When the popular musical act the Arkells visit your music class, of course you play a song with them. That’s exactly what students at Milton District High School (MDHS) did when members of the Juno Award-winning alternative rock band recently visited the school to film a concert band version of one of their latest hits, People’s Champ.
The Canadian band has been visiting MDHS almost every year for the past six years to talk with students about songwriting and the music industry. This year, the band’s lead vocalist Max Kerman and drummer Tim Oxford presented MDHS music teacher Christopher Carson-Foster with a People’s Champ Award for his commitment to engaging students with music education. The People’s Champ Award is given to individuals who go above and beyond to make a difference in their community.
“Tim and I are both products of the public school music system,” says Kerman. “We believe in a good music program and we know the one here is legendary.”
Under the conduction of Carson-Foster and alongside the Arkells, students in the school’s music program performed People’s Champ.
It was not the first time students performed the song, as Carson-Foster and the school’s Senior Concert Band previously filmed their rehearsal of Carson-Foster’s arrangement of People’s Champ and sent it to the Arkells, who shared the clip on social media.
“At MDHS, we try to equip students with musical skills and experiences that they will take away from high school and continue with for the rest of their lives,” says Carson-Foster. “We teach recording, songwriting, song arranging and we have no boundaries on what instruments students can play at school.”
On how the school’s music program inspires students to explore a passion for music, Carson-Foster says, “we believe that when students have autonomy over what music they play and learn from at school, they engage and take ownership of their musical learning experiences.”
Meeting and playing with musicians like the Arkells increases students’ level of professionalism and reminds them to keep working toward their goals, says Carson-Foster. Students are elated to spend time with the Arkells to sieze the opportunity to learn their music and songwriting tips, and hear stories of their experiences working in the music industry.