Whitehorse may be a far reach from the glitz and glamour of American Idol, but our little northern city does pack some special musical talent, courtesy of the students at the Holy Family Elementary School. Just this past January, the students dropped a CD, entitled Songs in the Key of Learning. There is a track written and performed by each grade – Kindergarten to Grade 7. The CD was professionally recorded at Green Needle Records in Whitehorse, with local musicians lending a hand.
Ideas for this CD project first began in 2016, and was inspired by Yukon musician Steve Slade. At the time, Slade was involved with the North Klondike Music Society, doing songwriting workshops in the school with the kids. Gerald Woolridge, the music teacher at Holy Family, and Slade discussed the idea of recording a CD with the kids.
In the fall of 2016, the project was underway with both Slade and Woolridge lending their musical expertise and assistance. Each grade contributed to the CD and wrote, performed and produced a song. Song topics include school spirit, graduation, surviving in the wilderness and a couple of Catholic themes.
Woolridge is proud of the students and their first CD, and gives a special shout-out to Caroline Knickle who worked closely with the kindergarten students to help grow their musical talents.
“The entire experience was very rewarding, a bit time consuming with planning and getting all the moving parts to work in the same direction, but I’m very proud of how it turned out,” Woolridge said. There was a challenge along the way: music production requires some serious coin to create a polished product.
“Fundraising for Songs in the Key of Learning was a bit of a challenge. But we also managed to secure some grants,” Woolridge said. The main objective was to give the students an opportunity to see what it’s like to produce music.
“A lot of the kids were in awe by the entire process and did not realize how much work was involved with songwriting and music producing,” Woolridge said. When the students were not focused on recording, they had fun with the experience at the recording studio, enjoying the drum kit room and guitar wall.
But when playtime is over, musicians must get back to work. Music is not all fun and games. There is a lot of precision and attention to detail involved in order to craft the best sound possible.
“We also wanted the students to learn more about educational values through this project. To understand the importance of working together as a team, and to be proud of their accomplishments,” Woolridge said.
Copies of the CD Songs in the Key of Learning can be purchased at Holy Family Elementary School for $10.