It was a musical experience Hillcrest students may remember the rest of their lives.
Several Hillcrest Elementary students were in the audience for the Sloan concert at Song Sparrow Hall on Sunday night, March 5. The students, and music teacher Brook Roberts, had their own connection to the band, having performed the Canadian alt-rockers hit The Rest of My Life in the recent Canadian Music Class Challenge.
The school’s video entry, riffing off Sloan’s own video for the song, climbed to the top 10 in the Elementary Vocal (Grades 4-6) category.
Though they didn’t reach the top spot in the CBC radio competition, Hillcrest received recognition nationwide, including the attention of Sloan and the band’s bassist/vocalist Chris Murphy.
During the concert, Murphy invited the attending Hillcrest students and Roberts on stage to once again perform The Rest of My Life.
“He called all the kids…anyone who is from Hillcrest that wants to come up on stage and do your stuff, come on up,” said Roberts, noting this was a surprise for the Hillcrest contingent. “
And then he called for the ringleader, ‘Where’s the ringleader?’ So I went up there and that was all cool.”
Roberts said a person in the audience then yelled, “Get Mr. Roberts a guitar!” The band then set him up with a guitar and, after confirming with guitarist Jay Ferguson the key they’d be playing in, the band and students got rocking.
“We rocked it out and it was amazing,” said Roberts. “It was a super fun time and I was so pumped to be playing the song.”
At the intermission, Roberts said the band spent time chatting with the kids.
Hillcrest’s Sloan experience wasn’t over yet.
The following day, Roberts brought Murphy to the school, where he spent the afternoon.
“They watched the video together, then did the song together with him, taught him the dance moves and he did it with us,” said Roberts, who arranged the visit in advance.
“He and I did an interview – the kids came up with the questions… and then Chris and I played The Good In Everyone. We just jammed out a duo version and that was it.
“The thing about coming to the school – there’s no contract to do that, no one is getting paid.”
Asked what the students picked up from his visit, Murphy said he wasn’t sure, but he encouraged them to learn music for fun.
He was “certainly moved to hear them singing a song that I wrote that was popular, in the scheme of things, before they were born.”
Murphy said it was legitimizing that The Rest of My Life was included in the list of songs schools could choose from in the Music Class Challenge.
“It makes me feel like the song lives on even in a small way.”
For Roberts, Murphy’s visit was a Music Class Challenge win for Hillcrest.
“We have to do what we do well and, in Salmon Arm, we do certain things well,” said Roberts.
“We have a folk music society that does shows well and does a festival well, we’ve got kids at Hillcrest where we might be a little rough on the edges musically but we have the ability to work well as a team…
“At the end of the day, we’re the people that are hanging out with Chris Murphy and what an experience. It’s all worked out.”
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