Academy in tune with community

Christopher Gooding
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School celebrates community talent during Music Monday

No astronauts were necessary to turn a Monday afternoon into a concert as faculty at Spring Street Academy teamed up with local musician Rocky Ripley and young guitar players attending the school. 

AMHERST – No, Houston, we don’t have a problem.

Students at the Spring Street Academy felt out of this world as they turned an ordinary Monday into a music memory and, while the intention was to connect them with the International Space Station, technical difficulties didn’t prevent them from connecting with their community.

Students across the nation participated in Music Monday – a national initiative to promote music in schools. Some schools did make contact with a small, manmade vessel orbiting Earth with a special Canadian on board, while others embraced the event on their own merits.

“The kids are so technology savvy today, so it’s not as awesome to make contact with the space station as it is for older people,” Spring Street Academy music faculty Ruth Nichols said.

International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield did connect with hundreds of thousands of students across Canada in his last live-link to Earth to raise awareness about the importance of music in education and the message was not lost on the students and staff here in Amherst.  

“We’re pretty lucky in our school,” Nichols said. “In the last 25 years I’ve been in education, I’ve never felt concerned music would be cut… music exercises the brain for other things, like learning other languages and I think doing things like this helps keep music alive in education.”

Joining Nichols to fill the gap the failed-link to the space station created were a cast of community educators with gift for music, including Aaron Stubbert, Jim Aylward, Kirk Rioux, Paul Bennette, Darren White and special guest Rocky Ripley, who recently released a children’s album under the moniker Uncle Roc.

Together they performed this year’s Music Monday official song, Is Somebody Singing, co-written by Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies front man Ed Robertson, which saw the entire school singing along and a group of guitar-savvy students joining the school’s ‘house band’ at the front of the stage.

“Music isn’t just your music teacher or your guitar teacher or at your church. It’s real people with real jobs who are part of the community,” Nichols said.

Music Monday, an effort of the Coalition of Music Education created in 2005, is an annual event celebrated the first Monday of May to raise awareness if the role music has in Canadian culture.

Hadfield, the first Canadian to become commander of the International Space Station, docked Dec. 21, 2012, and since then has peaked the world’s interest once again about the space program by connecting with people via social media feeds like Twitter, answering questions and producing videos answering student-questions about the weightless world on the space station, like what happens when you wring out a face cloth when there is no gravity. During his spare time on the space station he has been recording a music album. 

Hadfield is due to return to the planet next Monday. 

 

cgooding@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: ADNchris

Organizations: Street Academy, International Space Station, Barenaked Ladies Coalition of Music Education

Geographic location: AMHERST, Houston, Canada

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