Nakoda students challenge for music contest top prize

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A last minute music video submission by students at Nakoda Elementary School (NES) has advanced to the finals in a Canada-wide contest.

Grade 5 students were “overwhelmed and overjoyed” last Friday (Dec. 8) after discovering their submission to CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge was named a top 10 finalist in Elementary Vocal, which had 142 submissions.

The annual contest kicks off each September and closes at the end of November.

However, NES didn’t start on its music video until the end of October, said music teacher Drew Van Allen.

“We were unaware of the contest,” he said. “This is our first kick at the can at it. We knew (the music video) was good and (the students are) really proud of it … The fact that other people recognized it, it’s something special.”

The CBC Music Class contest is in partnership with MusiCounts, and is designed to “engage music classes across the country with Canadian music.”

Classes choose one song to perform and film from a pre-approved list and this year’s winners of each category receive a classroom recording kit valued at $5,000.

Winners are announced on Friday (Dec. 15).

“It’s not about receiving a tangible award, even getting in the top 10 out 142 (submissions) – that itself is a massive award, anything past this is gravy,” said Van Allen.

“That’s not really the point of it anymore, the point is getting these kids an opportunity and showing what effort and hard work can achieve.”

The creative elementary students performed “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes, and added a bit of their own Stoney Nakoda style into it.

In the video, students greet viewers in the Stoney Nakoda language, which is followed by the beginning on the song and five students performing traditional dancing in cultural outfits. The students then sing and play xylophones and the keys.

Music and dance in Stoney Nakoda culture play a major role, and Van Allen said the school is blessed to have an administration that puts value into it as well.

“The entire song was produced by the kids, they learned the words, learned instruments, and figured out how to compose the song and how to structure it,” said Van Allen.

“Music offers a great opportunity to develop self expression. By putting our own ‘spin’ on things, we often discover something new about ourselves. It’s awesome to be recognized for a project that showcases the students’ interpretation of their culture.

“Our kids will definitely be inspired by this achievement because it’s proudly their own.”

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Rocky Mountain Outlook