Singing with huge smiles and an even bigger voice, a group of 35 young students follow musician Paul Hann in the chorus of a song they've created.
"From coast to coast we have it all. The snow-capped mountains and the forests tall. The rolling rivers and the prairies wide, we live together with Canadian pride."
With happiness splashed across their faces as they sing, the grade 4 and 5 Mamquam Elementary students have clearly enjoyed their time spent with the famous composer, singer and performer.
"They get to learn a lot about making a song and they also incorporate many of the topics they're learning about into each song," said Hann.
Hann has been at Mamquam Elementary School all week long as artist in residence, working with students and teaching them an appreciation for a wide variety of music and the art of composing.Working with six different classes, from grade 2 to grade 5/6, Hann leads each group on a specified theme which they must include in the song.
Manners is the main topic for the grade 2 class, while the grade 3 class tackles multiplication in their song.
"Imagine writing a song about that," Hann said with a chuckle.
The grade 4 topic is First Nations, while the entire country of Canada is the theme for the grade 4/5 class. The grade 5s will take on clothing as their song subject and the grade 6 class song features a comedic take on the government of Canada.
"My job is to lead them in the rhythm and rhyming- I just guide them along," said Hann. "I come in with a chorus just to give them some direction."
With each class consisting of 30 to 35 students, Hann has his hands full trying to come up with a different song for each group.
"You have to try and understand their culture. It's an interesting mix between all the grades to see what they want to write about. You have to approach it in a fun way," said Hann. "I want it to be a fun experience for them. At the end of the week, the kids are very proud of the song they've created."
For four days, each class spends time brainstorming ideas for the song, writing lyrics, singing and rehearsing. On day five, the students will have a chance to share their songwriting skills and show-off their musical talents at a special concert for the teachers and parents on Friday (Mar. 5) at 1:45 p.m. Hann also plays a solo concert at the school on the same day at 6:30 p.m.
"I find it extremely rewarding to start with nothing and create a song with these students in a short period of time. It's a lot of work but the kids all learn together and come up with some really creative stuff," said Hann.
"It's nice to be able to spend some time with the students. I enjoy getting to know the students and to see what makes them tick. Some of these kids really ooze music."