers from indigenous cultures combine traditional and modern dance styles, regalia and costumes to transform the stage through colour and movement.


Performance Painting – Audiences are captivated as images and colours emerge from an empty canvas infused with the swirl of music, movement and creative energy on and off the stage.


Storytelling – rich lyrics, slam poetry, instrumental soundscapes and spontaneous stories to transport audiences to a world of imagination and wonder.

Tribe of One’s incredibly positive, groove-heavy, exciting and danceable live performances make them festival favorites. From Festival du Voyageur and the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, to art galleries and cultural celebrations, Tribe of One engage audiences through every sense simultaneously.

Published in Press Media

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