Excitement is percolating at Hillcrest Elementary School as students prepare for the arrival of singer-songwriter Lauren Mann next week.
In 2014, Lauren and her band the Fairly Odd Folk, were the winners of the CBC Searchlight contest, rising to the top of over 4500 bands across Canada and named Canada’s best new emerging artist.
Since her start in 2011, Mann has captivated audiences with an impressive live performance at more than 650 shows across Canada and the United States.
Next week, Mann will not only perform with students, she will mentor them.
Her visit is the result of an invitation made by Hillcrest music teacher Brook Roberts, who organized a similar successful artist engagement project with Fernie’s Shred Kelly.
Brooks says the entire school will be involved in one way or another next week, either by playing in a band, singing in a choir or taking part in a school-wide singalong.
“The kids will get exposure to people who do this for a living,” says Roberts. “It’s an experience kids remember for a very long time.”
Some 100 grade 4 and 5 students have been practising Mann’s music since February.
Songs are performed with the same instruments but with different players and about 30 of the 100 students have a solo part.
Everyone else sings in a choir comprised of 80 students.
“We stuffed 80 kids in the music room last Thursday,” says Roberts. “It’s starting to sound like it will sound there (in concert); there are still some kinks to work out, but it’s shaping up.”
Mann will mentor kids and help them with their parts for three days, followed by three runs of the concert on Thursday, June 1 at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“The kids are doing well; we’ve been talking about it for so long and now it’s coming to fruition and nerves are ramping up,” says Roberts. “To them she’s a rock star with videos, plays in a band and tours, so they’re nervous and excited.”
He says the program has been developed as a school-wide program including, a Hillcrest assembly that will include all 300 students, after which Mann and Szoges will visit individual classrooms. On Friday afternoon, Mann will work with Brian Pratt-Johnson in a music composition class.
Roberts is grateful to the funding support from the Hillcrest PAC, Jim Howie, School District #83 music principal, and Carl Cooper director of instruction.
Without it, this would not have been possible.”