Every two years, the Olympics gives music teachers a wonderful opportunity to combine music with sports. Often, I will use a sports analogy when teaching music. In both sports and music, the player must warm up, exercise and practice. And, during Olympic years, I will spend time teaching traditional music from the host country. This year, the Vancouver Olympics gives me the special opportunity of sharing songs from my home country and my songbook “Sing a Song of Canada.”
The opening ceremonies are a perfect example of how music is extremely important at a sporting event. The music allows the home country to display their culture. The songs raise excitement and anticipation for the games. The Vancouver show contained many references to Canadian culture that are included in “Sing a Song of Canada”: the importance of the First Nations drum, Emily Carr paintings, a quote from Pauline Johnson, the diversity of the landscape and people of Canada, to name a few.
For my lesson plans in January and February, students have been learning both traditional Canadian folk songs and songs from “Sing a Song of Canada”. For the younger elementary students, we have been focussing on the Olympic mascots and the First Nations Legends on which they are based. We learned “Sasquatch” by Charlotte Diamond, an original song called “The Thunderbird” and the traditional Canadian folk song, “Land of the Silver Birch.” The older students have learned several songs from my songbook with recorder accompaniments. These include the title song from the book as well as “Train Dogs”, “Winter Is” and “Can Can Canada.”
Enjoy the rest of the Olympics and keep singing those Canadian songs!!!